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Reinforcement vs. Punishment | Understanding Behavior Modification

All parents want their children to exhibit positive behaviors that will help them transition smoothly through the different stages of their development. And while parents have the best intentions, they often don’t use the most effective discipline strategies to achieve that goal. Granted, parents do their best to implement the knowledge and experiences that they have in their parenting. However, becoming more familiar with operant conditioning concerning behavior modification strategies such as positive reinforcement can take their parenting to a new level.

Operant conditioning was founded by B.F. Skinner, who believed that the most effective method for understanding behavior, looked at the causes of an action and its outcomes. His findings derived from Edward Thorndike’s work on the “Law of Effect.” Through this “method of learning,” relationships are made between behaviors and consequences, which can be positive or negative. As Skinner performed his studies, he found that reinforced or rewarded actions were more likely to be repeated.

In operant conditioning, there are key terms used to describe the types of responses, which are often confused. Positive means adding something; negative means taking something away; reinforcement means increasing a behavior; and punishment means decreasing a behavior.

  1. Positive Reinforcement: A behavior is strengthened by the addition of a desirable stimulus. Eg. A parent gives a child more time to play video games if he cleans his room.
  2. Negative Reinforcement: A behavior is strengthened by the removal of an undesirable stimulus. Eg. A parent makes a child pay $5 every time her room is not clean.
  3. Positive Punishment: A behavior is weakened by the addition of an undesirable stimulus. Eg. A parents scolds a child when they misbehave.
  4. Negative Punishment: A behavior is weakened by removing a desirable stimulus. Eg. A parent takes away a child’s favorite toy when they misbehave.

Many parents fall into the discipline strategies involving punishment. And while it can be useful in the moment, more long-term effects such as fear and aggression can be instilled. Through his studies, Skinner found that positive reinforcement was the most effective method of reinforcing desirable behaviors.

When it comes to behavior modification, Glens Falls Karate Academy utilize positive reinforcement as the go-to approach. Our Instructors are trained in science and psychology to impact children’s lives positively. In the classroom, students earn stripes for their belts when they work hard to achieve a new skill. When they receive eight stripes, they can earn a higher-level belt. Also, the class structure allows time for a “game” at the end of class as a reward for hard work. These positive reinforcement strategies are also shared with parents in ways that can be implemented at home.

Using positive reinforcement strategies can aid parents in fostering more positive behaviors in their children. Although this takes a little more time and effort to implement, the benefits are long-lasting. Additionally, children will feel more confident and happy, and the parent-child bond will improve.

To learn more about our child development program that utilizes dynamic martial arts and cutting-edge brain training as the vehicle for maximum growth or to get your child started select a program below.

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Early SKILLZ
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3–4 year-olds are naturally curious. They might not be ready for the rigid structure of a traditional martial arts class ... but they do need to start learning about appropriate social behavior!

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Basic SKILLZ
1st Grade - 3rd Grade

It's often easy for teachers and parents to overestimate 5-6 year old children. They're better at following directions and paying attention than younger children, but they still need some help controlling themselves and focusing on tasks.
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Children are like sponges. They absorb things quickly and easily - far more easily than we do as adults. Not only are they getting healthier as they learn martial arts, but they're also learning the value of self-discipline and respect.
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Karate may normally make you think of self-defense, fitness, and discipline ... the truth is, it's all of that and WAY more!
Our program helps our students build skills that they can APPLY to every area of their life and empower them to be the very best they can possibly be!



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Instead of giving into the moodiness and attitude, take them to our dojo instead! Teenagers are smart and capable - but they can also be their own worst enemies. Between peer pressure, their innate urge to rebel against their parents, and their surging hormones, they can be impossible to be around. But all they need is an outlet for their frustrations - and an opportunity to be their best.- DISCOVER -

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Ages 17+

Martial arts training is fun, empowering, and provides a great workout for adults. Studying martial arts is something that anybody - at any age or fitness level - can do. Our programs make learning fun, empowering, and provides a great workout for busy parents!



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