What's the Difference Between Positive Reinforcement and Bribery?
Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Reinforcement is given after the child did the behavior.
For example: Let’s say your child struggles to get through homework. Before homework is even pulled out, you can say that AFTER successful completion of the homework, he can earn ice cream (ice cream=reinforcement)! However, he has to show that he completes the entire homework assignment first before he earns his treat.
Reinforcement teaches your child that this behavior is rewarded with his/her preferred activity, and will therefore want to repeat the behavior in the future.
Properly used, positive reinforcement is extremely powerful.
Bribery would be stating, “I will give you ice cream RIGHT NOW if you finish your homework!” Now, a potential issue with bribery is that there is no guarantee that the homework will actually be completed ANNNNND you may be reinforcing some challenging behaviors in the process. You are only hoping that the desired treat will be enough of a motivator to entice the child to complete the undesired task. That is a lot of unknowns happening there!
Bribery teaches your child that they can get rewarded by using challenging behaviors to get you exasperated.
"Behind every young child who believes in himself, is a parent who believed first."