23 Strategies to Help Learners Who Require Immediate Rewards or Gratification to Behave Appropriately

Are you looking for strategies to help students who require immediate rewards or gratification to behave appropriately? If so, keep reading.

1. Get the student to keep a chart representing their own appropriate behavior so success is recognized.

2. Give the student positive feedback that indicates they are successful, competent, essential, valuable, etc., (e.g., give social reinforcement in place of concrete reinforcement).

3. Make sure that logical consequences follow appropriate behavior (e.g., recognition from the group for success, compliments, congratulations, etc.).

4. Minimize the emphasis on content rewards and increase the emphasis on intrinsic rewards (e.g., emphasize a job well done, improvement, personal success, etc.).

5. Give the student an abundance of concrete reinforcement so it may satisfy their need for gratification.

6. Show the task in an attractive and exciting manner with as much success built in as possible (e.g., the task should be inherently reinforcing).

7. Be sure to greet and acknowledge the student as often as possible rather than providing recognition only as a reinforcer.

8. Urge the student to save tokens, points, etc., over time for delayed reinforcement (e.g., make concrete reinforcement a goal rather than an instant need).

9. Make sure that reinforcement is not provided for unacceptable behavior (e.g., answering the student only when they make errors, answering the student when they misrepresent a need for help, etc.).

10. Talk regularly with the student to replace concrete reinforcement with social reinforcement.

11. Praise with tangibles less often as the student experiences more satisfaction with a job well done (i.e., intrinsic satisfaction begins to replace tangibles as reinforcement).

12. Make sure that reinforcement is used as a natural consequence for a job well done or for appropriate behavior.

13. Praise those students who can accept expanded periods between reinforcement.

14. Create classroom rules: • Complete every assignment. • Remain in your seat. • Finish tasks. • Meet task expectations. • Raise your hand. Examine rules often. Praise students for following the rules.

15. Talk with the student to explain(a) what the student is doing wrong (e.g., asking for reinforcement as soon as a task is finished) and (b) what the student should be doing (e.g., waiting for reinforcement until the end of the learning experience or until an established time, saving tokens or points for reinforcement at a later time, etc.).

16. Praise the student as often as appropriate while slowly increasing the amount of time between reinforcement: (a) give the student a concrete reward (e.g., privileges such as leading the line, handing out learning materials, 10 minutes of free time, etc.) or (b) give the student an informal reward (e.g., praise, handshake, smile, etc.).

17. Give reinforcement at routine (schedule) intervals so the student learns that reinforcement is delayed but forthcoming (e.g., free time, end of the day, Friday afternoon, etc.).

18. Do not criticize. On occasions where correcting the student, be honest yet compassionate. Never cause the student to feel negatively about themselves.

19. Assess the appropriateness of the task to ascertain (a) if the task is too easy, (b) if the task is too complicated, and (c) if the duration of time scheduled to finish the task is sufficient.

20. Connect with parents to disseminate information about the student’s progress. The parents may reinforce the student at home for tolerating expanded periods between reinforcement at school.

21. Draft an agreement with the student stipulating what behavior is required (e.g., working five minutes without asking for reinforcement) and what reinforcement will be available when the terms of the agreement have been met.

22. Consider using an adaptive behavior management app. Click here to view a list of apps that we recommend.

23. Click here to learn about six bonus strategies for challenging problem behaviors and mastering classroom management.

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