If you are struggling to get your child to listen and change their behavior no matter how many times you nag, it might be time to think about using one of these simple behavior motivation techniques that work to help transform your child’s behavior to what you would like it to be. This works wonders when you are struggling to help manage anger in kids.
What is Behavior Modification?
Behavior modification is using positive and negative consequences to shape your child’s behavior. When your child makes a good choice your child should be rewarded with positive reinforcement and when your child makes a poor choice then they receive a negative consequence to learn from their behavior and help modify it.
In simple terms, behavior modification means changing your child’s behavior using various techniques to get the desired outcome you want, which is a positive behavior.
This technique is not only used in children but adults as well and can be used for all kinds of situations.
The methods do vary, but most often use positive and negative reinforcement for the desired outcome you would like to see.
How to Use Behavior Modification
There are several key steps to behavior modification. It is adapting your child’s environment so they want to change and make the right choices. To do this you will want to follow these steps.
- Consistency- When we are consistent, kids learn to recognize what they are doing is either positive or negative. For instance, if your child has trouble sharing, each time they share you give them positive praise and attention for this choice. Eventually, this will then become a habit and you can phase out the positive praise on each occasion. The same goes for negative choices. If your child is only placed in time out every 3rd time they throw a temper tantrum they will not learn as effectively. Each time an unwanted behavior happens it needed to have a direct consequence.
- Immediate- When using this technique consequences need to be immediate. The modification is not effective if you have to remind them what happened an hour ago or even yesterday.
- Finding the Right Strategy- Each child is different so you need to find the technique that works best for your child. You might have one child that world well with positive reinforcement whereas another one might only learn through positive punishment. Once you find what works use that strategy to modify behaviors.
- Work as a Team- This strategy of parenting only works when both parents are working together for the greater good, because let’s be honest, it is exhausting to modify behaviors. Not only that the same consequences and the same rewards need to occur when certain things happen. If you a child pees the bed (that is old enough to know better) and one parent makes them clean it up and the other allows them to get into bed and snuggle it will be harder for your child to learn that peeing on the bed is not okay. This goes for several different parenting aspects.
Is Behavior Modification the same for each child?
If you have multiple children you will know that none of them are the same. Therefore you need to adapt your modification strategies for each child. It is not a one size fits all plan. If you try to do this, you will just end up very frustrated as a parent struggling and overwhelmed.
Techniques for Behavior Modification
There are 4 main techniques most used to help modify behaviors.
1. Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is one of the best modifications for behavior that parents can use on kids. Kids want to make their parents happy and when you use this modification strategy your kids can see that they are making a good choice as you verbally praise them, give them more opportunities to do things, or even spend more time with them.
Some positive Reinforcements can include:
- If your kids eat all their dinner they might be rewarded with a great job eating and a bowl of ice cream for dessert.
- Playing a game together after finishing their homework.
- Giving a hug when they share with a friend.
- Letting your teenager have an extra hour of screentime because they finished their homework on time and have no missing assignments at school.
2. Negative Reinforcement
Negative reinforcement is used to teach kids (or yourself) to avoid making a choice because of the negative punishment of that choice. Usually, this involves taking something away, withholding praise, or not allowing them to have the freedoms that they had before, perhaps even yelling. Since the child doesn’t want any of these things to occur, they quickly want to rectify their behavior.
Some negative reinforcement can include:
- Making a child do homework doing recess because they forgot to do it at home.
- Having to go to bed early because they are throwing a temper tantrum.
- Or not being able to see friends for a week after staying out too late the last time you got together.
- A teenager complains we are eating pasta again for dinner, so they are assigned to cook dinner the next night.
- Parents yell because you forgot to turn in your assignment, you turn in your assignment to end the yelling.
3. Positive Punishment
Positive punishment encourages negative behaviors to stop by adding a punishment on top of the child’s normal activities or responsibilities. Although it might sound confusing, you are basically using a natural consequence that the child will have to do because of the negative behavior.
Some positive punishment examples are:
- Your teenager has not cleaned his room. You explain that keeping your room clean is your responsibility. You then give him another room to clean as well as his own so he can “Practice cleaning”
- You have a leave no trace policy at the table. Meaning each person is responsible for clearing their spot and making it look like they did not eat there. Your child forgets so they get to come clean their spot and do all the dishes or clean the kitchen.
- You hear your child using words that you don’t say. You let them write multiple sentences reminding them that we don’t talk that way.
4. Negative Punishment
Negative punishment is pretty much exactly how it sounds. Negatively punishing for a behavior. Usually, this is done by taking things away from the child.
Some examples of negative punishment include:
- Your toddler forgets to put his toys away after being asked. The toys they don’t put away are taken away for a certain amount of time to remind them to pick up.
- Your highschooler talks back to you so you remove all electronics from their room that they love.
- Your kids forget to do their homework so they lose screentime the next day.
Behavior modification is an effective strategy to help shape your kids to learn to make positive choices each and every day. What do you like best about these strategies? Share in the comments?
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