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If positive reinforcement was to be explained in a couple of words, it would be 'timely encouragement'. As simple as that is, it happens to be a very elementary technique to implement discipline in the classroom. What's more, positive reinforcement is gentle and effective at the same time.

There are several ways to ensure disciplined behavior among children; additionally, it depends heavily on their age as well. However, if there is one technique that comes with a tested and proven track record, it's got to be positive reinforcement.

With children spending a significant part of their day in a classroom, there can't be a better place to encourage them into behaving well. Teachers can make sure that students understand the importance of good behavior, and as a result, behave well, rather than imposing it on them through rules and regulations.

Let's begin to understand the concept of positive reinforcement and take a look at the various ways in which you can implement it in order to bring about a marked improvement in your class.

What is Positive Reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement is the encouragement that follows good behavior. It is done in order to emphasize the positivity of the action. As a consequence, the person feels encouraged to repeat the positive action that earned the praise in the first place.

For instance, a student submits an assignment on time, and also includes some extra information that she gathered about the topic. The teacher, wanting to appreciate the student's efforts, awards her an extra 5 points for her assignment.

The teacher's action acts as an impetus for the student, who will feel good having gone that extra mile to achieve the praise, and is likely to repeat the same effort again. She could probably do so with renewed vigor the next time. This is the basic purpose of positive reinforcement. The idea behind the concept is to identify a good deed, and reward the action in order to emphasize and encourage it enough to be repeated.

Make it Work in your Class
Positive reinforcement, as the name goes, is a very hassle-free technique to bring about a sense of responsibility and discipline in a class. It does not involve any kind of force that would pressurize a student into behaving well. In fact, it works in the exact opposite manner.

By identifying and rewarding the child's good deed, it makes him/her realize the righteousness of the action. This would motivate him/her to repeat it, and hopefully, make a habit of it eventually.

Verbal praise also acts as a very good enforcer of a positive action. Phrases like "Good job", "Well done!", "Nice work" push the point home. Tangible rewards like toys, stationery, or candy can be given, but remember to do so sparingly. You wouldn't want a child to keep behaving in a certain manner with the sole purpose of being gifted an object.

It is important to note that the appreciative comments should immediately follow any good deed, and should be heard by the entire class. By doing this, not only does the child doing it feels nice, it sends the entire class a real-life lesson on good behavior. Secondly, youngsters aren't exactly known for their retentive memories.

Positive reinforcement, in certain ways, has been observed to be a more effective technique than punishment. There have been instances where punishments have not had the desired effect. In fact, it can make children rebellious at times. In any case, it can be agreed that focusing on the positives and encouraging them is a useful way to ensure good behavior.
How Positive Reinforcement Helps

Positive reinforcement encourages repetition of good deeds committed by the student.
It makes the students aware of where their strengths lie, and capitalize on them.
Specific praise helps the student understand the dos and don'ts better than listening to someone lecture about it.
While it is definitely important not to ignore negative actions, continued encouragement for positive actions can have long-standing effects.

Positive reinforcement is a good way of bringing about a sense of decorum in the classroom, and teachers would do well to incorporate these techniques in their daily interactions with students. The results may not be reflected with immediate effect, but they will definitely take shape in the long run.