What is considered normal behavior varies from culture to culture. It can also vary by the household. When a child’s behavior doesn’t match what we expect it to be or if it disrupts their ability to live a normal life, then parents may want to help change their child’s behavior. This is where child behavior modification comes into play.
What Is Child Behavior Modification?
Some think that behavior modification is a bad term that describes weird or unusual methods to make a child behave properly. Instead it is the simple process of using a number of techniques in order to change a child’s behavior. Those techniques can include: biofeedback, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, or more advanced techniques.
How Do You Use Child Behavior Modification?
Undesirable behavior results from any number of reasons. Behavioral issues and mental health conditions can both cause problematic behavior. While it is not completely necessary to know what is causing problematic behavior, it is often helpful to know. A counselor, therapist, or social worker may be able to recommend specific techniques for you to use.
A lot of techniques for behavior modification in adults and children can be boiled down into three categories, biofeedback, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement. We are going to take a look at each one.
Biofeedback for Child Behavior Modification
Biofeedback is a process in which you train the body and mind to gain control over involuntary actions. In this case, it is training the body to properly modify a child’s behavior. You use a visual or auditory stimulus in order to train a kid to know when they are displaying bad behavior and to correct said behavior.
When a child has a diagnosis such as ADHD or Autism they may not realize when they are misbehaving. This is when biofeedback becomes a good technique. It lets them catch onto the misbehavior and attempt to correct it for themselves.
Positive Feedback for Child Behavior Modification
For a child to know what good behavior is, they need to be rewarded for displaying good behavior. This is the positive feedback category. When your child is good or well-behaved make sure to let them know. Also let them know they did a great job when they catch and correct their own bad behavior.
You don’t want to constantly reward good behavior by buying your kid new toys or spoiling them. Instead, simple positive encouragement can be used when they behave well during everyday activities. That being said, you do want to make sure you proportionately reward extremely good behavior.
Some ideas for good reward choices include: healthy snacks, extra reading time, extra time before bed, or an extra story before bed. Another common reward choice includes points systems where children can earn points towards toys they want or trips to activities.
Negative Feedback for Child Behavior Modification
One of the best things you can do when your child is acting out is to ignore them. As long as your child isn’t hurting anyone and not destroying anything, ignoring them will show that bad behavior does not get rewarded. This is the most common of negative feedback methods.
Any kind of consequences that you use for bad behavior such as timeouts or removal of toys falls under the negative feedback category. Simply put, it is negative consequences for negative behavior.
Providing negative consequences needs to be handled very carefully. You don’t want to step too far or use the wrong consequences. For example, yelling at a child often does not get the message across. It doesn’t often for adults either.
It is also important that a child is able to identify the negative behavior or else the punishment is not associated with said behavior. Make sure to identify the behavior when punishing your child.
Change a child’s bad behavior is not a process that happens overnight. It will involve a good amount of work from you and your child. But that work is very rewarding and can help to improve your child’s life. Often times these techniques are best used in combination with therapy from a professional such as a counselor or social worker.