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So far Jennifer Smit has created 58 blog entries.
Change is inevitable...

Understand the Background of Immediate Reward Now

By | October 14th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

Today I want to talk about the importance of rewarding positive behavior in a timely manner when utilizing a positive reinforcement model. There are many reasons why this is important. The first being to understand the effort that you and your family are putting forth is worth seeing through to completion. A positive reinforcement model includes laying clear boundaries, recognizing progress and rewarding good behaviors. In our busy lives, it is understandable to feel relief when things are running smoothly, but the fact is if you want to see them running smoothly for the long term then that behavior deserves and needs to be rewarded.

Another reason to reward as soon as possible is that you want to make sure that your child associates the reward with the positive behavior that he or she performed. If too much time goes by then the impact is not as great and they may not feel the fulfillment of a job well done. Imagine getting a paycheck late or receiving gratitude for a labor-intensive meal long after it was eaten. You accept the payment and the appreciation but the immediate recognition of your hard work either in a job or at home is much more fulfilling.

How many times have you promised something to your kids only to let time get the better of you and either forget or procrastinate? It happens to the best of us but it is one of the worst things you can do when utilizing a positive reinforcement model. One way that kids will not respond to rewards is by learning that they are empty incentives. Why put forth the effort to support a household that does not follow through with a promise after a job is well done. It teaches indifference and supports poor motivation.

Think about why positive reinforcement is such a powerful tool. Children constantly want attention or prizes that are before them. You are giving them the opportunity to earn them. Keep that positive energy going in the right direction! Reward, acknowledge, and celebrate your children’s positive behavior and you can trust that it will be repeated.

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9 Life Changing Tips for Your Child to Express Their Emotions

By | October 4th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , |

Feelings are typically difficult for a child to understand. When you ask a child how they feel they will often refer to the event that caused the stir of emotions. Rather than say, “I’m angry” a child will exclaim, ”Johnny won’t let me have a turn.”   It is important to identify one’s emotions. All the more reason for parents to make sure that they are allowing their child to have and to experience their emotions as they occur.   

As parents, we often work as problem solvers for our children making sure that they keep the status quo.   That usually means that we like to see them happy. So when our child comes home from school angry with his teacher, we make him feel better by talking about how smart he is. Perhaps they feel sad about a lost relationship so we remind them about their other relationships. The problem is that we are stifling his ability to experience his own emotions and problem solve his own life experiences. What can result is a child that looks to others for their emotional needs to be met.   

There are a few things that you can do as a parent to help your children experience his feelings.   

  1. Be prepared with a list of emotions with explanations or drawings that describe what the feeling means. This isn’t just for the little guys. When we have strong emotions it can be difficult to associate a specific emotion to the event. Especially when there are feelings of sadness and anger combined.
  2. Come up with a sentence that you can use as a family. An example is…I feel angry when Johnny won’t give me a turn because I love to jump rope.  The sentence states the emotion, briefly describes the event and explains why it caused the emotion.
  3. Allow your child to have their own emotions. Your child needs to experience the feeling that he identifies and how to identify them. 
  4. Don’t pass judgment on your child’s emotion no matter how difficult that may seem at the time. Feelings are natural and the ability to express them appropriately is a gift.
  5. Set appropriate boundaries. Remind your child that you will not judge his feelings but his behavior is a different matter. It is ok to be angry, but the actions that are a result of that anger may not be.   
  6. Don’t be afraid of your child’s feelings. Help them to explore what the emotions do to both emotionally and physically.
  7. Ask probing questions to help your children understand their experience.
  8. Help your child to brainstorm ways to manage their emotions and be there to support them as they follow through with their plan. Give them the space to learn.
  9. Lead by example. Remember that your child learns the most by watching you.

Take a moment to explore your own experience with emotions and remember what a confusing time it is for your child. I, for one, don’t know if we ever quite master them. But, if you follow the guidelines above you will be on the road to allowing your child to have the kind of emotional maturity that will serve him well as he continues to age.

For more helpful information please come and visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. We offer parenting support, a behavior modification program as well as other much more. 

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Breakthrough’s Vlinder: Making it Look Like a Piece of Cake

By | October 2nd, 2018|Tags: , , , , , |

Vlinder is a set of tools that help parents create structure and modify behavior in a game-like kit.

Game pieces include: a personalized task sheet, over 100 reward cards, and a stamp pen

Game pieces include: a personalized task sheet, over 100 reward cards, and a stamp pen

Vlinder provides you with all of the “game pieces” you need to set up a positive reinforcement system with your children. It encourages responsibility by tracking your child’s tasks to completion and offers them the opportunity to earn rewards by “drawing cards” when they reach certain goals.

Responsibilities are not limited to chores around the house, but also include nurturing relationships in the household and community. It also fosters family team-building and communication.

Each child gets Task Sheets to track their responsibility progress. Task Sheets include: 1) morning responsibilities,2) a space for goal setting and tallying daily rewards, 3) a full description of each responsibility and how to earn rewards, and 4) blank spaces to personalize the tasks.

Task sheets can also be completely personalized online using a fun, innovative, and interactive tool on the Vlinder website.

By completing tasks your children will earn stamps, helping make their way toward drawing Reward Cards!

Reward Cards provide the incentive and motivation for your child to follow through with the responsibilities.

When your kids earn enough stamps, they can “cash them in” by drawing Reward Cards. In the game, there are Reward Cards provided for smaller rewards, larger rewards, money rewards, and Bummer Cards.

Bummer Cards provide extra incentive to motivate your kiddos to complete tasks so they can earn more opportunities to draw cards!

Parents, you will find that Vlinder improves communication in your families by encouraging your children to participate actively with you and each other throughout the game.

Kids will be proud of the progress they make and the independence that comes with it! You will be delighted when their behavior improves and more teamwork is happening in your home!

Breakthrough’s Vlinder can be found at www.ourbreakthroughs.com/shop/

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How Wearing Different Hats Can Help Your Negative Self-Talk

By | September 25th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Pessimism is not your friend. It does not have to be your enemy. Have you ever heard the phrase, “if you don’t know its broke you can’t fix it?” Part of being in charge of your life is learning how to listen to your self-talk, and TALK BACK!
It sounds a little crazy. I’ve just asked you to talk to yourself, which doesn’t always have the greatest social response. I’m asking you to do it mindfully, not on autopilot.  When you are having one of those days that the world has turned against you and you find yourself missing old coping strategies…use this time to benefit you.
Take our your faithful journal and start writing what it is that you say to yourself in these times of dread. How do people support you or not. How is your career? Your home life? Your health? Your sex life?  Don’t censor yourself and certainly don’t worry about being grammatically correct. That would just piss you off! At some point when your pen stops moving so fast…because I’m sure it could go on for days…take a breath and try and put on a “hat”. 
First of all, you have already helped yourself by writing some of this jumbled negativity down. Its a mess living in that head of yours, with what you put yourself through. If this is all you can do today put the journal down and know you are not done!
The therapeutic side of the lesson is well underway…writing your woes. I stated at the beginning I wanted you to take back charge. Learn! To do that pick one of your phrases and respond to it. It isn’t always easy, especially if you are feeling sarcastic. So take one phrase and force yourself to look at it and answer it with three different “hats”.
Hat 1: The child. Without justification, explain the thought to a child. Perhaps to yourself as a child. For the purpose of this exercise assume that you care about this child and you never want them to feel the same way. What can they do? Write down whatever comes up for you. This self-reflection is what the exercise is about.
Hat 2: The lover. I would wager that your most intimate partner has heard most of your negative talk, and perhaps of the remorse that follows. Write it down. Our partners have a way of helping us build our thickest walls of protection so as not to be hurt…but they also have a way of melting them down and getting to what’s real.
Hat 3: Your ideal self. Be honest…how many times have you caught yourself talking shit and yelled, SHUT-UP? You know the harm. Your inner-most self or ideal self is in there thinking what the heck is he doing with all this potential! How do you answer to yourself for your negative thought? Don’t just write down your confirming thoughts…I want to know the thoughts that you are trying to crush out. (read that part again!) In between your thoughts, there’s this little voice that’s saying there’s hope. I want you to write down more about what’s being said between the lines, as it were.
At the end of the day, you get to choose what to do with this information. The more you do this exercise…the less jumbled the negative self-talk becomes and the abler you are to call upon what you need to hear to push forward. The goal is to be successful!

 

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Some Effective Tricks to Say Good Bye to Legos

By | September 8th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , |

When is it time to say goodbye to legos? My sons haven’t played with them in years, they are gathering dust on their shelf and they desperately need the space, and yet I find myself asking again when do we box them up and put them away? I’ve been researching this topic for some time. Projects to do with old lego sets. Revamping old lego sets. Setting up your lego set. Restoring your lego sets, donating, and storing. In this time I realize that I’m putting forth this effort because I’m having a difficult time letting go of a “phase” my children went through. Plus…it has been replaced by the video game phase…and I see no end in sight.
 
The lego phase was fun and creative. It was interactive and required patience and thought. In the end, there was pride in a job well done. There is a large difference between that and now that they have discovered video games. Video games are isolating and often thoughtless. Progress is achieved with a skill that is acquired over time. The time that is spent away from friends and family. Although I limit my children’s video time, I compare it with lego time and miss it greatly. Because video time has to be controlled it often involves arguments and tears. Lego time was endless hours on the floor putting together battleships, dragons, and superhero space stations. The only tears were of frustration when tiny pieces couldn’t be found
 
This is more than saying goodbye to legos and re-structuring family life to involve some independent play time. There have been a lot of phases that I have not given the same thought. Kids grow up so fast. I’ve heard that phrase a lot but today it holds new meaning. Although I don’t find it necessary to eliminate all electronic use in our home, I do have a call for action. I call for more time playing games on the floor, at the table, in the garage…wherever there is space! There is no use crying about the end of a phase if you aren’t going to do something about it! Replace it with something fulfilling. I’m missing the time spent with my children. Done! And as far as my initial question…I guess I’m going to box them up today.
 
Some simple steps:
 
  1. Don’t forget to ask your child – Believe it or not, I started the process of deciding when to store their legos months before asking them. I finally built up the courage and was surprised when my oldest was already on board.
 
  1. Have a plan in mind if your child is resistant. For my younger two we are planning on keeping two or three of their favorites.
 
  1. Decide how to store and stay consistent. Keep them in their sets or color code. Either way, make sure that you keep them in airtight containers. If you are going to go through the process to store them make sure they are usable after you open them again. 
 
  1. There are plenty of projects to do with mix-matched sets. Research books, websites, etc for ideas if you are not ready to store your legos.
 
Breakthrough is a path to many useful parenting tips. Come to visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com
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5 Mind Numbing Steps for Kids Craving Structure

By | September 2nd, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Children crave structure. They appreciate knowing the rules and how far they can push. It is one of the reasons for learning how to set rules is important. Learning how to set boundaries can be difficult which is especially true when it comes to children; we want them to have more than we did. A parent told me “our generation has ruined it”. We get our kids what they want when they want it. When it comes time to give a gift there is little from which to choose. It is time to set some boundaries! Let’s look at five steps for setting boundaries:

  1. Discover why you are setting a boundary. It is important to have a good understanding of the problem before trying to brainstorm solutions. You may miss your target altogether. 
  2. Explore and identify different solutions to the problem. Depending on your need, come up with as many solutions as possible and generate a list. There are no dumb ideas. Sometimes the whackiest idea (or ideas in combination) make a fun and appropriate solution.
  3. Choose the idea you will use. Don’t be afraid to combine lots of different ideas in setting your boundary. If your “problem” is that your child pesters you for treats at the grocery store, then some ideas might be: avoid taking your child to the store or allow them to accompany you but have them choose to spend their own money.  This combination of options easily becomes: don’t take your child to the store unless he is willing to spend his own money.  Important: Don’t throw away the list just yet. You will probably want to revisit some of your ideas later!
  4. Implement your solution. Using the example above, take your child shopping.  This may appear easier than it is. Make sure to be prepared to allow him to spend his own money. Allow him time to pick the one thing that he can afford. Stick to your guns. Consistency is key.
  5. Evaluate. If your child has stopped pestering you in the store, it appears that your job is done! Congratulations! If, however, they pick their item and begin pestering for more, then make sure you have allowed enough time to implement your solution.  You may need another trip to the store.  If that doesn’t work, then it is time to start from square one and make sure you have identified the right problem. Revisit your solutions and put another one into effect. This can be a long process. The important thing is being consistent once you set a boundary so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.

You may find that you have to go through the steps several times before you get the result that you want. The point to remember is that your child will be better for understanding the boundaries that you are setting.  The time you have together to visit, plan and perhaps the dream will be priceless. 

  For more helpful tips on positive reinforcement and tools to help implement them in your home please visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com

Behavior management games are a fun way to get started. Check out Vlinder on our website. It’s quick and the kids love it!

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How to Discipline Your Child – Punishment isn’t the Way

By | February 23rd, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

by Amy Mc Creedy

original article can be located on http://bit.ly/positiveparentingsolutions

We want our children to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. So the natural thought is to send them to the “time out” corner or up to their room to “think about what they’ve done.” Except they don’t. And they’re likely to keep up the same behaviors despite the punishment. So, how do you know how to discipline your child?

Often, we equate the term “discipline” with punishment. But the word “discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplina,” which means “teaching, learning.” That’s the key to correcting our kids’ behaviors – giving them the tools they need to learn a better behavior. When we discipline in a way meant only to punish and have the child “pay” for their mistake, it doesn’t help our child learn how to make the right choice next time. No one likes being ordered around – punishment can lead to power struggles, and because our kids know this poor behavior gets them attention, they’ll keep doing it.

When it comes to knowing how to discipline your child, we can focus on three key areas: giving them the positive attention they need and crave, taking time for training, and setting limits and sticking to them.

1. Fill the Attention Basket

Kids need attention, plain and simple. If we don’t keep that “attention basket” full of positive attention, kids will seek out any attention they can get – even negative attention. They’ll push our buttons with negative behaviors because to a kid, even negative attention is better than no attention at all. This doesn’t mean you have to be at your child’s side 24-7 – just taking a few minutes a day to spend one-on-one with your child, distraction-free and doing something they want to do, will reap immense rewards in their behavior.

Take 10 minutes once or twice a day with each child playing a game they’ve picked or reading their favorite book. Let the phone ring. Stick the cell phone in the closet. When you fill your children’s attention baskets positively and proactively, your kids will become more cooperative and less likely to seek out attention in negative ways. Life is busy for everyone, and finding extra time in the day may be daunting at first, but think of this as an investment in your relationship with your children and in improving their behavior. When it comes to knowing how to discipline your child, giving them what they need to avoid poor behaviors in the first place can have a great impact.

2. Take Time for Training

As you think about how to discipline your child, it’s important to remember that the word discipline is rooted in meanings of learning and teaching. The best way to discipline your child is to help her make better choices. You can role play the behaviors, using a calm voice. “I’d really like to play with that tractor when you’re done.” “I’d like a snack, please.” Switch roles and pretend you’re the child, and let your little one direct you through making better choices. Be encouraging when they do make the right choices. “I see you worked hard to clean up the playroom all on your own! That’s such a big help. I really appreciate it.” “Thank you for sharing the book with your brother. How kind!”

3. Set Limits and Stick to Them

Kids thrive when they have structure and know their boundaries. Don’t go overboard with hundreds of rules, but focus on what’s most important for your family. Be clear about the ground rules and what happens when someone breaks the rules – make sure that everyone understands the consequences ahead of time and that the discipline is related to the misbehavior. If they forget to put away their dishes after dinner, they have to load and unload the dishwasher. Cleaning their room because they didn’t do their homework isn’t related. Most importantly, be consistent. Follow through every time with the agreed-upon consequence when kids push the rules.

Overall, remember that knowing how to discipline your child is rooted in helping them learn how to make the right choice, not punishment. Be firm and give them the attention, rules, and boundaries they need.

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Helpful Hints of Healing

By | February 9th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We all haven’t faced the easiest of lives. Unfortunately along for the ride are our little ones. As much as we try to protect them, their experience is undeniably different from that of their friends. It isn’t your fault. You might be able to look back and see things you could have done better, but isn’t that true of everyone? You do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt. As a result, your child may start to display some poor coping strategies and behaviors. There are positive methods that you can do that support your child.

The first step is Acceptance. Accept the idea that your child is acting out because they are getting attention. This is true for many if not most people. During times of trauma, it is easy to overlook everyday events. Traumatic experiences take precedence and events like growing up get overlooked. The need for attention is a result. For some people, this may only go on for a short time and long-term behaviors never emerge. For the child who experienced traumatic events over a longer period of time, they may have started to accept the role that is assigned by adults and peers, i.e., troublemaker, class clown, bully…, etc. 

The second step is to be Available. Now its time for the parent(s) to be available and figure out what activities to do together. It could be something as simple as a card game or making dinner together. Don’t just try to be part of their lives…let them be part of yours. I’m not under any assumption that life has changed for you so dramatically that your calendar has opened up. As your child ages, they are more interested in what you do with your time. Things that you wouldn’t think of might appeal to them, i.e., the gym, your friends, your work. The trip to the grocery store could include a quick stop at the ice cream parlor. A long wait at the DMV could be a chance for them to show you their favorite YouTube video. The point is you have to make time even if it overlaps with your busy day.

The third step is Identity. You can’t shake a role assignment that your child has taken on, it is now part of their identity. However, you can add extracurricular activities to their agenda to help them discover different facets of who they are. Provide them with different groups to support a different role opportunity. Leave leaflets around the house and see which one sparks their interest. No point in pressuring them. Try to make it their idea. Some ideas are art, photography, sports, volunteering, coding, dance…, etc. Your child shouldn’t get the idea that you don’t like their identity or that you want to change them.  Remember these steps are taking care to help your relationship and grow as parent and child. Change is inevitable. 

The fourth step is Reward. Communicate with your child and discover some trouble areas. Identify them and write down positive alternatives to replace negative behaviors. Reward when they are completed. Best to identify the poor coping strategies that have been used such as yelling, hitting, ignoring, slamming, lying…, etc. If your child has experienced a lot of trauma it is best for them to experience reward on a more frequent basis until there is a level of trust. (Using a game like Vlinder, www.ourbreakthroughs.com is helpful in having some consistency and structure in your reward system.)

The fifth step is Celebrate. Look back at all you have accomplished. Go out to dinner and celebrate that you are working on your relationship and that you have made it all the way through the five steps! Think about how far you have come. Before you started you hadn’t accepted that your child needed attention and you weren’t looking at being available in a way that involved you both opening up your lives to one another. By recognizing your child’s assigned identity you opened up avenues for your child to re-invent themselves. Finally by talking about your child’s problem area’s and rewarding positive behaviors you have reinforced your expectations.

These steps should not take the place of counseling or medical attention if needed. There are different levels of trauma and we all experience them differently. I advocate for families that want to work on their family relationships and provide many tools to help them do so including Vlinder and Consultations. www.ourbreakthroughs.com

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Why Writing Thank You Notes Teaches Good Manners

By | January 21st, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , |

You may or may not advocate handwritten thank you notes in your home; no doubt, you have your reasons either way. Some folks believe the practice is outdated and the idea shouldn’t be forced on unwilling kids. Others were taught when they were young that writing letters of thanks after receiving presents was a polite measure and want their kids to do the same. Perhaps no one is right or wrong, but kids can benefit from expressing their gratitude by writing thank you notes; here’s how.

Appreciation
The act of writing thank you notes make kids think about the thought and care that goes into buying and wrapping the toys and gadgets they receive. The gifts themselves are super-exciting, of course. However, realizing friends and relatives care enough to be thoughtful adds a positive emotional dimension to receiving presents.

Gratitude
There’s more to gratitude than the recognition presents come from someone rather than appearing out of the blue. Studies show the art of being grateful makes people happy; it’s a well-being tool. Once kids tune into gratitude they can use it in all areas of life to boost happiness.

Writing for well-being
Many kids use computers instead of writing words on paper. Nonetheless, research reveals there’s a connection between expressing feelings in written form and well-being. Kids who get used to writing about what’s on their minds, whether to say thanks for gifts or share how they feel about events in a journal, can reduce stress.  If your child finds this type of writing, he or she might continue to write, not only to express gratitude but also for enjoyment and anxiety reduction later in life.

Good manners
Teach your kids good manners and they will thank you somewhere down the road of life. Etiquette is a useful social tool that makes people stand out from the crowd: it helps them forge friendships and make a terrific impression. The habit of being polite gained from writing thank you notes will give them the edge as they mature.

Handwritten thank you notes are just one way your kids can show appreciation for gifts. Nevertheless, putting gratitude down on paper rather than using another method is beneficial since doing so teaches them life lessons you won’t want them to miss.

Original Post can be found on Child Development Institute

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An Overview of Behavioral Psychology

By | January 8th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

Updated August 16, 2016
originally located at VeryWell.

Behaviorism, also known as behavioral psychology, is a theory of learning based on the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. Behaviorists believe that our responses to environmental stimuli shape our actions.

According to this school of thought, behavior can be studied in a systematic and observable manner regardless of internal mental states.

Basically, only observable behavior should be considered—cognitions, emotions, and moods are far too subjective.

Strict behaviorists believed that any person can potentially be trained to perform any task, regardless of genetic background, personality traits, and internal thoughts (within the limits of their physical capabilities). It only requires the right conditioning.

A Brief History

Behaviorism was formally established with the 1913 publication of John B.

Watson’s classic paper, “Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It.” It is best summed up by the following quote from Watson, who is often considered the “father” of behaviorism:

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.”

Simply put, strict behaviorists believe that all behaviors are the result of experience.

Any person, regardless of his or her background, can be trained to act in a particular manner given the right conditioning.

From about 1920 through the mid-1950s, behaviorism grew to become the dominant school of thought in psychology. Some suggest that the popularity of behavioral psychology grew out of the desire to establish psychology as an objective and measurable science. Researchers were interested in creating theories that could be clearly described and empirically measured but also used to make contributions that might have an influence on the fabric of everyday human lives.

There are two major types of conditioning:

  1. Classical conditioning is a technique frequently used in behavioral training in which a neutral stimulus is paired with a naturally occurring stimulus. Eventually, the neutral stimulus comes to evoke the same response as the naturally occurring stimulus, even without the naturally occurring stimulus presenting itself. The associated stimulus is now known as the conditioned stimulus and the learned behavior is known as the conditioned response.
  2. Operant conditioning (sometimes referred to as instrumental conditioning) is a method of learning that occurs through reinforcements and punishments. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior. When a desirable result follows an action, the behavior becomes more likely to occur again in the future. Responses followed by adverse outcomes, on the other hand, become less likely to happen again in the future.

Top Things to Know

  • Learning can occur through associations. The classical conditioning process works by developing an association between an environmental stimulus and a naturally occurring stimulus. In physiologist Ivan Pavlov’s classic experiments, dogs associated the presentation of food (something that naturally and automatically triggers a salivation response) with the sound of a bell, at first, and then the sight of a lab assistant’s white coat. Eventually, the lab coat alone elicited a salivation response from the dogs.
  • Different factors can influence the classical conditioning process. During the first part of the classical conditioning process, known as acquisition, a response is established and strengthened. Factors such as the prominence of the stimuli and the timing of presentation can play an important role in how quickly an association is formed.

    When an association disappears, this is known as extinction, causing the behavior to weaken gradually or vanish. Factors such as the strength of the original response can play a role in how quickly extinction occurs. The longer a response has been conditioned, for example, the longer it may take for it to become extinct.

  • Learning can also occur through rewards and punishments. Behaviorist B.F. Skinner described operant conditioning as the process in which learning can occur through reinforcement and punishment. More specifically, by forming an association between a certain behavior and the consequences of that behavior, you learn. For example, if a parent rewards their child with praise every time they pick up their toys, the desired behavior is consistently reinforced. As a result, the child will become more likely to clean up messes.
  • Reinforcement schedules are important in operant conditioning. This process seems fairly straightforward—simply observe a behavior and then offer a reward or punishment. However, Skinner discovered that the timing of these rewards and punishments has an important influence on how quickly a new behavior is acquired and the strength of the corresponding response.

    Continuous reinforcement involves rewarding every single instance of a behavior. It is often utilized at the beginning of the operant conditioning process. But as the behavior is learned, the schedule might switch to one of a partial reinforcement. This involves offering a reward after a number of responses or after a period of time has elapsed. Sometimes, partial reinforcement occurs on a consistent or fixed schedule. In other instances, a variable and an unpredictable number of responses or time must occur before the reinforcement is delivered.

  • Several thinkers influenced behavioral psychology. In addition to those already mentioned, there are a number of prominent theorists and psychologists who left an indelible mark on behavioral psychology. Among these are Edward Thorndike, a pioneering psychologist who described the law of effect, and Clark Hull, who proposed the drive theory of learning.
  • There are a number of therapeutic techniques rooted in behavioral psychology. Though behavioral psychology assumed more of a background position after 1950, its principles still remain important. Even today, behavior analysis is often used as a therapeutic technique to help children with autism and developmental delays acquire new skills. It frequently involves processes such as shaping (rewarding closer approximations to the desired behavior) and chaining (breaking a task down into smaller parts and then teaching and chaining the subsequent steps together). Other behavioral therapy techniques include aversion therapy, systematic desensitization, token economies, modeling, and contingency management.
  • Behavioral psychology has some strengths. Behaviorism is based on observable behaviors, so it is sometimes easier to quantify and collect data when conducting research. Effective therapeutic techniques such as intensive behavioral intervention, behavior analysis, token economies, and discrete trial training are all rooted in behaviorism. These approaches are often very useful in changing maladaptive or harmful behaviors in both children and adults.
  • It also has some weaknesses. Many critics argue that behaviorism is a one-dimensional approach to understanding human behavior. They suggest that behavioral theories do not account for free will and internal influences such as moods, thoughts, and feelings. Also, it does not account for other types of learning that occur without the use of reinforcement and punishment. Moreover, people and animals can adapt their behavior when new information is introduced even if that behavior was established through reinforcement.
  • Behavioral psychology differs from other perspectives. One of the major benefits of behaviorism is that it allowed researchers to investigate observable behavior in a scientific and systematic manner. However, many thinkers believed it fell short by neglecting some important influences on behavior. Freud, for example, felt that behaviorism failed by not accounting for the unconscious mind’s thoughts, feelings, and desires that influence people’s actions. Other thinkers, such as Carl Rogers and the other humanistic psychologists, believed that behaviorism was too rigid and limited, failing to take into consideration personal agency.

    More recently, biological psychology has emphasized the power the brain and genetics play in determining and influencing human actions. The cognitive approach to psychology focuses on mental processes such as thinking, decision-making, language, and problem-solving. In both cases, behaviorism neglects these processes and influences in favor of studying just observable behaviors.

A Word From Very Well

One of the greatest strengths of behavioral psychology is the ability to clearly observe and measure behaviors. Weaknesses of this approach include failing to address cognitive and biological processes that influence human actions. While the behavioral approach might not be the dominant force that it once was, it has still had a major impact on our understanding of human psychology. The conditioning process alone has been used to understand many different types of behaviors, ranging from how people learn how language develops.

But perhaps the greatest contributions of behavioral psychology lie in its practical applications. Its techniques can play a powerful role in modifying problematic behavior and encouraging more positive, helpful responses. Outside of psychology, parents, teachers, animal trainers, and many others make use of basic behavioral principles to help teach new behaviors and discourage unwanted ones.

Sources:

Skinner, B. F. About Behaviorism. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc; 1974.

Mills, J. A. Control: A History of Behavioral Psychology. New York: NYU Press; 2000.

Watson, J. B. Behaviorism. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers; 1930.

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