Behavioral Management

Behavioral management means to control behavior by making good behaviors stronger and bad behaviors weaker.

Steps in Behavioral Management

  1. Choose one behavior to focus on at first.
    1. Often we want to change many behaviors at once, but it is best to start with only one.
    2. If possible, choose a behavior that doesn't make you very upset or angry
  2. Watch the child's behavior closely
    1. Notice when the child behaves badly (day, time of day, before or after certain activities, etc.)
    2. Notice the type of behavior (hitting others, biting themselves, hitting their head against the floor, screaming etc.)
    3. How often and intense is the behavior?
    4. This information may help you to understand why the child is behaving badly (they are hungry, they want your attention, the are angry at being sent to their room etc.)
  3. Watch your behavior and how you react to your child. Knowing how you react is very important.
    1. Children feel good when we give them approval. They feel bad when we show disapproval for their actions.
    2. If we want to change their behavior, we will need to be aware of how we react to them.
    3. Children want and need our attention. If you usually react negatively to the child, he learns to get attention by misbehaving and crying. To avoid reacting negatively to a child when you are angry, you may want to think of how you will respond before a difficult situation happens.
    4. If you usually react positively to the child, he learns to behave appropriately and you both enjoy each other more.
    5. Here is one example: The child behaves quietly by himself. Every 10-15 minutes you go over and say, "you're being so good, playing so nice and quiet while I fix lunch. I like that."
  4. Develop a plan for coping with the child's bad behavior.
    1. Ignore the behavior you want to change.
    2. Interrupt or intervene before the behavior occurs.
    3. Give the child positive reinforcement for good behavior.
    4. There are five main ways to give a child positive reinforcement:
      • Words: "Good job, Thank You, You are playing very nicely!"
      • Positive reactions: smiling, laughing, clapping your hands
      • Touch: hugging, touching, holding
      • Treats: food, candy
      • Activities: going for a walk, playing together
  5. Punishment should occur right away and consistently.
    1. Immediate consequences: If your child misbehaves in the morning and you punish him in the afternoon, he may not really know why you are punishing him. You need to punish him immediately to be effective.
    2. Consistent consequences: If your child cries and sometimes you get mad at him and sometimes you pick him up and cuddle him, he may get confused. If the child tries to bite or hit you and sometimes you look directly at him and say "no" and sometimes you move away and ignore him, he won't be able to tell if you're seriously angry.
  6. Notice changes.
    1. It can be helpful to write out how frequent and intense the behavior is so that you can notice when it changes and becomes less frequent and less intense.
    2. Usually when you begin to change a behavior, it will increase or get worse before it decreases or gets better. Don't get discouraged and give up, but have patience with the process.
    3. Notice and celebrate the small changes that begin to take place!