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Punishment is the introduction of negative stimuli or removal of positive stimuli in order to decrease a behavior.  

Four Basic Types of Punishment 

Time Out – is the removal of the child from positive stimuli. However, it is important to ensure that the motivation behind the behavior that one hopes to decrease is made clear to the individual before a time out is considered. 


Example: When a child does not want to participate in the activity, he might like to scream. If he will be given a time out or removed from the scene, it will actually teach him to do the same thing next time as it was successful in taking him out of the undesirable activity the first time.  

Extinction – is the discouragement of a behavior by ignoring the behavior. Extinction can be difficult to implement but is often successful at decreasing or even eliminating behaviors. However, an increase in undesirable behavior will likely occur when the method is first employed. Vigilance and patience is essential for the method to be effective.


Example: A parent gives a child his favorite cookie everyday and puts it on the table for him to get. But one day she puts it on the top-shelf, where it is impossible for him to reach. The child will try and try to get it, even up to the extent of making ways to reach it. Until the time comes that he just does not try to get the cookie anymore.  

Response Cost – is based upon a token economy system. Tokens are taken away from the individual for occurrences of an undesirable behavior.


Example: When a child is given $20 and he wants to play video games in an arcade, he will lose all his money doing so and not have anything left to buy snacks, therefore, he will avoid spending all his money on a video game in order to buy food next time.


Caution must be observed when using the token economy system. It is a very valuable tool in teaching yet can be a bit difficult in winning the trust of a child. It can confuse and greatly upset the child and can lead him to no longer trust the system.  

Aversive Stimuli – are the least used form of stimuli as they are considered negative stimuli, which are introduced after an undesirable behavior. Some of the most severe examples are spanking and scolding. As a general rule, aversive stimuli should be avoided especially in school settings, as they often do more harm than good.

Aversive stimuli may backfire as it may surpass good behavior and encourage avoidance, bad behavior, escape and strain relationship between child and adult.  

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