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Published: June 28, 2011

Delay of gratification

A not uncommon error of primary and secondary schoolteachers, particularly in their occasional neglect to return graded papers soon enough to serve as effective reinforcement for student academic behavior. Immediate reward is deemed essential reinforcement for children in childhood and early adolescence, and such delays only weaken the relevance of the reward to the behavior it is designed to reinforce. (See also CONDITIONING.)