Intervention without Punishment

Traditionally, punishments were used as the ideal way to deter inappropriate behavior in children. Many psychologists have questioned the use of punishment as deterrence of inappropriate behavior. Punishments have been found to be ineffective and only yield short-term results. Moreover, there is also the danger that the child’s behavior may worsen after punishments, rather than improve. Psychologists advocated for the Implementation of reinforcement as an alternative to punishment. Reinforcement emphasizes on rewarding appropriate behavior. The paper below analyzes several reinforcement-based interventions that can be considered when handling students with severe problematic behaviors.
The use of reinforcement rather than punishments in an effort to correct severe problem behavior has been found to be effective. Punishments may present immediate positive results. However, studies indicate that the punishment increases the aggressive tendencies of the child. Additionally, punishment provides an ideal strategy for the acquisition of additional undesirable behavior (Mayer, 1995). Reinforcement emphasizes on the provision of positive supports and feedback. Reinforcement techniques also emphasize on increasing the occurrence of adaptive and desirable behaviors and elimination of triggers that encourage disruptive behavior. There are several reinforcement-based approaches that can be used to reduce severe behavioral problems.
The Differential Reinforcement
Differential reinforcement is the application of reinforcement when the student provides the correct response and the denial of reinforcement when there is no correct response. There are different categories of differential reinforcement. Differential reinforcement for higher rates of behavior (DRH) involves the provision of reinforcement when the behavior occurs at a higher rate than before. DHR is provided to increase desirable behavior and minimize undesirable behaviors. The second category of differential reinforcement is differential reinforcement of lower rates of behavior (DRL) which is accorded to students who manifest behavior that occur at a lower rate than before. DRL is executed to minimize the occurrence of inappropriate behavior. The third category is the differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO) which involves the provision of reinforcement when the student keeps off a target-inappropriate behavior. DRO is executed to minimize inappropriate behavior (Mayer, 1995).
The fourth form of behavior is the differential reinforcement alternative behavior (DRA) which involves the provision of reinforcement when a student adopts a more appropriate behavior than the previous behavior. DRA is executed to encourage individual to replace their behavior with ideal alternatives. The last category is the differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI). DRI involves the provision of reinforcement when an individual exhibits another behavior.
Positive behavioral Support (PBS)
PBS is a function-based approach that strives to eliminate challenging behaviors and replace the challenging behavior with prosocial skills. PBS is ideal for behavioral change because it also considers external factors e.g. the setting, task demands and individual reinforcement. PBS functions on the basis of behavioral theory that indicates that a problem behavior persists because the behavior results to a positive consequence. PBS strives to analyze the contexts and outcomes of behavior (Wynsberghe, 2012). It is by understanding the context of behavior that PBS can be implemented as a strategy to enhance appropriate social behavior. PBS has been beneficial for students as it has encouraged the adoption of positive behavior among students who had severe problem behavior. PBS is also beneficial for the school environment as it encourages the engagement in academic activities. The number of students who require disciplinary measures also reduces as students abandon their problematic behavior.
Advantages and Disadvantages
PBS is preferred because of its person-centered approach. Therapists who use PBS strive to understand the students. The therapist also strives to gather the student’s skills and goals. The therapist then manipulates the skills and goals in a manner that encourages the acquisition of a target behavior. The person-centered approach increases the chances of success, in relation to the acquisition of appropriate behavior. PBS thus leads to positive changes through the reinforcement of adaptive behaviors. A therapist may encourage a student to learn effective coping mechanisms such as relaxation hence minimizing the need for severe measures such as punishments or removal of privileges (Wynsberghe, 2012). PBS is highly effective if it is executed by a trained professional. However, the process takes time as it emphasizes on establishing a framework that works for individual students.
Shaping is another behavioral intervention that is used when a student needs to change and adopt appropriate behavior. A teacher teaches a student to demonstrate the desired behavior by reinforcing successful approximation of the behavior. The shaping technique allows a teacher to reinforce successful indications of appropriate behavior. Similarly, indications of inappropriate behaviors are not reinforced. The student gradually learns that he receives reinforcement when he presents certain behavior (Miltenberger, 2011). The student thus strives to exhibit the appropriate behavior and eliminate the undesirable behavior. The teacher must first determine the behavior that the student must learn, or change. The identification of the target behavior is mandatory as it ascertains that only the desired behavior is reinforced. Shaping is ideal for the alteration of behavior because it is a positive procedure that can be implemented in the learning of new behaviors. There are certain behaviors that are best learned using non-verbal and non-physical cues.
Advantages and disadvantages
The main advantage of shaping as behavioral modification technique is that the technique can be used to teach a new behavior. The therapist needs to establish the specific behavioral technique that he desires to teach the student. When the behavior is identifies, the therapist manipulates the child actions in relation to the target behavior. Shaping technique is also ideal as it can be integrated with other behavioral techniques e.g. chaining (Miltenberger, 2011). Chaining is an instruction process off learning a new behavior in steps until a complex behavior is learned.
The main disadvantage of shaping as a behavioral modification strategy is that the procedure is time consuming. Therapist need to work closely with the students and ascertain that the target behavior has been learned. Shaping must also be executed by a professional as the procedure can be manipulated and used for the learning of harmful behavior. Harmful behavior can be learned, just like appropriate behavior.
Prompting is another behavioral technique that involves encouraging the student to provide the desired response. In a learning environment, teacher can adopt the most intrusive prompts and gradually move towards the least intrusive strategies. The shift from the most intrusive to the least intrusive is ideal because it leads to high levels of success. The student is in the process of constant learning during the prompting exercise. The students learn a new behavior as the teacher gradually minimizes the intensity of intrusion. Teachers who desire their students to exhibit a permanent positive change must gradually halt the prompting exercise (Miltenberger, 2011). The stoppage of the halting exercise is mandatory to enable the student to learn to perform tasks by his own initiative. The overuse of the prompting technique may be ineffective as it may lead to overdependence. A student may depend on the prompting technique to the extent that he only demonstrates the desirable act when the prompt is executed.
Teachers can execute a variety of prompts based on their setting. First, the teacher can provide a vocal prompt. A vocal prompt involves the vocalization of a desired response. The therapist can ask a pupil to perform a specific task by voicing it. Teacher can also use visual cues where a pictorial representation of the desirable behavior is illustrated to the student. The teacher can also provide a gesture response, for instance, asking students to stand up by a swinging the arms rather than vocalizing it. The positional prompt can also be used when the teacher places an item at a strategic location to encourage the students to utilize it (Miltenberger, 2011). Lastly, teacher can use the physical prompt which involves the physical manipulation of an individual so as to acquire the desired response. A physical prompt can involve holding a students hand to demonstrate how to write the letters of the alphabet.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Prompts are useful therapy tools as they enable the student to acquire the desirable results. The therapist also manages to reinforce a specified behavior to a child. Children who succeed in adopting target behavior are motivated to work hard and achieve overcome additional milestones in their lives. A child also learns the right answer by being promoted to give the correct answer. Eventually, the child learns what is right even without the prompt. Prompts are also ideal because they are non-obtrusive and can be implemented beyond the school environment. The therapist can work with the students beyond school and integrate strategies such as writing notes on stickers to remind the students of the expected behavior (Mayer, 1995). When the child reads the stickers, he recalls that he is expected to conduct himself in a specific manner. Eventually, the child gets accustomed to a set mannerism which becomes his daily routine, with or without the prompt. Prompts are effective but therapist must be cautious of the risk of over-dependence. The over-use of prompts prohibits the child’s thinking capacities. Prompts must be withdrawn within the shortest time possible to allow the child to think on his own, in relation to the appropriate behavior.
It is ordinary for learning institutions to struggle with problematic students. Whereas punitive measures have always been deemed as the fastest and the most effective solution, the results are short-term. Reinforcement-based educational settings emphasize on the adoption of reinforcement strategies as a way of teaching problematic students new behaviors. Reinforcement strategies emphasize on assisting students to abandon their problematic behavior and adopt positive behavior. Strategies such as differential reinforcement, shaping, positive behavioral support and prompting have been found to be effective in learning new behavior. The process of learning positive behavior is gradual, but the results are long-term.

Wynsberghe, A. (2012). The benefits of positive behavior support. Retrieved from
Miltenberger, R. (2011). Behavior modification. Cengage learning
Mayer, G. R. (1995). Preventing antisocial behavior in schools. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28(4), 467–

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Submitted On Dec 18, 2017. Viewed 89 times.

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