Behavior modification refers to establishing appropriate behavior in individuals and discouraging those that are undesirable. Research over the years has led to the formulation of certain techniques that are used for behavior modification.
The modification techniques are largely based on the principles of operant conditioning developed by B. F. Skinner, an American behaviorist. These techniques are used in behavior modification therapy that aim to correct and instill appropriate behavior in children.
Commonly Used Behavior Modification Techniques
Negative reinforcement behavioral strategies are based on the removal of a negative consequence or a behavior because the desired behavior was performed. For example, letting a child not help in washing dishes because he behaved well at a family gathering.
However, when put in words, punishment refers to subjecting an individual to a negative condition because of an inappropriate behavior.
Techniques for Children
The techniques for children are based on positive and negative reinforcement. Parents should realize that these techniques can't be solely relied upon for child behavior modification. Some critics of these techniques give forth the argument that since these are based on reinforcements to foster and inhibit behavior, they rob a child of internal motivation.
They say that a child behaves in a particular manner just to get special rewards. Though the proponents of these techniques point out the fact that using these methods lead to quick results, a parent should continuously try to cultivate in his child the ability to appreciate the reason why such a behavior is expected of him.
This can be done through effective communication and greater focus on the parent-child relationship. This helps the child see beyond the material reward that he gets every time he behaves in the 'right' way. Also, as a parent refrain from making the reward a monetary one. Try to make it look more like a privilege than a reward.
A parent should also be consistent with his technique and apply it whenever there is a chance so that the child gets a clear hint of what is expected and what is not. Although we talk about the role of a parent in bringing positive modification, when it comes to devising behavior modification plans for kids, both parents and teachers are equally important.
Techniques for ADHD
Besides ensuring proper behavior that is normally expected of a child, behavior techniques are used to solve a number of disorders and problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and phobias.
As far as dealing with children with ADHD is concerned, the techniques remain the same but the efforts increase manifold. Along with the efforts of parents and teachers using various behavior modification techniques, cognitive therapies are also used to treat such children.
The behavior modification plans being used vary as per the age of the child. As a child enters his teens, he becomes all the more sensitive to how he is being treated by his parents or teachers in front of others, and they may overreact to frequent disciplining. Here are a few suggestions for parents who want to modify behavior of children affected by ADHD:
- Parents need to understand their own tolerance level. Children with ADHD have low attention span and hence, may take longer to finish a task or may skip it altogether. This can be frustrating for a parent, but instead of losing his patience, a parent should encourage the child to complete it.
There are various modification techniques, and professional help available to encourage proper behavior in children. However, there is nothing that can take the place of proper parenting and an affectionate environment.