I have often heard both parents and teachers say that they've used certain reinforcers to increase appropriate behaviour and then, after a short time, it's no longer working. The lure of time on the iPad is no longer motivating, neither is their favourite game or snack. It's at this point that many give up because the child has gone back to the inappropriate behaviours. It's tough and can sometimes be overwhelming and far too difficult. So, what can be done?
Here are a few tips for maintaining the appropriate behaviours and reducing the chance of returning to the inappropriate behaviours:
1) . First and foremost – be true to your word. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Children are smart cookies! They will lose motivation very quickly if they are told something will happen at a certain time and it doesn’t.
2) The immediacy of delivering the reinforcement is essential to achieving results. Respond to the appropriate behaviour and deliver reinforcement immediately. A mistake many of us make is seeing the desired appropriate behaviour and delivering reinforcement an hour later. An example of this is when the child has behaved well at the shops for the first time and two hours after arriving at home we tell them how proud we are of their behaviour at the shops and give them some iPad time. I’m guilty of that!!! Deliver reinforcement when you walk out of the shops by stopping and having an ice-cream together to celebrate, or stop at the park on the way home. Don’t delay!!
Always try to remember that it is the behaviour you are reinforcing, not the person.