Caring for an individual suffering from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is never easy, but it can be made easier through the use of behavior modification techniques. As opposed to the older paradigm that recommends medication for those suffering from this disease, behavior modification is a series of techniques designed to eliminate negative behaviors, reinforce positive behaviors and teach the individual coping skills to overcome their problem.
Behavior modification replaces or alters undesirable behaviors through the use of negative or positive reinforcement. Through consistent and persistent application of reinforcement techniques, the target behavior is eventually altered to comply with the desired standard. But what exactly are negative and positive reinforcement methods?
Negative reinforcement consists primarily of “removal” actions—that is to say, actions that deprive the subject of something. For example, you might say to the subject, “Clean your room or you cannot go out tonight.” The subject is motivated through threat of an undesirable consequence.
First of all, it should be noted that while it is possible to modify one behavior at a time, it is likewise impossible to modify multiple behaviors simultaneously. To that end, it is best to choose the most disruptive or troublesome behavior, deal with that first and move down the list in descending priority.
Once a target behavior has been selected, the reinforcement scheme should be decided upon in advance. There is nothing less conducive to effective behavior modification than a reinforcement scheme that seems capricious to the subject, or is enforced emotionally (as opposed to rationally) on the part of the administrator.
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