Behavior Modification Techniques for Children

Behavior Modification Techniques for Children

Behavior modification techniques are helpful in addressing the issues related to the overall behavior of a child. Learn more about these techniques from this article.
Adults have a tendency to assume that children behave badly when they want to gain some attention from their elders. However, it may not be as simple as that. Quite often, children cannot express their feelings properly and out of confusion they may end up with a bad behavior. There are various modification techniques that enable the child to practice positive behavior. It has been found that such techniques are also effective in treating other problems like phobias, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), etc in children.

Behavior Modification Techniques

At Home
Positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement are the two of the most widely used techniques applied on children, for the purpose of child behavior modification. In positive reinforcement, the child is encouraged to maintain certain behaviors and if he/she successfully does so, it is suitably rewarded. For instance, if your child finishes bath on time or keep toys in place, then give a hug or a pat on back for encouragement. In negative reinforcement, the child is discouraged to behave in negative manner by giving some form of punishment. It could be an unpleasant reaction shown by the adult for a problematic behavior by the child. Take for example, the child is not allowed to watch television as he/she has disobeyed the instructions given by the parents. Another behavior modification technique is elimination, where the child does not get the likely response, that one expects from the elders. Like, if the child is not behaving well, he or she is deprived of parental attention that the child is keen to get.

For ADHD
Children with ADHD often exhibit hyperactivity as well as attention problems. Therefore, they need special care. Talk to the child clearly about the kind of behavior that you expect from him or her and also let them know about those behaviors that you do not like. Prepare a daily routine for these children. Set a time limit within which they should finish bathing or the playtime or the time for watching television or other daily tasks. Tell them that they will be rewarded appropriately if they complete the task within that time limit. You can provide them with a timer for their help. Give suitable reward when they complete a task on time. Involving them more and more in constructive activities like reading, puzzle solving, games, etc. to bring about positive changes in their behavior. You can also take part in them along with the children. When you are punishing the child for a negative behavior, it should be given immediately after the wrong behavior. This way children can understand that every time the consequence of that particular behavior will be a punishment.

In the Classroom
Various modification techniques when applied in a classroom work more effectively. This is because, most small children have a natural tendency to abide by the rules of the teachers in the classroom. Giving out colored cards is a positive reinforcement technique, that is applicable for behavior modification. There are three cards that are usually assigned by the teacher to each child of the class. They are: red, yellow and green. The day starts with a green card for everyone. In case of problems in the behavior, the color of the card changes. The day a child receives a warning, the green card is replaced by a yellow one and for serious offenses like hurting someone, a red card is given. When the color of the card changes notes are sent to parents. On the other hand, If a child continues to get green card consistently all through the week, he gets a treasure box.

Similarly, a chart system can be implemented. Each child of the class is given a chart and is asked to color it with a particular color depending on his or her behavior for the day. Depending on the consistency of good behavior, the child is awarded with points or prizes. These measures are taken very seriously by most children. They feel highly motivated to behave properly, so that they can gain some points and promptly learn good behavior. Sometimes, the child becomes so motivated that the child readily complies with the rules, even without an expectation of any prizes or rewards. Good communication with the student is also a very important and effective behavior modification technique. This is because, it is through communication only that you will be able to understand the deeper problems that hide behind a bad behavior. Teachers should interact with the parents of the child regularly so that they can have a better knowledge about the child's behavior at home.

Behavior modification techniques when applied by parents or teachers, replace the undesirable behaviors with preferred ones. During this time, it is also very important to let the child know whether he or she is improving or are failing to meet the expectations. Keep reminding them that they have the capability to bring about changes in their behavior. Be very encouraging to the child when he or she behaves positively. Praise the child generously and reward him/her as and when required. This kind of response makes the children highly enthusiastic and they become willing to change their behavior.