Maryland Positive Behavior Support Training

Reinforcing and Celebrating Positive Behavior

A paper chain to represent the paper chain in the story on this page

The two roommates from the earlier story created a way to thank each other and keep track of how often they used their values at the same time. Each time a positive social behavior from the matrix was observed, the rooommate took a strip of paper and wrote down what the positive social behavior. This  strip of paper was then hooked to the paper chain that placed in the living room over the window. Over time, the paper chain grew in length. The roommates celebrated regularly and counted how many new paper chains were added each week. They decided to celebrate  by going out to eat when the paper chain was long enough to stretch across the picture window. 

Strategies for Recognizing and Reinforcing Positive Social Interactions and Behaviors:

  • Talk about what is reinforcing for each person involved since every person prefers certain types of ways to be recognized.
  • Design a way to remind people to look for positive social behaviors and recognize them in a positive way (thank you cards, paper chains).
  • Create a plan to give people four positive statements for every demand or critical statement during interactions.
  • Describe what occurred that was positive, behavior specific praise, when a positive social behavior is observed.

Providing reinforcement to someone after the person engages in a valued behavior in a way that:

  • Helps build positive relationships with others
  • Includes a clear description of what the person has done that is appreciated
  • Occurs as close in time to the behavior as possible

“Tamara I really appreciate the way you helped me bring in the groceries that were sitting by the door, that was really helpful.”


Think about a professional or personal relationship (past or present) that you felt was positive, thoughtful, or kind.  What were these interactions like?

  • What was reinforcing about these interactions?
  • Was there a balance between the number of positives in the interaction compared to statements or discussion that was difficult or negative?

List three things you find reinforcing and compare it to another colleague’s list

  • Were your lists similar?
  • What differences did you see?