Reinforce Positive Behavior Through Choice

June 18, 2012
A smiling man talking to a student in his office.

When you look at a child through a child-centered lens, what do you see?

Children with special needs often express challenging behavior, and we’re just as often caught up in what we see on the surface, focusing on stopping the disruption before it goes any further. Yet in order to address negative behavior, we first need to look at it from the child’s point of view—and understand why it occurs.

In “Changing Challenging Behavior,” Paul Holland details five main reasons why people behave in disruptive or difficult ways, and how “[b]ehaviour does not exist in a vacuum; it sits within a three part contingency whereby behaviours are triggered by antecedents and are maintained by consequences.”

When we take the time to figure out what causes the behavior and what the child hopes to achieve from it, adding in the child’s likes and dislikes that we’ve observed, we can then focus on offering positive reinforcement choices the child will accept. This approach guides kids toward understanding which behaviors are appropriate, and helps them achieve success.

Learn about child-centered functional behavioral assessments and get examples of positive reinforcement techniques here.

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