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Behavior Modification Techniques for Children

Bidisha Mukherjee Sep 29, 2018
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 and negative reinforcement are widely used techniques for child behavior modification. In positive reinforcement, the child is encouraged to maintain certain behaviors and if he 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.


Children with ADHD exhibit hyperactivity, attention problems. So, they need special care. Talk to the child clearly about the behavior you expect and let them know the behaviors that you don't like. Prepare a daily routine and set a time limit for daily tasks.
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.

In the Classroom

Various modification techniques when applied in a classroom work more effectively. 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.
There are 3 cards that are usually assigned by the teacher to each child;  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. Because, it is through communication only that you will understand the deeper problems that hide behind a bad behavior. Teachers should interact with parents 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.