Behavior Modification, Does it Work?

The evidence seems to say yes, depending on what type of behavior you are looking to curb and if it is done correctly and consistently. Behavior Modification is a psychological principal that has its root in what was once known as “conditioning”. As a parenting technique behavior modification basically is the idea of rewarding desired behaviors along with appropriate and proportionate punishment of negative behavior.

Experts agree that a chart system works best for young children. You can create a chart of your own or there are several that are printable on the Web. Make a list of desirable behaviors such as listening, honesty, cooperation – and each time the child exhibits one of these traits reward them with a sticker next to that trait. You can use a sticker of favorite characters, or assign point values to different color stickers. The important thing is to be consistent and to immediately reward the good behavior. It is that immediate recognition of “doing the right thing” that has the most positive effect on a child.

Behavior modification can work with older children, even teens, but of course it is a little more challenging. Instead of a chart develop some very concrete rewards for the child to earn such as having a friend sleep over, letting he or she choose to watch an hour of their favorite TV programs, an extra hour of computer time, or an extended curfew. Your goal with this approach will be to show them that you get more if you give more. Like it or not, this is how the world works and they must learn how to manage themselves.

In any event professionals agree that with a proper plan, patience and loyalty to your program behavior modification can be a valuable tool for parents of children almost any age.

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