Positive Reinforcement

Steps of Self-Healing from Trauma

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

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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Vlinder Elf Tips

By | December 12th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

It’s that time of year when parents get a couple of extra hands to keep an on eye on things. I’m talking about the elves. I appreciate using the little guys and gals to help bring some order into the home. There are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that this is helping your quest to maintain long term change and not adding additional stressors to your kiddos. It’s a nice break having Santa’s naughty and nice list as a motivator but since we know you aren’t going to send a present back to the North Pole we need to keep it real.

Some children are more prone to anxiety than others. You are feeding that by suggesting that they may not get the gifts if they don’t perform. Careful how much power you give the elves and remember not to put into jeopardy that which will not be taken away. This tradition is meant to be fun.

Using the elves to create order in your home is a type of reward system. Depending on when the elves show up at your house, the reward takes a long time to get there. One way to manage this is by setting up other forms of positive reinforcement. Rewards are not always presents and candy. Some ideas are sitting at the table with mom or dad to write a letter to a loved one, special one on one time or tons of kudos and high fives! Be clear why the reward has been earned if you want to see it repeated.

Finally, if you use your elf for behavior management then please remember that they, the elves, also “see” the positive behavior. Allow your kiddos time to reflect on the positive reports that the elves will be reporting to Santa.  Personal pride goes a long way.

If you have any questions or suggestions for today’s entry please contact us on our website, www.ourbreakthroughs.com. We love visitors and invite you take a look around while you are there. If you would like to sign up for our free newsletter there is a form provided on the home page. Happy Holidays!

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Where Did Vlinder Come From

By | September 29th, 2017|Tags: , , , , |

A question I get asked a lot is how I came up with Vlinder. Was it something I played as a child or did I discover it while I was over seas. No…the answer is it is a compilation of a number of things over my career. One thing I like about social service is I am in an element that is easy to learn from others. That is what inspired me to create Vlinder. Picking and choosing the best pieces was the easy part of creating Vlinder.

My background is in Sociology. I believe in the concept that characteristics are developed and maintained within a society or social group rather than existing inherently. That thought should empower you to affect change in your child. This is the first lesson in Vlinder. Change is inevitable because your world is ever-changing. You can impact what it looks like.

In the late 90’s, when I worked first in prison and then with at-risk youth teaching life skills, I took lessons in team building, communication, stress and anger management, motivation and value recognition. You will find each of them interwoven in the game.

In 2006 when I first started having children I began to realize that there is a difference utilizing a program in theory vs. in practicum. I realize that sounds silly since my child was just a baby, but I realized that some of the expectations that I had for others, no longer applied to myself. The lessons themselves were still valid, but the application seemed unrealistic. It was like giving someone the tools without the instruction booklet.

I got another job working with youth and learned the importance of teaching expectations and most important recognizing growth. It wasn’t the first time that I appreciated this practice. It was, however the first time I had see it on such a large scale without the use of another “parenting style”.

At this point I had three children. I made a point not to bring my work home. I didn’t for a number of years, until that fateful day that my own children’s behavior put me over the edge and I realized that I wasn’t utilizing my skills at home. That “aha” moment was the biggest lesson that my children have given me.

I was reminded of the inspiration I had early in my career and how unattainable it felt after having children of my own. Now that my children were of an age when they needed direction I had a chance to make a change.

There are no chapters to read, no questionnaires to fill out, no exercises to complete. Vlinder is an experience for the whole family to benefit from. The beauty of it is that you can personalize it so that it is already part of your routine!

I hope this answers the question. Keep them coming! admin@ourbreakthroughs.com

For those of you that are just joining us, welcome. There is more at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.

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Positive Reinforcement and Anger Management

By | December 12th, 2016|Tags: , , , , |

Here are some signs that your child may have an anger management problem.  Continue reading for some helpful tips on how to help modify unwanted behavior. 

  1. Is your child argumentative, ready to enter a debate without thought of subject matter or consequence? 
  2. Does your child have problems with impulse control?  This can appear in different forms including verbal outbursts or even physically acting out. 
  3. Does your child threaten harm to self or others as a negotiation tactic? 
  4. Does your child have difficulty accepting responsibility? 
  5. Is your child difficult to calm down following an altercation or misunderstanding?
  6. Does your child appear pessimistic and unable to see a brighter side?
  7. Is your child uncooperative and unwilling to follow directions no matter how straight forward?
  8. Is your child easily frustrated when presented with a new task or problem?

Collectively these signs of anger management issues may indicate that it is time to see a therapist or other specialist in order to reach a proper diagnosis.  The internet is helpful in understanding underlying problems, it should in no way take the place of professionals. 

There are; however, things that you can do at home to help manage your child’s anger.  First of all, acknowledge that anger is a normal emotion.  It is the actions that result from anger that need to be addressed.

The next part is sometimes difficult for parents to grasp.  Although there needs to be consequences for negative behavior, there are times when positive behavior should receive more attention.  Instead of getting frustrated and providing attention when your child misbehaves… use that energy to praise your child when they are behaving.  Be sure you take time to explain why you are proud and happy of their positive behavior.   Be prepared to reward.  If you child is aware of your expectations and they have something to work for then your child is more likely to repeat the positive behavior.  Change takes time and is inevitable!

For more information on positive reinforcement and behavior modification techniques visit me at www.ourbreakthroughs.com.  Breakthrough provides a positive reinforcement parenting aide called Vlinder. 

$5 Coupon Code: VLINDER

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