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If the child exhibits the desired behavior (or inhibits the undesirable behavior) while the behavior plan is in place, don't assume that they will do it if you stop the plan. If your plan appears to be succeeding, you might try to systematically and gradually introduce longer delays before reinforcers are delivered, or occasionally 'probe' to see if the child can maintain the behavioral control without the reinforcer. Just stopping "cold turkey" may lead to a situation in which the child is "okay" for a few days or a week, but then starts to show deteriorating behavior again.


Even if we agree that the child's behavior needs to change (for the child's benefit), that doesn't mean that we start by applying direct consequences to the child's behavior. Our first intervention should be to change the environment to reduce triggers to undesirable behavior, to provide more support and cueing, and to see if the child has the prerequisite skills to exhibit the desirable behavior. If not, our intervention should be to teach the skills while providing more support and cueing in the environment.


If a child is having a horrible day due to medication side effects, fatigue, or some other factor, continuing to apply the contingencies may frustrate them and/or demoralize them. While there is some admitted value in teaching the children that they have to learn to "play hurt" because people will still have expectations of them, we may instead be teaching the child that the world is an uncaring and uncompassionate place. Furthermore, if they can't comply with the plan that day and fail, they may lose their motivation to try again the next day. If you are working with a child whose symptom severity cycles, you may need a "Plan B" to use on particularly bad days.


Parents often know whether their child does better if they earn rewards for desirable behavior or if they do better if they lose rewards for undesirable behavior. Parents also often know if their child is likely to get too obsessed with the reward system to the point where it is likely to be counterproductive. In my opinion, no plan should ever be implemented without involving both the student and the parent in the design of the plan.


Educators and parents often assume that since the parents can generally provide more powerful or desirable rewards, writing that into the behavior plan for school behavior should boost motivation and behavior. The problems with such approaches are threefold: (1) it introduces a delay in providing or delivering the reward, (2) it keeps the parents as the main "players" when we want the child to see the teacher as being reinforcing, and (3) even parents who mean well often fail to follow through, thereby decreasing the effectiveness of the plan.

If you are planning a behavior program for implementation in school, have the necessary reinforcers or consequences all be school-based. The parents can add to that if they wish, but be sure that there are enough reinforcers in school to make the plan work.








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