When therapists and psychologists attempt to change or alter someone’s personality, they often use behavior modification techniques to make the transition more lasting and effective.
Behavior modification is when a specific kind of behavior (usually negative) is modified or changed in some way. There are different kinds of behavior modification techniques that are used. These behavior modification techniques are some sort of therapy. In order for these therapies to work properly, the behaviors involved need to be understood. For them to be understood correctly, they need to be observed and assessed before the behavior modification begins. This is referred to as a functional assessment.
The method of functional assessment that is most often used is the ABC approach, a method in which they make observations bases on Antecedents, Behaviors and Consequences. What these mean are “What happened before a certain behavior took place?”, “What was the behavior like?”, and “What happens right after the behavior?” Once these observations have been made consistently with the same results, specifically on the Antecedents and Consequences, they can decide on a course of action to eliminate the bad behavior. The usual course of action is some sorts of intervention to alter modify the behavior. The behavior modification techniques are usually aimed at a specific behavioral issue.
Therapy cannot be effective unless the behaviors to be changed are understood within a specific context. Therefore, a functional assessment is needed before performing behavior modification. One of the most simple yet effective methods of functional assessment is called the “ABC” approach, where observations are made on Antecedents, Behaviors, and Consequences. In other words, “What comes directly before the behavior?”, “What does the behavior look like?”, and “What comes directly after the behavior?” Once enough observations are made, the data are analyzed and patterns are identified. If there are consistent antecedents and/or consequences, then an intervention should target them in order to increase or decrease the target behavior. Many techniques in this therapy are specific techniques aimed at specific issues.
The only way of giving positive reinforcement in behavior modification is in providing compliments, approval, encouragement, and affirmation; a ratio of five compliments for every one complaint is generally seen as being the most effective in altering behavior in a desired manner.
Children need to know what is expected of them, with clear understanding of behavioral limits. This leads naturally to a discussion of punishment. Punishment may stop undesired behavior or teach avoidance behavior, but is less effective than positive reinforcement as an adjunct to attaining desired behavioral change.
Positive reinforcement may take the form of a reward, such as a treat or a special privilege; but an immediate pat on the back or other acknowledgment can be equally powerful. In setting expectations, make them realistic and achievable. Minimize reactions to mistakes (to extinguish them). When children encounter failure, show them how to correct it and move on, being quick to praise positive results.
Practice makes perfect only when the practice is correct. Practicing errors only makes them stronger. When the whole task seems insurmountable, break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. In the classroom, for example, develop an agenda every morning, so children know what’s expected and can manage their time accordingly. At home, daily routines are extremely helpful and can lead to lifelong habits of emotional well-being and productivity.