I went to lunch with my nephew and niece and observed their behavior with their parents. The setting was very casual. The kids were very excited because I was visiting them for the weekend in New York. They were not paying attention to eating and were behaving poorly. My brother and sister in law tried to get them to eat. They used negative punishment to help them eat. The kids were only drinking their juice, so my brother removed the juice and would not let them have it until they ate. The parents also used positive punishment and told the kids that if they did not finish their food they would not be able to watch movies when they got home. The kids did not respond well, they still refused to eat and threw some food on the floor. My niece started to scowl at her parents and my nephew ignored them altogether. The kids said that they did not like the food and it was making them “sick.” My sister in law then used positive reinforcement and told them they were not going to get dessert if they did not finish eating. This helped my niece to eat and she ended up getting ice cream. When my nephew saw her eating the ice cream he began to eat. The parents could have also used a form of negative reinforcement. When I was a child my parents would use this type of reinforcement when I did not eat. If I did not want to eat my lunch I would not be allowed to have anything else to eat for the rest of the day except the food I originally did not want to eat. I would get so hungry that I ended up giving in and eating the food. My response of eating the food removed the unpleasant stimulus of hunger. The best strategy used on my nephew and niece was positive reinforcement. Most kids like getting rewards of some kind. Also, I believe this worked best because when my nephew saw that everyone else was eating dessert he felt left out and had no other choice but to eat.
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