Using reinforcement can create an environment where your loved one has less time to engage in harmful or negative behaviors. It is helpful to understand the psychological concept of reinforcement.

Defining Reinforcement

Reinforcement is a psychological term that refers to anything that can increase or strengthen a behavior. A reinforcers are different for everyone  and are powerful tools for shaping behaviors.

The Types of Reinforcement

There are two types of reinforcement:

  • Positive reinforcement - Adding something to increase or strengthen a behavior, such as giving them praise (the reinforcer) for completing a task (the desired behavior).

  • Negative reinforcement - Removing something to increase or strengthen a behavior, such as canceling a test (the reinforcer) because every student in class turned in their homework on time (the desired behavior).

Creating a Healthy Environment Through Reinforcement

There is only so much time, energy, and resources in a day. If your loved one is putting them into something else, like a healthy activity, for example, they have less time, energy, and resources to put towards unhealthy behaviors. 

Through reinforcement, you can help reacquaint your loved one with interests that they may have given up and reconnect them with the people and things that they value. When your loved one performs desired behaviors, be sure to provide them with positive reinforcement by offering praise or by rewarding them in some way.