In behaviorism, reinforcement refers to the consequences of desired behavior. Reinforcement may be either positive or negative, depending on its application.
In positive reinforcement, a reward is given for the desired behavior. For example, a parent might allow a child to stay up an hour late.
In negative reinforcement, something undesirable is taken away as a consequence of the desired behavior. For example, a parent might relieve a child from dishwashing duties for the evening.
Many experts believe that reinforcement is more effective than punishment in shaping long-term behavior. Punishment focuses on negative behaviors, while reinforcement ignores those and focuses only on desired behaviors.