But the real shaping comes when we receive intermittent reinforcement. We don't know when we might be observed following rules. We do the best we can, because there is a chance that if we are caught doing right, we might really get the big pay off. Imagine the power of knowing that if we are caught doing the speed limit, a policeman might pull us over and give us a hundred bucks.
In my life this has become a very true principle. I am never quite sure if or when there will be a payoff, but I try to live as if I am ready to be caught. Caught doing something right. This by no means should convince you that I am completely in control. Puh-lease. But I teach my children with the hope that there will be random opportunities for me to witness them being great adults, and great emerging adults. This is an intermittent reinforcer. At some unknown and unplanned place and time, #3 will stand up to someone and say, My mom taught me that I am worth something.
That would be so cool, wouldn't it? Where a regular schedule of reinforcement allows for training, intermittent reinforcement allows for living.
ps I love special ed, where I am blessed enough to learn these principles.