Reinforcement and punishment essay
The evaluation of the reinforcement and punishment as educational methods.
How do boys try to use their physical strength in order to achieve self-affirmation?
What is the most effective reinforcement method?
Is physical punishment effective in the long run?
The situation of fighting with other children is a common reaction for boys. The reason of such a behavior lies in an attempt to achieve self-affirmation among other children by means of physical strength.
Reinforcement and punishment essay
Introduction: The situation of fighting with other children is a common reaction for boys. The reason of such a behavior lies in an attempt to achieve self-affirmation among other children by means of physical strength. It comes from the inability of the boy to verbalize his thoughts properly and express the opinion he wants to prove. A fight in this case is a manifestation of self-expression, and what is more important – an attempt to stand out. Another thing is “contact through a fight”. While David fights other boys he is interacting with them and this becomes a sort of communication for him. Therefore this is the inability to establish a “healthy” contact with other children and therefore a lack of communicational skills.
So, the first step will be the identification of the desired behavior. In David’s case it is – preventing the fight through healthy communication with other children. Our goal is to make this incompatible behavior, in other words a new, positive behavior, to occur over and over again. To make sure this will happen there two ways that may be used: both reinforcement of incompatible behavior and punishment. As David’s behavior is inappropriate, is unwanted and the goal is to get rid of it we certainly chose a negative reinforcer.The main difference of reinforcement from punishment is that a reinforcer is just a “threat of punishment”. Reinforcement will lead the boy to escape of something unpleasant following his behavior. We suggest using the situation when after each fight the child has a conversation with an “admirable” person where this person expresses his emotions towards what the boy has done. The grown-up tells David that he is ashamed of this behavior of his. It is very important to point out that David is a good boy in general, but what he does is very bad. In addition after each fight David will have to seat alone and to write 50 variants of how he could prevent the fight and act it out. Therefore David will develop the sense of responsibility for his own actions, will get acquainted with different “scenarios” of the behavior in order not to provoke a fight. Nevertheless it will take more time then punishment, because punishment may give immediate changes but it will be less profound for the boy.
Conclusion: Dealing with punishing such a behavior it is necessary to go for negative punishers. Negative punishers remove something pleasant from the boy after his aggressive behavior. David obviously is dependent on social interactions, so therefore the best punishment would be a complete elimination of any communication (“grounding”) until the boy comes up and explains why he behaved this way and what he had to do in order to avoid it. The main thing is to make the boy understand that fighting is not a solution in any conflicting situation and that he is able to any of other variants in order to cope with the conflict without fighting. The most important thing is not let the boy feel that he is bad, but to emphasize that what he do is bad.
1. Miller, L. K. Principles of everyday behavior analysis /Brooks Cole/1980.
2. Dorlands Medical Dictionary