Positive reinforcement is a very powerful and effective teaching tool that can help shape and change behavior. Initially promoted by B.F. Skinner, positive reinforcement works by presenting a motivating item (reward) after the desired behavior is exhibited, making the behavior more likely to happen again.
Parenting research consistently demonstrates the benefits of positive reinforcement, especially when compared with negative, critical discipline. Recently a study evaluated the effects of positive experiences on brain development in 188 adolescents followed for four years. The authors demonstrated physical structural changes in adolescent brains they attributed to positive parenting and speculated that these changes may be protective against development of depression. (Whittle S, Simmon JG, et al. Positive parenting predicts the development of adolescent brain structure: A longitudinal study. Develop Cognitive Neuroscience. 2014; 8: 7 – 17)
Please remember--if your children demonstrate negative behaviors, always give them opportunities to change that behavior--never leave them feeling hopeless. “I am sure you will make a better decision the next time you face the temptation to cheat on an exam.” “So you have learned from this experience, so next time you can do better.”