Using Positive Reinforcement With Young Children

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Authors: Jessica K. Hardy, PhD, Ragan H. McLeod, PhD


Positive reinforcement is a research-based practice essential for supporting young children’s use of appropriate behaviors and skills. The application of positive reinforcement also is consistent with recommendations by national organizations for early childhood and early childhood special education. In this article, we describe eight guidelines for planning, implementing, and evaluating positive reinforcement in early childhood contexts that are based on current research and recommendations of these professional organizations. Examples of the use of guidelines and tools for supporting implementation are provided.

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