What Terms We Need To Understand When Changing Teen’s Behaviors_Part II

To Review, there are three contingencies of reinforcers; immediacy,
consistency and constancy. These are the aspects of reinforcers that
create change. I’ve related all of them to increasing positive behaviors
by applying the contingencies to each behavior you want to increase.
The same arrangement works to decrease negative behaviors, if the
contingencies are applied using punishments. Immediacy means applying
punishment after a behavior, right away, not in five minutes. It will
decrease the frequency and intensity of the behavior. Consistency works
on decreasing negative behaviors by following them with a punishment,
in this case every time, not every other time. And, constancy also
applies to punishments, just like immediacy and consistency. You apply
the same kind of punishment each time to decrease behaviors. But at
this point I’m not focusing on punishments–on purpose. Keep reading.
Another term is Shaping. This is when you reward a behavior that
is sort of close to what you want, just not all the way there. If I
want a pigeon to learn to do pirouettes, I’ll start by giving it food
when it makes only left turns, which pigeons randomly do. It doesn’t
get anything for right turns. Pretty soon, the pigeon is turning just
left and not long after has made a complete turn, or circle to the
left–a pirouette! I shaped it into making a complete turn by rewarding
just one (small) behavior that ultimately led to a complete turn.
I didn’t worry about the final behavior–just the little steps that were in the correct direction.
Another term is Extinction. It doesn’t mean a species died out.
It simply means a behavior went away. If a behavior stops occurring,
it is said to have become extinct (stopped). This happens all the time.
How many behaviors do you not do anymore? If you are an adult, you
probably no longer stuff things under your mattress (like kids do when
they don’t want to take the time to clean up their rooms). If you still
do that, then your spouse is probably the one reading this e-book and will
apply these techniques to you. In the past, did you yell at your friends
but later learn to talk quietly? Good. Yelling became extinct. You want to make extinct some of the behaviors in your teenager or else you wouldn’t be reading this article. People grow and change. Old behaviors yield to new ones. You get the idea.
Another term is Modeling. This is when you show off good behaviors,
hoping others will copy you. At the dinner table, you use your silverware
to eat, not your hands. Right? Your teens will (sooner or later) do the same, partly because you do, partly because you praise them after they
finally pick up a fork (positive reinforcer, in this case using shaping).
Another example is driving the speed limit–a good behavior to model,
especially when teenagers first get behind the wheel. Getting a driver’s
license later is a good, though it is a delayed positive reinforcement.
A subset of modeling is Cueing. That just means you provide a hint
that something is coming, good or bad, and that usually stops the teen long enough to think first, then behave. You are prompting your teenager that other, better behavior should follow, which resembles modeling. It’s just not as formal as modeling. For example, your teen starts to reach for food with his hands (vs. using silverware). You clear your throat loudly while raising your eyebrows and looking at the silverware. He or she gets the idea even though you are not yet eating with silverware (which would be modeling, formally).
–Dr. Griggs
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