What Is Reinforcement?

What is Reinforcement?

A definition of reinforcement is something that occurs when a stimulus is presented or removed following response and in the future, increases the frequency of that behavior in similar circumstances. (Cooper, Heron, and Heward 2007).
In other words, adding or taking something away AFTER a behavior occurs will increase the likelihood that the same behavior will happen again at a future time.


There are two types of reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is when something is added after a behavior occurs (ex. a Child receives a sticker or a high five after a correct response). Negative reinforcement is when something is taken away after a behavior occurs (ex. Taking medication when one has a headache- removal of the headache increases the likelihood that one will take the medication in the future).

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Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

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