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Increase Desired Behaviors with Positive Reinforcement


Updated July 14, 2011

Definition: A positive reinforcer may be used as part of a behavior intervention plan (BIP). Unlike negative reinforcers, positive reinforcers are strategies used to help increase targeted behaviors in students who are experiencing academic or behavioral problems at home and school.

Positive reinforcers help students learn behaviors necessary to be successful academically and socially. For example, a student's behavior goal may be to increase the amount of time he stays on-task in class. Positive reinforcers would be used as a reward for improving over a period of time.

Positive reinforcers include any actions, consequences, or rewards that are provided to a student and cause an increase in desired behavior. They may include rewards and privileges that students like and enjoy. For example, a student may earn physical rewards such as school supplies, healthy snacks, or choice of free-time activities.

When choosing a positive reinforcer, it is important for the IEP team to know the child well. If possible, it can be helpful to allow the child to help choose the type of positive reinforcers he would like to earn.

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Positive reinforcers increase a student's targeted behaviors. Positive reinforcers are similar to rewards, but they are also intended to increase behaviors over time. They are not just a one-time reward for good behavior.

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