Behavior Modificationis a therapeutic technique based on the work ofB.F. Skinner, a famous psychologist who is known asthe "Father of Behaviorism." Skinner developed atheory of operant conditioning, which states thatall behavior is governed by reinforcing andpunishing stimuli. Behavior modification uses ascheduled approach that rewards desired behaviorand "punishes" undesirable behavior. Thistechnique continues to be used in therapy and isused in many psychological settings.
Behavior modification is a term used in behavioraltherapies to denote methods for conditioningbehavior. It has its roots in classical conditioning,which involves the pairing of a behavior with areinforcement. The main idea is to reward the aperson if they implement a desired behavior or ifthey stop undesired behavior. Behaviormodification can also involve incurring anunpleasant consequence for undesired behavior.Behavior modification is used in a variety ofsituations, ranging from the behaviors of a childin the classroom and at home to the behavior ofadult prison inmates. This conditioning may beimplemented by an authority figure, or it may beused in self-help exercises.
PurposeBehavior modification is used to treat avariety of problems in both adults andchildren. Behavior modification has beensuccessfully used to treatobsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), phobias, enuresis (bed-wetting), generalized anxiety disorder , and
In connection to SPEd- children with ADHD ADHD BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION TECHNIQUESADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, troublesmany children, schools, parents, and families. According tothe National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD is the mostcommon mental disorder in children and adolescents in theUnited States. According to Michael Bloomquist, Directorof the Attention and Behavior Problems Clinic at theUniversity of Minnesota, a child with ADHD oftenstruggles to accumulate the abilities and skills in self-control, social, emotional, and academic areas. Effectivebehavior modification techniques help such a childsucceed.
SignificanceProblems in self-control or attention characterize ADHD.According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3to 5 percent of children qualify for this diagnosis. Moreboys than girls have it, and unlike once thought, thesesymptoms often trickle into adolescence and adulthood.Without adequate intervention, children with problems inself-control are more likely to be rejected by peers, andoften develop academic and emotional problems.According to Bloomquist, a behavior modification planand techniques build mastery and competence, andpromote psychological development and success.
FunctionChildren with ADHD may show emotions without constrainthave difficulty focusing on or completing a task, becomeimpatient, blurt out inappropriate comments, and have troublewaiting their turns. Having the ability to regulate emotions andbehaviors early in life, acquiring good social and academicskills, having supportive parenting and predictable routines andrituals, and being accepted by, and associated with, positive-influence children, remain protective factors for children tosustain socially-acceptable behaviors and adjust easily in life.Bloomquist notes that behavior modification techniques helpaccomplish these goals by enhancing self-control, social,emotional, and academic development, and improving parentwell being and relationships with their children.
TypesBehavior modification techniques for ADHD can reinforcepositive behavior, or punish negative behavior. According toBloomquist, behavior modification techniques teach a childwith ADHD to obey, follow rules, manage anger, developsocial and problem-solving skills, promote positive peeraffiliations, assist in understanding and expressing feelings,think helpful thoughts, encourage appreciation of reading,and increase self-directed academic behaviors. Behaviortechniques in the form of a plan promote a childs selfesteem. Parents should rank and prioritize areas that needthe most attention, and develop a plan focused on thesetargeted behaviors.
ConsiderationsBehavior modification techniques for ADHD require effortand consistency. Bloomquist identifies parent and familywell-being as being crucial to the success of a childsacquisition of self-control. Previous or concurrent familytreatment may enhance the outcome. Adding medicationsto treat ADHD may prove helpful. A Consumer Reportssurvey demonstrated that 67 percent of those tryingmedications for ADHD reported they helped "a lot." Dr.Orly Avitzur, a neurologist and medical advisor to ConsumerReports magazine, indicates that kids improve most with acombination of medication and behavioral modificationtechniques.
SolutionsSpecific strategies exist for various ADHD behaviors. Bloomquistsuggests giving effective commands, using effective warnings, and takingaway a privilege when targeting disobedient behaviors. To reduce angryoutbursts, help the child define anger, teach recognition of anger bodycues, teach and encourage relaxation skills and helpful self-talk. Teachpositive social behaviors, and coach and reward desirable socialbehaviors in social situations. Instruct the child in social problem solvingand use "guided questioning" to help explore possibilities and options forproblem-solving social situations. For emotional well being, help the childidentify and change unhelpful thoughts and demonstrate helpfulthinking. Bloomquist encourages collaboration with the child,assessment of his readiness for the task, staying calm, and beingconsistent. Practicing with daily charts containing up to four targetbehaviors, using non-material reinforcers for desired behavior, and mildpunishment for zero compliance, can enhance performance andeffectively shape targeted behaviors.
Conditioning to Modify BehaviorBehavioral conditioning occurs when a certainbehavior is either rewarded or negativelyreinforced. Note that punishment may be, but doesnot have to be, a reinforcement. Generally, simplerbehaviors are easiest to condition; more complexbehaviors need to be broken down into smallersteps. At every point, the desired behavior must beattainable by the person learning.
CLASSROOM BEHAVIORMODIFICATION STRATEGIES FOR ADHD
Behavior modification techniques shapebehavior through a system of reinforcementand punishment. This type of system can beeffective in helping certain problembehaviors, such as those frequently seen inchildren with ADHD. In behaviormodification strategies, the problembehavior, and the desired behavior thatideally will replace it, must be clearlydefined. Then small steps toward thedesired behavior are rewarded. Lapses inprogress, or regression back to the problembehavior, are not rewarded.
Challenging behaviors in a child with ADHD(attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) includenot listening, arguing and non-compliance. Thesenegative behaviors test parents and stressteachers. Children struggle to completeassignments, finish projects and remember rules.By instituting behavioral interventions forchildren with ADHD, negative behaviorsdecrease and positive behaviors increase. Threebehavioral plan components listed in an article atADDitude, an online magazine dedicated toADD and ADHD, include a focus on theessential, documentation and a commitment tonote and reward improvement.
The symptoms of Attention Deficit HyperactivityDisorder (ADHD) are often treated with stimulantmedication. The Centers for Disease Control(CDC) report that the inattention, hyperactivityand impulsiveness of ADHD can be treated withbehavioral therapy. Dr. P.S. Jensen reported in theFebruary 2001 issue of "Journal of Developmentaland Behavioral Pediatrics" that behavioral therapycombined with medication is the best treatmentfor ADHD. According to the Encyclopedia ofMental Disorders, behavioral modification is aform of behavioral therapy that replacesundesirable behavior with more acceptablebehaviors using positive and negativereinforcement.