Contingencies and Child Care

     Punishment is aimed to weaken a behavior, while reinforcement is aimed to strengthen a behavior. Many parents use one of the four types of contingencies in order to weaken and strengthen specific behaviors in the children. The four types of contingencies include positive punishment, negative punishment, positive reinforcement, and negative reinforcement. Positive punishment refers to presenting a stimulus which leads to a decrease in a response. Negative punishment refers to removing a stimulus which leads to a decrease in a response. Positive reinforcement refers to presenting a stimulus in order to increase a response, while negative reinforcement is removing a stimulus to increase a response

    Punishment can be used by a guardian in order to weaken a response in their child. A common form of negative punishment used by parents is known as time-out. By sending a child somewhere else when they act out for a period of time is an example of a time-out. A problem with time-out is that it can actually reinforce a behavior instead of punishing it. If you send your child to somewhere they would prefer, such as their room, when they were previously acting out somewhere they did not want to be, it will instead reinforce the behavior because the child prefers their room. An example of parenting using positive punishment is smacking a child when they misbehave, or most other forms of physical punishment. I disagree with the physical forms of positive punishment, as I feel like it would just make the child scared of you.

    Reinforcement can be used by parents to achieve the goal of strengthening a response in their child. Positive reinforcement can be used in many ways to get a child to continue a behavior. By giving a child a snack that they enjoy when they complete their homework, you are positively reinforcing them. By removing a stimulus and it strengthening a response, you are negatively reinforcing a response. An example of negative reinforcement in child care is if your child gets cavities, and they start brushing their teeth more afterward because they don’t like getting cavities filled. In this example, there is an increase in a behavior because the child wants to not go to the dentist.


Powell, R. A., Symbaluk, D. G., & Honey, P. L. (2023). Introduction to learning and behavior. Cengage.


  1. I find it interesting the different contingencies bring out different results in the behavior of children.


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