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Now, Later, Never — When to Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement can be very effective way to be a Strengths Hero for yourself or someone else  — whether that means a simple pat on the back or using some other type of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is widely accepted as a powerful method of teaching, training and building positive habits and behaviors and growing talents into strengths.

But WHEN should you give it to yourself or someone else?

Utah State University published a behavioral guidelines checklist which confirms that positive reinforcement is most effective when it occurs immediately after the behavior. The guidelines also recommend the reinforcement should be presented enthusiastically and should occur frequently. 

The shorter the amount of time between any talent or behavior you want to reinforce and the subsequent positive reinforcement, the stronger the connection will be in the brain — remember the brain tells us to move TOWARD pleasure and AWAY from pain.

Delay of positive reinforcement…

If a long period of time elapses between the behavior and the positive reinforcement, the connection will be weaker from the behavior to the brain and heart. So as the delay increases, the effectiveness of the reinforcement decreases. The scary thing is that I find many people aren’t giving themselves much, if any positive reinforcement, ever – urghh! And then they wonder why they aren’t feeling motivated and confident!

So the important message here is to catch yourself and others engaged in the natural talents and and strengths you want to help grow and then find lots of ways to enthusiastically reinforce them as quickly as possible.  You’ll be building connections from the talents to the pleasure center in the brain. It just makes sense 😉

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