I love seeing each of my students' faces light up when they are provided with positive reinforcement. Their smiles are priceless and it really makes them try even harder. Think back to parents, teachers, mentors and other individuals in our lives that made us smile on those bad days through encouraging words or even a simple "Wow, you did it!". Therefore, I think it is so important for us to continue to incorporate positive reinforcement into our sessions and life in general. If we can find something positive to say first and then incorporate what we want our student and/or client to work on next time, then I think each individual is more receptive to what the clinician says. Positive reinforcement can be modified for all ages. Below are some of the themes that I have used throughout some of my sessions:
B.F. Skinner said it best, "The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount."
One of the fondest memories that I have from graduate school is the impact that positive reinforcement had with one of my clients. This child in particular loved penguins and up until I incorporated penguins into the session, I never really felt like I was getting very far with some of the therapy sessions. I started to incorporate penguins somehow within each session whether it was receiving a penguin sticker after producing 10 sounds or if it was receiving a piece of paper with penguin letterhead printed from the computer. Penguins made all of the difference because it helped the clinician and client to build a rapport based on the notion that the therapist took the time to incorporate an interest of the child. To an outsider looking in, this statement may sound a little unrealistic, but sometimes it surprises me how much the dynamics of a session can change by finding something that interests the child and/or adult. It is all in how the reinforcement is carried out because sometimes it is in the smallest ways that make the biggest difference. Some of the pictures above are a few of the the items that I have used with children as reinforcement during some of the sessions.