Home > Babies > Operant conditioning: learning through punishment and rewards?

Operant conditioning: learning through punishment and rewards?

operant learning

Are you among those parents who use punishments when a kid has bad conduct? Either, do you praise and reward your child when it has good conduct? I believe that you are among them. Almost every parent and educator, use these educational techniques. But, what every parent doesn’t know is that these techniques represent a form of learning called  instrumental or operant conditioning.

For example, I will explain to you the experiment by Edward Thorndike. Namely, he placed a cat in a box with a lever and door. To escape from the box, the cat needed to press the lever which opened the box door. After a more trying to get rid of it, the cat pressed the lever accidentally. The escape was the cat’s reward. Thorndike had returned the cat to the box multi-time and cat succeed to get out of the box every time faster than before. Finally, after several repetitions of the same situation, the cat learned to press the lever immediately and go out from the box. Thorndike has called that observation the law effects. The law of the effect says that any behaviour that results in good consequences will be re-elected in the future.Operant Conditioning Edward Lee Thorndike

Types of punishments and reinforcements

There are two concepts of operant conditioning: reinforcements and punishments. Using reinforcement, we encourage good conduct. On another side, using punishments, we discourage bad behaviour. Both of them can be positive and negative. Be careful here, the terms positive and negative don’t mean good or bad. To explain, positive means adding and negative means of removing a stimulus.

Positive reinforcements mean adding stimuli to encourage good conduct. These are praise words, stunned on the shoulder, a positive grade in the school… In contrast, negative reinforcements mean removing stimuli to encourage good conduct. 

Positive punishments mean adding some stimuli to discourage bad conduct. For example, which is not recommended, a parent spanked a child because it had done something bad. Negative punishments mean removing some stimuli to discourage bad conduct. 

At the end… 

Above all, uur thoughts and feelings about behaviour consequences have a major role in the way we learn. In addition, a reward for some person is punishment for another. In fact, learning involves understanding the means of achieving the goal and all thoughts and feelings about those means and goals. For example, a child will react pleasantly when gets a cookie as a reward for good conduct, but if it likes that cookie. Therefore, operant conditioning is not as simple as it seems. Furthermore, it can result in negative consequences if we don’t use reinforcement and punishments in the right way. So, we must be careful in using it. Whit this in mind, in order to examine whether you are supporting the child in the right way, consider the following questions:

  • Do you use more negative or positive critics?
  • Do you use material things to reward a child?
  • Are the prizes bigger if the child is disobedient?
  • Do you ask the child what he/she needs?
  • Do you neglect your child emotionally?
  • Does your child feel depressed because of your negative critics?
  • Do you behave on the way that a child should not?


Do this article helps you to understand operant conditioning?


18 thoughts on “Operant conditioning: learning through punishment and rewards?

  1. Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Terrific blog and great style and design.

  2. Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would
    be ok. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  3. Good day! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really
    appreciate your content. Please let me know. Thanks

  4. Its such as you learn my thoughts! You appear to know a lot approximately this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you simply can do with some p.c. to pressure the
    message home a bit, however other than that, this is wonderful blog.
    A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

  5. Hello there! I just wish to give you a huge thumbs up for
    the excellent info you have got right here
    on this post. I’ll be returning to your website for more soon.

  6. Can I recently say such a relief to locate somebody that truly knows what theyre referring to online. You certainly have learned to bring an issue to light making it crucial. More and more people need to see this and see why side of the story. I cant believe youre no more popular since you certainly have the gift.

  7. Wonderful, what a webpage it is! This web site gives valuable information to us, keep it up.

  8. Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a
    sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said
    “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.”
    She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside
    and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is
    totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

  9. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great.

    I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if
    you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  10. “A round of applause for your blog post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.”

  11. I got this web page from my friend who informed me regarding this web site
    and now this time I am visiting this site and reading very informative
    articles or reviews at this time.

  12. Hi, the Operant conditioning: learning through punishment and rewards?

    article it is well written, it’s very informative.

    Give Your Child the Most Important Skill in Life – Reading.

    I found the Most Effective Method to Teach my Children to Read:
    Your child deserves the best education! 🙂 Kiss you All!

  13. I’m now not positive the place you’re getting your info, but great topic.
    I needs to spend a while learning much more or working out more.
    Thank you for fantastic info I used to be searching for this
    info for my mission.

  14. I am truly grateful to the owner of this web page who has shared this enormous paragraph at here.

  15. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice,
    keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back
    in the future. Many thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

9 − seven =