South School


Teachers Wish List


Principal’s Corner

Positive Reinforcement vs Bribery


Dear South School Friends and Families,

The kids are settling in, the teachers are hitting their stride, and our systems are “go”!  As we here at South are getting to know your students it is important that we join together to tackle the various behavior challenges that inevitably arise.  With that in mind, I’d like to write about the difference between Bribery and Reinforcement.  At South we use reinforcement as a tool to reward students for the good choices they make.  We try to foster skill growth by making the positive choice preferably to a more negative choice.  There are several important aspects of positive reinforcement including identifying a reward (reinforcer) that is valued by the child, like a sticker or praise, and making that reward predictable and consistently applied.  If the child knows they will be rewarded with something they want and that they will be reliably rewarded for the preferred behavior then you will see positive changes!  The underlying philosophy is that it is effective to make it preferable for kids to make good choices.   


Conversely, Bribery essentially rewards the behavior you don’t want to see.  A reinforcement plan sets out rewards contingent of specific behaviors beforehand, not in response to a “bad” behavior.  For example, if a child is screaming and yelling in the grocery store and the parent says “if you stop fussing I’ll buy you a candy bar” then the child knows that next time he or she is in the grocery store all that needs to be done to earn a candy bar is to start screaming.  With a reinforcement plan, the parent would have set what the reward is to be and what the behavior needs to be to earn the reward ahead of time so the child knows that acting poorly will actually prevent them from earning the candy bar. 


Just some things to think about.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me in the office.


Best Regards,


Justin Bennett

South School Principal






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