Tips on Delivering Reinforcement

When giving reinforcement, a therapist must be quick, energetic, and ready to pull any special toys or social praise for independent successes. As well, there are rules to how a therapist must deliver reinforcement.


  • Always pair a social praise with food or a toy. This is a method to teach the child to enjoy social praise and to fade food and toy reinforcers as the child ages.
  • It is a good idea to bring a bag of reinforcers from your home when you do a session. This avoids satiation from “normal” reinforcers that are present on a daily basis and sparks interest in the child. Reinforcers should be changed every time a Therapist does a session so that the child keeps guessing at what a Therapist has in their bag.
  • Remember to use the Premack Principle throughout your session. The Premack Principle states that a child will do a less desirable activity in order to get a more desirable activity. In this sense the activity becomes the reinforcement for the child. If the more desirable activity is contingent on a less desirable activity, then the less desirably activity is more likely to occur.

Presenting and Delivering Reinforcement is KEY

  • Presenting – Therapist can buy or use little party bags, fuzzy change bags, boxes, or canisters to carry reinforcers. Therapist can also wrap reinforcers individually for added fun. By presenting the reinforcers in this manner will increase the desirability of the reinforcer and make it much more motivating to work towards.
  • Delivering -When delivering reinforcement, Therapist should do the following -
    - Be in eyes view of the child (i.e. the child should not be looking up to you, but should be eye-to-eye)
    - Be genuinely happy

    - Don’t be too loud or monotone (make sure your reinforcement sounds different from other forms of a consequence such as a “No”)

    - Do not forget to reinforce good sitting, hands quiet, and compliance.

    - Use age appropriate reinforcement (i.e. tickling an 11 year old is inappropriate as using a lot of language for a child who cannot yet discriminate receptive language)

It is very important to learn to read the child. If the child is not enjoying the Therapist’s reinforcement, change it or do a program. As well, if the child is full of energy, using soft, soothing types of reinforcements will help the child to calm down therefore increasing maximum learning.

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