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Positive reinforcement changes behavior
Positive reinforcement changes behavior
Sarah Hanks

Even though some children are relatively well-behaved, all kids have some behaviors that drive their parent’s nuts. Here’s help for parents from a training program called Parent Management Training or PMT. This is evidence-based treatment that helps change the behavior of children in a positive manner. The first step in the process is to define the behavior. Keep in mind that behaviors are actions that can be seen or heard. They are not feelings, thoughts or attitudes. Feeling mad is not a behavior but throwing things is.

Once you define the behavior, the next step is to figure out what the “positive opposite” of that behavior is. PMT states that “to change any behavior, it is crucial to increase the positive opposite rather than punish the negative behavior.” A common problem behavior parent’s with multiple children have is fighting. The positive opposite of fighting might be stated as playing cooperatively.

Now that we have defined the positive opposite of the behavior we want to change, the next step is called prompting: getting the positive behavior to happen. According to PMT, “a prompt is a cue or direction we give to get someone to do a behavior.” When prompting, remember to be specific, remain calm and give the prompt as close as possible to when you want the behavior to happen. If the behavior can be broken down into portions, prompt for each portion.

It is important to praise or reward the child when he performs the positive behavior. This is known as positive reinforcement. PMT defines positive reinforcement as “the procedure of increasing the desired behavior by following it with a reward or reinforcer.” Research has shown that positive reinforcement is the most powerful method of changing behaviors.

For Parent Management Training in St. Louis, contact Janet Kontz at Agape Christian Counseling Services or call 314-877-8565.