- Reinforcement is anything that makes a behavior increase. It isn’t what it sounds like!! We think of saying “good job” as a reinforcement. But…putting a tantruming toddler on your lap to get them to stop crying so you can finish story time will likely make that behavior increase so….it is also a reinforcement.
- What do you do? Take a look at your behavior for a child who is having a difficult time. What are you doing that is keeping behaviors going? What are the things you are doing to help keep on target behaviors going? (praising, hugs, smiles) what might you be doing to keep more negative behaviors going? (giving attention to the behaviors, giving in…) be honest now. How can you start to change what you are doing to help get a better handle on this? Helps the child, helps the class, helps the parents, helps you
Differential Reinforcement (Catch em being good)
- This is kind of related to reinforcement. What to do instead of paying attention to the child who is trying to get attention by more acting out behavior? Look at a child who is doing what you want the other child to do and start praising them and saying specifically what you like about what they are doing.
- This one always make me laugh! When adults tell me how they are ignoring the child, it isn’t ignoring! Adults are walking away, debating with the child who is crying and following them. That isn’t ignoring…it is arguing while looking backwards.
- The right way to ignore isn’t ignoring at all….it is actually close to getting an award as Best Actor. You need to calmly tell a child that you will keep talking to them as soon as they can calm down/talk in a quiet voice, etc. You then keep watching them closely out of your peripheral vision (out of the corner of your eye) while you are pretending to do something else (read a book, look at your hands, doesn’t matter what). What is important is that you don’t “take the bait” to keep giving the child your attention for their problem behavior. When they are finally able to stop the behavior that you were ignoring, you immediately praise them for doing what you asked. Then you just keep going as if nothing happened.
- It is hard to do but it works!
Why do behavior plans stop working?
- Why do diet’s stop working? Why do plans to stop smoking stop working? Because we stop following the plan. For most children, the reason behavior plans stop working is because everyone grows tired of doing them. Parents forget; kids forget. It just slows to a stop.
- Unfortunately, most behavior plans last about 2 weeks if they are too complicated. Keep it simple and when you see its effectiveness weakening, stop and figure out who is not following the plan. Either then get back on it, or figure out a new version of the same thing that was working. Example: if it became too time consuming to praise all day, just try attending and praise during those times of the day when a child is having more difficulty and needs more support.