Essay Preview: Instrumental Conditioning
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In the world of child rearing, the use of instrumental conditioning is apparent from learning to walk to learning how to drive. In this paper, it is going to focus on potty training a child, as well as explain how positive and negative reinforcement have some similarities and differences, how rewards and punishment which is now called consequences or non-physical discipline can be applied and conclude on which form of instrumental conditioning is most effected with a child during potty training.
According to Staddon and Cerutti (2003), they believe that both humans and animals will adapt to the acceptable behavior to obtain a reward and steer clear of consequences. “It is also the name for the paradigm in experimental psychology by which such learning and action selection processes are studied” (p. 118). Each and every behavioral from how a politician rates in the poll to how a person conducts themselves are guided by consequences. Depending on the consequence will let the human or animal know if it is a behavioral is something to repeat or change. Potty training is a natural part of growing up. When as child begins to verbalize that they have to go pee or poop, they are ready to learn how to use the commode. There is no set age that this will take place. With parents talking to the child about going pee or poop, will open the door for recognition and readiness.
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement with potty training is key to changing a behavior without fear. When a child is ready to begin the process, introducing the potty seat is the first set. When the potty seat is introduced, the parent or car giver needs to be positive and a cheerleading when talking about it and how easy it will be. The next step for the parent/guardian and the child is make a calendar and pick out sticker that will be used to show each time the child uses the potty seat. Allowing the child to help with this process, helps to empower the child and cause the “buy in.” When potty training beings the parent/guardian must be consistent and positive. Using light tones and non-threating body language is the key. Each time the child uses the potty seat, will be the time for the parent/guardian becomes the cheerleader and the child is able to place a sticker on that day on the calendar. With the consistent reinforcement from the parent/guardian will keep potty training a positive adventure and rewarding for the child, as well as success in potty training. “In positive reinforcement, the reinforcer is contingent on performance of the instrumental response” (Terry, 2009, p. 91). Positive reinforcement can be seen as praise, rewards and drive to succeed. Each of these will promote the child to do what is necessary to receive it. When negative reinforcement is used the outcome is much different.
Negative reinforcement in potty training can cause fear of both using the potty seat as well as fear if the child has an accident. Negative reinforcement encompasses specific behaviors being reinforced by the consequence of discontinuing or circumventing a negative action. It has been often confused as punishment, but each of these are very different. Negative reinforcement strengthens behavior while punishment decreases behavior due to a negative circumstance is presented as a consequence to the behavior.
When applying this thought process to potty training, the parent/guardian needs to teach the child the expectations and possible negative outcomes. The child needs to learn that staying dry will produce a reward and show the child that this is the preferred behavior. This is where the use of rewards, either a treat or toy comes into play. If the expected outcome is not met, then the child must understand the punishment as well. During the time when a child is in a diaper, they do not understand