Parents should realize that nothing is "free" in life and this attitude will help them to be more consistant with reinforcement.
One of the biggest obstacles to teaching your child is realizing that things in life are not free. Parents or Caregivers will be more likely to reinforce once they accept this basic principle of reinforcement. Reinforcers need to delivered consistently. If your child does do something good then this good behavior should definitely be rewarded. In contrast, if the child is inappropriate then he should not be rewarded. The first step is to try to reward any behavior that is positive. For example, if the child cleans his room or eats his breakfast be sure to reinforce your child. Secondly, when your child cries or tantrums try not to reinforce your child. For example, the most common behavior is for parents to pick up and hug a child when he cries. In contrast, the parent should realize that this would be giving a reinforcer for free. The child has not performed any appropriate behavior yet he is reinforced. We all work to get money for food and things that we want. We know that we will probably loose our job over time or not get commissions if we do not work. Consistent reinforcement of behavior will lead to rapid learning and appropriate behavior.
Feedback is a useful tool to use when working with children or adults with autism or developmental delays.
Feedback is a useful therapeutic technique to use when working with people with autism or developmental delays as well as normal children or adults. Feedback has effectively improved behavior according to research articles in a wide variety of targeted behavior problems. This technique can be applied with the following types of problems and in many other creative ways.
A child or adult with weigh control issues might use a diary for food intake, weight, water intake too. This can be useful to review with them to assure they are eating the right things, drinking enough water and reducing their weight. The feedback provides useful information to the person and changes in habits can be made with the therapist based on the information recorded. A journal or calendar is useful for this.
Recording sleep times each night can provide useful information for treating sleep problems. The therapist can provide a data sheet, diary or calendar to record the sleep patterns. The information gathered in written form can be discussed and changes can be made based on this important feedback regarding sleep patterns. For example, if week-ends are particularly low in number of hours slept then the therapist might suggest going to sleep earlier, listening to a sound machine or music to relax before bedtime.
Recording general mood with a happiness scale or in a journal can provide useful information for behavior change. For example, if the person is upset frequently then adding some more reinforcing activities may change the behavior.
Generally, any data collection can be used as feedback to the individual or parent in designing and changing procedures in the program and informal procedures.
How to use electronics as a reinforcer without causing increase in tantrums or other behavior problems with autistic, aggressive and other childhood behavior problems or developental delays?
Computers and electronic devices have become very powerful reinforcers for many children in the past few years. Parents and Caregivers can use the following methods to more effectively and without behavior problems such as tantrums.
1. First thing the caregiver should do is select the reinforcers specificlally through asking the child or an inventory which identifies the most powerful electronic reinforcers.
2. Next the caregiver or parent should explain specifically to the child what he has to do to attain the reinforcer. For example, the parent might say if you do your chores, have no tantrums or screaming, get ready for school on time then you can use the iphone that day.
3. Next once a behavior occurs he/ she will not gain access to the reinforcer the next day or longer as specified by the parent or guardian. This should be a definite rule regarding how many days or hours of good behavior are required to attain the electronic and how many days he/she must have good behavior in order to attain the reinforcer for a specified amount of time.
4. If the child resists giving up the computer or phone there are environmental ways of preventing the use of them without a struggle. One way is to put the phone away once they go to sleep if there was a tantrum that day. Secondly, the keyboard or mouse can be put away in a locked reinforcer cabinet if there is a tantrum and the reinforcer is the computer. Another technique is to remove the battery from a device, turn off the fuse box.
5. Parents might consider adding a password that can be turned on and off on a electronic device or computer.
6. Parents should consider turn off a television with the remote or if there is a parental lock or timer this can be useful in making sure the reinforcer is delivered consistently.
7. Parents should try to give the child at least one or two warning statements so that the child is prepared and realizes that he has not behaved appropriately.
8. Finally it is important to make sure that the parent states the rule as a house rule and not as something mean imposed on the child. Also, the parent should state something empathetic such as " I wish you could have earned the phone or computer today that is too bad I am so sorry about that. Maybe you will earn it tommarow."
9. In order to prevent a tantrum parents should include the time from the loss of the item to the time it will be earned as a criteria for earning the reinforcer again. For example, if you are good and do all your chores and no tantrums or screaming you will probably be able to earn computer time tommarow.
In general, the parent should be viewed as a sort of Santa Clause or bearer of gifts for the child not an negative person that enforces the contingency. This attitude of the parent will lead to a more postive relationship with the parent, less arguments and behavior problems in the future!:)