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Question
Posted by: Edie | 2012/08/14

Positive Reinforcement

Dear CS

I have two questions:

1. What would CBT entail?
2. I have read the theory behind positive reinforcement wrt discipling my 3yr old. We have a sticker chart now, to reward good behaviour. But then hubby said that he thinks that the day should start with all the stars and should he then not cooperate we take it away, thereby starting the day on a positive note rather than him having to work for it. He is very good, he only has a couple of things that we’ re working on. But if we do the latter is that then not negative reinforcement? And should you give the star for good behaviour, can you then take it away again, which would be negative again?? I dont know, I’ m struggling with the practical side of it. Any insight would be appreciated. It’ s just that when we do take away a star, he freaks out and I dont think that is the proper way, although it is still helping with his overall behaviour. Maybe negative reinforcement works better for some? Or is that never the case?

Thanks

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

lets see. 1). Its a form of psychotherapy ( talking therapy ). But there's more good research showing it to be effective in a wide range of conditions than for other forms of counselling, and it usually doesn't take as long. Also, it has lasting benefits, especially as it includes your learning how to asess and deal with similar problems shopuld they arise in future.
You'd basically work with the therapist to assess the situation and its related problems, work out exercises to try and test alternative ways of responding to those situations, assess the outcomes, and chose and learn the alternative way that works best.
I hear what your husband is suggesting, but he is mistaken. Basically, awarding stars and positive stuff that is unearned, makes the stars essentially worthless. If everyone was given matric certificates on their first day at school, nobody else would pay any attention to matric certificates which would have no value at all.
And the system you are trying to use isn't one where the child starts in a negative way - the start is neutral - no stars, no negative crosses ( its worth haviing a negative equivalent to a star for especially bad behaviour or neglect of the agreed rules - if he has no more stars to lose, how do you respond to a failure ? ). So the child is free to accumulate positive stars which, being earned, should be more valued by him, and attract sensibel rather than empty, praise from his parents.
A system with only rewards and no demerits is far less efefctive than one which effectively mimics the real world, where there are negative as well as positive consequences to the choices we make.
There's nothing wrong with negative consequences as such, so long as they're realistic and not too harsh, and so long as the system is not entirely based on negativity.
I suspect the lad freaks out on losing a star because he has picked up on his dad's muddled feelings about this. The system must always be consistent and clearly explained to and understood by, the child - so he knows he may lose a star if he doesn't do the good thing he knows how to do, but he can earn the star again, by doing things right the next time.

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/08/14

lets see. 1). Its a form of psychotherapy ( talking therapy ). But there's more good research showing it to be effective in a wide range of conditions than for other forms of counselling, and it usually doesn't take as long. Also, it has lasting benefits, especially as it includes your learning how to asess and deal with similar problems shopuld they arise in future.
You'd basically work with the therapist to assess the situation and its related problems, work out exercises to try and test alternative ways of responding to those situations, assess the outcomes, and chose and learn the alternative way that works best.
I hear what your husband is suggesting, but he is mistaken. Basically, awarding stars and positive stuff that is unearned, makes the stars essentially worthless. If everyone was given matric certificates on their first day at school, nobody else would pay any attention to matric certificates which would have no value at all.
And the system you are trying to use isn't one where the child starts in a negative way - the start is neutral - no stars, no negative crosses ( its worth haviing a negative equivalent to a star for especially bad behaviour or neglect of the agreed rules - if he has no more stars to lose, how do you respond to a failure ? ). So the child is free to accumulate positive stars which, being earned, should be more valued by him, and attract sensibel rather than empty, praise from his parents.
A system with only rewards and no demerits is far less efefctive than one which effectively mimics the real world, where there are negative as well as positive consequences to the choices we make.
There's nothing wrong with negative consequences as such, so long as they're realistic and not too harsh, and so long as the system is not entirely based on negativity.
I suspect the lad freaks out on losing a star because he has picked up on his dad's muddled feelings about this. The system must always be consistent and clearly explained to and understood by, the child - so he knows he may lose a star if he doesn't do the good thing he knows how to do, but he can earn the star again, by doing things right the next time.

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