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Examples of Behavioral Modifications Plans for Kids

by Melinda Kedro

A behavior modification plan is a series of steps designed to change actions of a child by controlling the environmental and interpersonal interactions to address the undesirable behaviors. Any strategic plan implemented to positively affect your child's behaviors must focus on the whole child, teach the child coping and self-management skills, be proactive in nature, rely on trust between the adult and child and support the child at problematic times.

Reward Charts

A reward chart is a common method used to address a child's unsatisfactory behavior. Toddlers, preschoolers and even older children respond to visible cues, tracking progress and receiving a reward for reaching a goal. A reward chart recognizes positive behaviors demonstrated by the child by using stickers, clips or some other emblem to represent every admirable choice made by the child. Design a system with your child to determine how many stickers must be collected before they can achieve a reward. A reward can be a tangible object like a small toy, ice cream or new book. Children can also work towards intangible rewards like a trip to the zoo or a movie.

Positive Reinforcement

Children of all ages respond to positive reinforcement. Behavior modification plans that incorporate frequent positive reinforcement change the focus from the negative behaviors to acknowledging when a child does something agreeable. Provide ample opportunities for your child to succeed at a task. Invite your child to participate in simple family routines like unloading the dishwasher and pulling weeds in the garden. Shifting your focus to your child's commendable behaviors, rather than reacting and punishing adverse behaviors, helps guide the child's actions towards favorable change. Keep in mind that it is essential for all significant adults in the child's life to respond uniformly to behaviors demonstrated by the child in order for the plan to be effective.

A Structured Schedule

Many times, when a child continually displays negative behaviors, it is the child's way of responding to environmental elements that are out of his control. Sometimes it is as simple as structuring your child's day with clear allotments of time for specific activities to notice behavioral improvements. Use a timer to monitor various daily activities such as block-play, outside time or homework time. Allow your child to participate in the structure of the day by creating a visual chart or journal that outlines every activity of the day from getting dressed to getting ready for bed. Try to schedule special one-on-one time with your child at least 3 to 4 times a week. Modifying aspects of daily life can significantly impact your child's behavior.

Combining Elements

One specific plan does not exists that will work for every child when it comes to behavior modification. Every child is different and, as a result, every behavior modification plan will reflect the specific needs of the child. For example, a child may respond well to using a reward chart, having three special 20-minute one-on-one sessions with mom during the week and designating a positive time-out area for when a break is needed to reflect on his behaviors. As long as all adults are supporting the child through teaching self-control and consequences in the same manner, a clearly designed plan is followed and progress is tracked, positive results will most likely occur. Remember that behavioral changes take time and you cannot expect immediate results.

About the Author

With more than 10 years experience in early childhood education, Melinda Kedro holds a Masters degree in education, teaching certification through the Association Montessori Internationale and is a licensed childcare provider through the Colorado Department of Human Services.

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