How to Set Up and Use Reinforcement at Home (Even If You Aren’t a Behavior Expert!)

How to Set Up and Use Reinforcement at Home (Even If You Aren’t a Behavior Expert!)

When it comes to setting up and using behavior reinforcement at home, there are only three simple steps you need to know!

Step 1: Determine what behavior you are going to reinforce. (Hint – pick only one!)

You may be dealing with multiple behaviors from your child or just one. Either way, when setting up a reinforcement system, it’s really important that you only work on one behavior at a time. I would recommend working on the behavior that is creating the most interference (translated – the one that’s driving you most crazy).

If you work on more than one behavior at a time, a reinforcement system becomes very difficult to manage AND creates confusion for your child. The more specific you can be, the more bang for your buck you’ll receive in return.

Sure, you might be thinking that there are SO MANY behaviors to deal with, but don’t fret. You can add more behaviors once you manage that first one!

Step 2: Clearly decide/define what has to be done to earn the reinforcement. 

To make reinforcement really powerful (and easy) you’ll want to be very specific in what you are looking for. So, for example: if you want your child to do what you tell them the first time you ask, then you’ll want to be really specific about what that looks like to you. 

  • How long do they have to do what you said? (30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes?)
  • Do you care if they are talking while they do it? What if they talk back but still do what you say?
  • Do they have to do it exactly as you said, or is there wiggle room with that?

If you don’t make things clear, you open the door to argument and debate and it ends up being frustrating for you and for your child! 

Think it through – what is important to you and what do you really want them to do? 

Step 3: Decide what they will earn.

It’s really important that you both know what your child is “working” towards. Remember – whatever it is needs to be reinforcing to your child AND something you can reasonably offer. If they ask for $100 every time they complete a chore, that may be a little out of your league.  

I recommend using this as an activity you can complete together. Have them come up with a list of EVERYTHING they would want to earn and then sit down together and decide with works for both of you! Check out this reinforcement survey to help you both think of things they may want to work for. 

Making Behavior Reinforcement at Home an Easy Task

Reinforcement can be your best friend if used correctly as part of a plan to help work on your child’s behavior. The great thing is there is no one right answer or one right path. Reinforcement works when it works for both of you! 

You’ve got this!!!

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