operant conditioning to teach children with ADHD self control (part 3)

To help the child learn self control aspects, training them to talk to themselves could be an effective strategy (Meichenbaum, 1971). According to this strategy, children would be provided with a skill to internalize verbal commands that help them develop a the ability to voluntarily control their behavior (Meichenbaum, 1971). In this respect, providing clear and appropriate instructions, establishing specific short-term goals and using daily report cards to track progress could better the child’s learning of the desired behavior. For instance, the child could be instructed through a four-question approach, in which one asks himself what one is doing, what doing such an activity leads to, would one like being in a position that such an action results into, and what should one do to avoid being in such a position. Applying such a methodology to a child who does not wait for one’s turn, the responses would point to the fact that one’s impulsive behavior, would lead to one being delayed from handing in one’s paper, an undesirable aspect, thus necessitating change of behavior.

Operant conditioning offers effective ways through which behavior modification may proceed, by encouraging desired behavior through subsequent reinforcement, and extinguishing undesirable behavior through subsequent punishment. The use of such perspectives to modify impulsive behavior and introduce self control in children was the subject of this paper. Extinguishing impulsive acts would require punishments such as timeout from activities the child was engaging in. Whenever the child engages in the desired behavior, appropriate reinforcements such as appreciation could lead to such a child internalizing such behavior. Teaching the child skills such as “talking to themselves”, in this respect, would provide the child with a strategy to avoid the urge to engage in disruptive behavior.


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