Behavior modification is "the use of rewards or punishments to reduce or eliminate problematic behavior" while teaching an individual to respond differently to stimuli within his environment, according to the National Youth Network, an organization designed to help underachieving youths. Children and families generally work with mental health workers to create a behavior modification plan that helps children who have defiant and disobedient behavior learn to be compliant and cooperative. Many plans allow children to set their own goals instead of having goals imposed on them.
Defiant children often receive consequences for noncompliance at home and at school, which causes them to spend time away from friends and others who are engaged in enjoyable activities. Children with behavioral concerns and emotional disturbances often wish they would remember to be compliant, and typically don't want to engage in behavior that causes them to miss out on opportunities. When creating a behavior modification plan, a child might say, "I just want to learn how to listen and follow directions." This goal will enable the child to create more harmonious experiences in his environment.
Many children with behavioral issues have limited skills when it comes to resolving conflicts. Addressing conflict resolution in behavior modification plans improves a child's chances of engaging in appropriate behavior with others. Kids might set the goal of getting better at resolving conflict so they can have more friends. Parents can also teach children skills that they use to resolve conflicts in their own daily life.
Anger management is a common goal found in behavior modification plans. Anger is often at the root of many defiant and disobedient acts, so learning ways to effectively manage anger allows a child to make better behavioral choices. Children might want to learn how to accept and acknowledge angry feelings, allow others to experience anger in their own way and use tools to control anger, such as deep-breathing techniques.
Effective Coping Strategies
Coping skills must be learned, according to CopingSkillsForKids.net, a coping skills project that evaluates how the brain and child development affect coping strategies in children. Many behavior modification plans include goals for coping with major losses and traumatic events that have occurred in a child's life, such as a death in the family or physical abuse. An older child could set a goal to come to grips with his parents' divorce, which he might identify as a trigger for overwhelming sadness.
- MDAAP.org: Brief Interventions: Behavior Modification
- National Youth Network: Behavior Modification -- Child Behavior Problems -- Out of Control Teens -- Behavior Modification Schools
- Let's Talk: Lesson 6: Developing a Behavior Modification Plan
- Mayo Clinic: Adult Health: Anger Management: Your Questions Answered
- Coping Skills For Kids: Brain Works Project: Coping Skills and Tools
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