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Using Positive Reinforcement LB094

This week, we’re back to normal for episode 94, and we’re discussing something that doesn’t get a lot of attention – positive reinforcement. Punishment gets all the glory but positive reinforcement is a kinder, gentler method that can be highly effective.

In this episode:

  • What is positive reinforcement?
  • How is it different from punishment?
  • It can be used to instill discipline.
  • Not just for DD/lg dynamic although it seems popular there.
  • Good for goal-oriented submissives who like to see their progress.
  • Not all Dominants like the idea of punishment – nor do submissves – and this is a good alternative that’s also effective.

Links from the show:

Sign Up for Loving BDSM Community

3 Ways to Use Positive Reinforcement in Your D/s Relationship

Listen to us on Proud to Be Kinky

Support the show

Postcard Project

Kayla Lords on Fetlife

John Brownstone on Fetlife

Contact us!

Listen to the show:

iTunes

Google Play

Your favorite podcast app!

3 Ways to Use Positive Reinforcement in Your D/s Relationship

Punishment and discipline get a fair bit of attention in both D/s relationships as well as in BDSM. Scratch the surface of BDSM, and you’ll find plenty of arguments that discipline is better than punishment; punishment is necessary to maintain discipline; that the two are mutually exclusive; or that they’re separate but equal mechanisms for changing behavior or establishing order. There’s plenty of truth to any of these arguments depending on how you view the topic.

But what about Doms who want discipline from their submissive – better behavior, followed tasks, adherence to rules – but aren’t comfortable with punishment? The alternative, which gets little attention, is positive reinforcement. Instead of punishing bad behavior, reward the behavior you want to see.

For John Brownstone, who uses positive reinforcement with me regularly, it’s a tool for behavior modification. In our relationship, punishment comes into play when I fail to complete a task in service to him. If you choose positive reinforcement, you don’t have to reject punishment. Nor do all kinksters have to use punishment as a way to teach or enforce discipline. As with everything, the choice is between the Dominant and submissive and has to be based on what works in your dynamic.

If positive reinforcement is a new idea for you, here are three ways to use it in your D/s relationship.

Track Good Behavior

What behavior are you trying to change in your submissive? Waking up on time? Going to bed at an early hour? Working out? Eating healthy? Not saying mean things about themselves? Tracking each time a positive behavior is completed is a concrete way for a submissive to see progress.

Think about it. How many submissives (myself included) feel like a failure when we forget or screw up one time? We immediately forget all the times we did something right. Tracking with stickers, gold stars, a check mark, or any other symbol or sign is concrete, visible proof of progress. We can see how many times wevee doing the thing that changes our behavior or makes our Dominant happy. Sometimes that’s enough to keep a person going – a reminder of how often they get it right or the desire to keep earning more “good marks” for good behaviors.

Create a Reward System

If you go with a tracking system, the next (and most common) step is to create a reward system around it. You’ll see this most commonly in the Caregiver/little dynamic as stickers and treats tend to be motivators for some of us. And yes, I include myself in this. The reality, though, is that a goal-oriented person who can list a few “indulgences” they’d like to enjoy could benefit from this.

The rewards and the frequency in which they can be earned has to be decided between both of you. A reward should be something the submissive would not get otherwise (at all or rarely) while the frequency needs to be enough to motivate them to keep going. Here’s an example of how my reward systems have been done in the past:

  • A sticker (because I like stickers) for each time I completed the new behavior like going to the gym
  • After five stickers, I was rewarded with a small treat like the Starbucks coffee I’d avoided because I was working out.
  • When I earned 10 stickers, I received a bigger treat like a new pair of cute yoga pants I really wanted.
  • After 20 or 30 stickers, I was allowed to buy something that I didn’t need but definitely wanted like an expensive water bottle, new gear for my workouts, a dress (because after that many workouts, I’d lost a little weight).

What a submissive earns has to speak to them on a personal level. If it’s something they can go get for themselves whenever they want, it’s not an effective reward.

Give Praise

Neither John Brownstone nor I believe in fake, effusive praise. Don’t tell me I did a great job when I didn’t, and don’t praise me for doing something l consider a non-event, like breathing. What will work is a “Good job, Babygirl” when I finally remember something without being prompted. Some of my tasks for getting us ready for bed at night took forever to stick in my head. Each time I got it right without prompting from him, he praised me.

Not every submissive craves a “Good girl” or “Good boy” but some of us do. When we hear it after genuinely earning it, it’s a powerful statement. It can stick with us and help us remember next time. Sometimes knowing those two words will be our “reward” for a job well done is enough for us to change our behaviors. Quick tip: Once the behavior changes, don’t stop praising a submissive completely. It’s still an effective reminder that we’ve pleased you. 

Should You Try Positive Reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement is one way to help someone change their behavior or old habits. You won’t always get the method or reward system right the first time. And none of it works if a person doesn’t really want to change. The desire to change their behaviors, learn tasks, or perform in a certain way must come from within a submissive to a certain degree. But changing habits is difficult for many people, and what matters most is finding a method that works.

For those who find punishment too harsh for their tastes or who aren’t seeing progress in training their submissive, positive reinforcement is a kinder, gentler method. It’s also proven more effective than other methods. Like every other part of D/s, it must be talked about, agreed upon, and tweaked over time to fit both partners. Start slowly with one behavior you’d like to change and work up to a more complex or larger system for managing multiple goals and changed behaviors.

Have you ever tried positive reinforcement for training or behavior modification in your D/s relationship? What was your experience like? Did it work for you? Share with us in the comments below or on Twitter!

A Bit of This and That LB093

Nothing particularly educational this week for episode 93. Think of this as a long bonus section. If that’s not your thing, no worries, we’ll be back to normal in episode 94.

Links from the show:

You Won’t Always Get It Right

Postcard Project

Kayla Lords on Fetlife

John Brownstone on Fetlife

Contact us!

Listen to the show:

iTunes

Google Play

Your favorite podcast app!

You Won’t Always Get It Right

GIF via Giphy

When John Brownstone and I decided that we wanted Loving BDSM to have it’s own home and that we wanted to build our own kinky community, we had a vision for how we thought it would look. Okay, let’s be real – I had a bunch of visions, and he had to rein me in until I picked a more realistic vision. We also had a limited budget and very little time.

Hell, we took a month-long hiatus and still felt rushed at the end.

In developing the website, choosing the systems we would use, and figuring out how this space would work, we did our research. Neither of us consider ourselves noobs when it comes to the internet. You can never rely on one source, one opinion, or one review.

Fast forward to opening day. The podcast is back up and on the air. We’re shocked at the people (plenty of them crickets from the show) signing up and trying to use register, login, and start talking.

I was in the grocery store buying milk when the first emails came through.

“I keep getting an error message when I register.”

“I can’t login.”

“Something’s wrong.”

It took everything I had not to have a panic attack. This grand thing we envisioned was already a dumpster fire (or so my anxiety tried to tell me). Instead, I took a deep breath, went home, did my research, and fixed the problem.

Sigh of relief and a small pat on the back. First problem fixed!

Then, as we started combing through the forums and community, John Brownstone and I both saw a major problem. You couldn’t see anything if you weren’t an administrator. What the hell?!

via Giphy

More research. Little tweaks on the back-end. Some coding stuff that always makes my head hurt.

Problem solved.

Even then, I was nervous about the system we were using. While dozens, possibly hundreds, of reviews were favorable, when people did have problems, help was non-existent. Problems went unexplained. Problems were rare but they were always big, nasty things that took forever to fix. (Not a good sign.)

With shaky nervousness, we proceeded. We’d found fixes and people were able to use the community. Conversations were happening. Kinksters were connecting.

In mid-July, it was time for some updates to the guts of the website. These are things that, if you ignore, can cause security and functionality problems later. John Brownstone, as our unpaid IT guy, was on the job. With no major problems in weeks, I didn’t think much of it.

Until the first email…

“I can’t see anything in the forums. I can see the forums, but not the topics. What gives?”

Fuck. It was the same problem we’d had early on. Which meant I knew of a few possible fixes. Now I was on the job.

None of them worked. Not a single one. The support person (who works for the company we use for the biggest part of our website) couldn’t fix the problem. As of the day this post was published, he’s been working on it for over a week.

via Giphy

We have two choices.

We can throw our hands up in the air, say “Experiment failed!” and give up.

Or we can do more research, find a solution, make necessary changes, and do something different that we hope will work.

If you know us at all, you know we’ve chosen option two. The third option is a given – we also apologize profusely, communicate with members, and own the problems. We didn’t cause them, but they are our responsibility to correct.

So that’s what we’re doing. If you are a registered member of the website, you should have received an email explanation from us today (7/26/17) and if not, check your spam.

But why blog about this? Why put our in-the-weeds tech problems out in the open? Two reasons…

One, we want to be as transparent as possible and talk to as many people as possible. This is just one way of doing so.

Second, this situation isn’t unique to websites, community building, and technology. It’s a metaphor for life.

How many times are we afraid to move forward with something – like a new D/s relationship – because we think we’ll get it wrong? How many times are we afraid to try something new because we think there’s one right way to have a D/s relationship or enjoy kink? How many times – in and out of D/s and kink – do we think a glitch, a setback, or breakdown means that we’ve failed?

It happens to people all the time. We either don’t start for fear of getting it wrong, making a mistake, or failing or we don’t correct a situation for the same reason.

I’m a fairly deliberate person. I rarely jump into anything. Okay, let’s be real, I never jump into anything. But that doesn’t mean I have all the answers once I do begin a new thing.

We have to be willing to stumble, fall on our face, and make mistakes. We also have to be willing to own those mistakes and try to correct them as best we can, especially once we’re presented with new information.

I’m not all Pollyanna-ish about this. A broken relationship can’t be fixed with a simple setting change like a website. An abusive situation can only be “fixed” by getting out, giving up, or walking (or running) away.

But not every situation is that severe. Most of the time what holds us back is fear of being wrong. Fear of messing up. Fear of something not working the way we saw it in our head.

The person might be wrong for you. The dynamic might be wrong for you. The title and honorific might be wrong for you. Those things can all be changed but you’ll never know if you don’t try. You likely won’t end up with the immaculate vision in your head – but you might also find yourself in the best situation, relationship, or moment of your life, too. Sometimes we have to fall flat on our face a few times before we get it right.

via Giphy

Who knew there were life lessons to be learned in website/technology hell? (Pro tip: life lessons can be found anywhere.) Oh, and yes, my anxiety is trying to convince me to run screaming into the night. But the vision in my head and the feedback we get from members and listeners tells me to keep trying.

Cock Rings LB092

We’re out of town this week but through a bit of time travel, we have a brief episode on cock rings.

In this episode:

  • Join 30 Days of D/s for free!
  • This week’s episode inspired by a topic from Molly Moore’s Kink of the Week
  • Cock rings are used in and out of D/s relationships
  • They’re also good for plain old kinky fuckery
  • Cock rings can prolong orgasm and make a penis harder.
  • Contrary to what some people believe (even us until we learned better) cock rings aren’t a “submissive” thing – although they are used in power exchange fuckery
  • Cock rings can be sexy and fun and make sex better
  • John Brownstone’s favorite is the Tyler by Svakom
  • No bonus episode this week but we’ll be back next week!

Links from the show:

30 Days of D/s – Free!

30 Days of D/s Workbook (alternative to email program)

Putting a (Cock) Ring on It

Kink of the Week: Cockrings

Our review of the Tyler by Svakom

Support the show

Postcard Project

Kayla Lords on Fetlife

John Brownstone on Fetlife

Contact us!

Listen to the show:

iTunes

Google Play

Your favorite podcast app!

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