Operant Conditioning - Part 2 - Punishment Essay Example

            Operant conditioning is considered as a means by which the occurrence of a particular behavior may be decreased or increased based on what happens after the behavior is performed, whether it is negative or positive (Ciccarelli & Meyer, 2006). It is a technique that is used to produce positive behaviors among people and while it may seem to be a complicated process, it could be easily applied in everyday living to change the behavior of an individual. Within it are three techniques which are punishment, positive reinforcement, or negative reinforcement (Ciccarelli & Meyer, 2006). The first person to coin the process as operant conditioning is B.F. Skinner but it is the study of Edward Thorndike which paved the way for interests and further study in the area of operant conditioning (Ciccarelli & Meyer, 2006).

Positive reinforcement, as the term connotes, involves the use of something positive as it is given for an individual to continue doing a certain act or performing a particular behavior (Ciccarellu & Meyer, 2006). From experience, I could easily discern the situations where I had the chance to use positive reinforcers for my children to have them act in a particular manner. As children oftentimes have difficulty getting up in the morning especially and this is a difficult situation when there are tasks that need to be completed early in the morning. I sometimes could not force them to get out of their beds even if I repetitively tell them that they need to get up early. Likewise, I realize the fact that, since they are still young at that time, they needed much sleep. This is in addition to the fact that they have to stay up late the night before because they are also doing entertainment or academic activities. What I do is I list down their favorite meals for breakfast and serve this early to help them get up. I consider food to be a very strong object that leads them out of the bed and eat in the table happily even if it is really a bit early for them to do so.

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This does not only give them the chance to eat their breakfast, mingle with their siblings, and get up early for the sight of their favorite meals keeps them happy and gets their days started right. It is important that I am consistently doing this and I even add more creativity in their meals each day. Another situation where I use positive reinforcement is in teaching them and helping them acquire the right set of values. As toddlers, my children had to learn moral values early so that they could bring this through their development as persons. Whenever I see positive values from them such as sharing and being fair with their playmates, I give them due recognition. I had to mention the positive value they exhibited and explained to them its importance. While, indeed, I may not be there at all times, I make sure that I give them the reinforcers every incident I witness. Other forms of rewards that I provide include their favorite candy bar, a trip to their favorite toy store, a visit to their favorite friend, and others. I always find a way by which I determine the things they aspire for and provide it after I see the things that I want to see from them. As they grow up, different behaviors are demanded from them and the things which I provide for as rewards also get complicated at times. For example, they wish for more expensive things and harder to get that also leads me to work harder to give them the rewards they also had to earn.

Likewise, I also realize the need to balance their night activities and would want to keep them in bed as early as possible if they are not doing anything. To do this, I had to ensure that they are able to keep a balance with regard to the activities that entertain them and the completion of academic tasks. While it may be hard for them to do this, discipline is the rule that they have to keep in mind. Likewise, I free them from the chores they do not want to do just for them to be able to maintain their discipline and keep their mind on the goals that they set for their selves. This includes washing the dishes or keeping their closets neat, which have to be done by me or a helper. While this may have a negative impact on their willingness to take on responsibilities at home in terms of chores, it increases their ability to keep with their goals. In due time, when they have the capability to handle multiple responsibilities that includes that of the tasks at home and at school, then it would be easier for them to take both.

            Aside from reinforcers, there are also forms of punishment that could be either positive or negative depending whether it is given or not. Punishment is differentiated by Ciccarelli & Meyer (2006) from negative reinforcement with the fact that in the former, something is done after the behavior is achieved to reduce or prohibit the occurrence of the behavior whereas for the latte, something is taken away to increase the likelihood of the behavior to occur again. In differentiating between negative and positive punishment, patterning it after the positive and negative reinforcement is really helpful. Negative punishment is seen as a punishment where something is taken away whereas that of positive punishment involves providing something or responding to a particular behavior in negative terms to prevent it from occurring again.

            In raising my children, I have seen the need for punishments and very much agrees that a child that has felt the severity of punishment grows better in terms of personal development. It is something that has been proven through experience and without it, children will simply turn into individuals who never knew the value of being punished.

            Punishment for children is considered to be a justified act if it stands within the grounds of the welfare of the child (Wilson, 2002).  Where punishing the child leads the child to better paths, it is seen to be a necessary tool for parents. Likewise, the punishment of children as the parent considers their welfare is coupled with the need for the children to be able to improve their behavior and acquire a desired set of moral values (Golash, 2005).

            I use a variety of positive and negative punishments for my children as it is fits the situation. I will take positive punishments first into consideration.

            Positive punishment, as described above, involves introducing something after the behavior is elicited to restrict the performer from doing it again. As it is normal for any child to socialize with others outside the house, they oftentimes learn about terms to which negative definitions are attached. There are even times where they see this in televisions and imitate it in their everyday social interaction. As a parent, I definitely could not accept them uttering those words as they are not needed and only detracts their peers from socializing with them. Likewise, I see that there are effects with regard to relationships that is why I would immediately react and give them counseling as soon as I hear them speak such words. My expression of disapproval through the things that I say regarding their behavior definitely sinks in them and that this is something that they consider before they repeat the act. In addition to this, I could make them perform chores they do not want to do when they commit severe violations with regard to the house rules that I provide them.

            There are also a number of negative punishments that I use for them to refrain from engaging in a particular behavior. This includes taking away their privileges and forms of entertainment such as their use of cellular phones, internet, and television. Once their grades become lower because they engage in socializations that are necessary, I immediately take these privileges away for them to learn how to value the concept of learning. Likewise, I am also given the privilege of suspending their license and this provides me with the chance to punish them when they are not able to follow my rules with regard to going out. Teenagers nowadays tend to forget the time they spend with their friends and as a parent, I need to take their car privileges for them to refrain from taking too much time out.

            These are the several forms of punishment and reinforcements that I use as I raise up my children. While I may consciously or unconsciously do it, it has become an important part of their development as persons that lead them to take learning from operant conditioning. There are several important points that I see as effective for my children and there are some which did not have any impact at all. I could say that it has become indeed necessary for me as a parent to utilize different forms of learning depending on the situation. There are several needs of the children and punishment and reinforcements are better used as justified by the need to look after their welfare.

References

Ciccarelli, S. & Meyer, G. (2006). Psychology, Mypsychlab Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Golash, D. (2005). The case against punishment: Retribution, crime prevention, and the law. NY: New York University Press.

Wilson, W. (2002). Central issues in criminal theory. Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing.

 

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