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As my son has grown so has his use of shorthand responses to my questions. I found myself tiring of responses such as yeah, uhuh, and yup for affirmative responses. I tried to change this behavior by ignoring responses from him, pretending not to have heard or, I would respond by saying" is that a yes? This proved to have no positive result since he would most often answer that question with a "yeah" as well. My plan was to positively reinforce the use of "yes" and see if that would increase his usage of it, rather than the grunts and other types of responses.



                The intent of my project was to see if the positive reinforcement of "yes" responses would lead to an increase in my son's usage of it.



I reinforced the use of yes with a verbal "wow" and or a wink, salute, smile or thumbs up gesture whenever possible.

I decided on five questions to use as a measure of gauging any changes. These questions were designed to require an affirmative response. If a negative response was received there was an additional follow up question that required an affirmative response. For example if I asked "did you have a good day?" and the answer was negative I would ask "are you glad it's over?" With my final goodnight I would mention how many "yes " responses he had given and say wow" that many times as I attempted to kiss him that many times, saying "yes" before each kiss.

The combinations of questions I used were:

1.      Did you brush your teeth? (After having him brush; did you turn off the water?)

2.      Do you have clothes for tomorrow? (Do you need me to wash something?)

3.      Do you need me to sign your assignment book? (Did I sign your assignment book?)

4.      Do you want a drink of water? (Did you get a drink already?)

5.      Do you want me to shut the door? (Do you want the door open a little bit?)



For the first four days I counted the number of yes responses without any type of reinforcement to determine the number of "yes" responses I would get if I did nothing. From day 5 on I used positive reinforcement both at the time of occurrence during the day and directly after asking the specific "Bedtime questions".

The following table and chart document the results of the two-week period including the four days of no reinforcement and the ten days of positive reinforcement.


Day One         >  0

Day Four        >  0

Day Seven     >   0

Day Ten        >    4

Day Thirteen  >   3

Day Two        >  1

Day Five        >  3

Day Eight      >   5

Day Eleven   >    3

Day Fourteen  >  4

Day Three      >  0

Day Six          >  3

Day Nine       >   5

Day Twelve  >    4




During this project I had to adjust to the situation at two specific times. The first was as I was attempting to gather preliminary data regarding the number of "yes" answers during the first four days. Initially I wanted to reinforce and count the number of "yes" responses as they occurred on a daily basis, However, I noticed that the use of "yes" in a response often seemed to lead to a longer and more detailed answer to the question asked. For example the responses to the following question "Did you have a good day at school today? Day one; "yeah" seven; "yes, we got to have a long recess because the teachers had to talk with the principal about..." and so on. Since the yes answers seemed to cause longer conversations I decided it would be impractical to count and document each answer by occurrence. I decided to document on a daily basis determined by responses to controlled questions asked at bedtime.

 The second was on day seven; my son decided he didn't want the resulting kisses from "yes" answers and refused to give any. I adjusted the reinforcement to omit kisses and substituted playful punches and or tickles instead. I realized that the reinforcement used has to be tailored to be a positive in the eyes of the subject rather than the eyes of the tester.

Through the use of positive reinforcement I was able to increase my son's use of "yes" to respond to questions requiring an affirmative response. The benefit of this was increased communication and well worth the effort.