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4 Types of Behavior Intervention

by Sam Grover

If someone you know is exhibiting negative behavior, you may want to change this behavior by intervening. There are a variety of different ways you can do this, but they all revolve around the same theme: letting the person know that their behavior is not acceptable and making it clear that there are consequences for continuing this behavior. The best way to change behavior is to combine these four as needed; not everybody respond well to just one of them, so it is best to make some changes and adjustments here and there.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a good behavior intervention technique because it doesn't even recognize the negative behavior.To positively reinforce someone, you just tell them they're doing a great job or otherwise reward them whenever they do the right thing. This creates a situation where they associate the right thing with a good outcome and have no such association with the wrong thing. This helps to positively change behavior without having to punish, yell or otherwise negatively reinforce things.

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is the opposite of positive reinforcement. Rather than positively reinforce the correct behaviors, negative reinforcement negatively reinforces the incorrect behaviors. This is good for more serious issues. For example, if a child consistently forgets to tie his shoes, you can positively reinforce him whenever he does so because forgetting isn't a big deal. However, if a child consistently climbs on the counter next to a pot of boiling water, you need to negatively reinforce that behavior immediately because the consequences of knocking over the pot are so dire. Examples of negative reinforcement include stern words, loss of privileges and other forms of punishment. Our behavior as law-abiding citizens is intervened with through negative reinforcement in the form of fines, community service and jail sentences.

Instructional Intervention

Instructional intervention is used on people who already want to change their behavior, but simply don't know how. This is one of the easier behavior intervention strategies because you simply need to tell someone what to do and how to do it. Once they have this information, they can change their behavior on their own.

Supportive Intervention

Supportive intervention is when someone needs help reinforcing a behavior. They may know it theoretically, but they may not always apply it as it is not yet internalized. So, supportive intervention is when people are gently guided through positive and negative feedback; it is different from other forms of behavior intervention because it has a specific spot in the behavior management cycle, specifically, after the behavior has been learned but before it is consistently applied.

About the Author

Sam Grover began writing in 2005, also having worked as a behavior therapist and teacher. His work has appeared in New Zealand publications "Critic" and "Logic," where he covered political and educational issues. Grover graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Arts in history.

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