The ADHD Smarter Parenting’s Podcast

Ep #56: Reinforcing good behavior using Effective Positive Rewards

January 1, 2020

Parents can change behavior either by reducing bad behavior using Effective Negative Consequences or by positive reinforcement using Effective Positive Rewards.

These two behavior skills are mirror skills and use the same five elements to be successful. For many parents, it’s easier to give a consequence than it is to give positive rewards. Giving positive rewards is more effective long-term in shaping your child’s behavior. 

We encourage every parent to learn how to successfully use Effective Positive Rewards for behavior modification.

Rewarding your child for positive behavior will give your child confidence and encourage them to learn and grow. 

What makes a reward effective? Using the five components: immediacy, size/degree, consistency, important, and varied; of the behavior skill Effective Positive Rewards allows parents to use primary reinforcers to encourage better behavior. 

Immediacy means that the positive reward should be given as close to the positive behavior so they can connect their positive action with the reward.

Degree/size means that the consequence should match the behavior. This one is difficult for a lot of parents as we tend to give rewards that are disproportional to the positive behavior.

Consistent means giving a reward every time a positive behavior happens. Consistency is very comforting to children as it teaches them that they can trust you and that you’re seeing and acknowledging what they are doing well. 

Important means that the reward needs to matter to your child. If you are giving rewards that don’t mean a thing to your child, they aren’t motivated to improve their behavior. By using primary reinforces that matter, your child is more likely to continue positive behavior. What matters to each child will be different and may take some trial in finding out precisely what is essential to them.

Varied means that you should give a variety of positive rewards. If parents give the same reward for all behaviors, the reward loses its effectiveness over time. 

Increasing positive behavior with Effective Positive Rewards requires parents to understand what makes a reward effective, but also how to use the behavior skill Effective Negative Consequences. Rewards and consequences go hand and hand, and parents need to understand both to be effective.

Visit Episode 55, for the discussion on Effective Negative Consequences. 

For more information about Effective Positive Rewards, visit the episode podcast page on

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