Undoubtedly the most commonly used behavior modification technique, positive reinforcement is the giving of something pleasurable in anticipation that it will improve behavior. You probably are already an expert at positive reinforcement; each time you praise your child you are using positive reinforcement in hopes that he will repeat the desired behavior.
What you give in positive reinforcement is called a reinforcer. There are an infinite number of possible reinforcers. In order for the reinforcer to be effective in increasing desirable behavior, it must be something your child likes. If you give him a lima bean when he completes his homework, chances are he will not do much homework tomorrow. However, if you give him a hug, pat, smile, time with television, computer or video games, a food treat, or points toward a prize, he will be more likely to do his homework the next day.
Positive reinforcement can also increase undesirable behaviors. If you give your child a cookie each time she tantrums, you are increasing the chance that she will tantrum in order to earn a cookie. Understanding that positive means giving and reinforcement means increasing, you can use positive reinforcement to give things to increase desirable behaviors and avoid giving things that increase undesirable behavior.