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Methods of Modifying Behavior in Children Essay

I have to admit, researching this topic was a little interesting and difficult. A lot of the information only dealt with children who have certain medical conditions such as ADHD, ADD as well as other medical conditions that may need to be modified, especially in a classroom setting. As a Site Coordinator of after school programs for children in grades k-12, modifying behavior was an everyday thing for me. I constantly had to come up with ways to motivate my students to learn without causing a disruption in class, at home or better yet, anywhere. I remember constantly asking my students, “What’s wrong with just doing right?” Of course they gave me every excuse in the world on why they couldn’t get it right, but honestly, it made me enjoy working with them, sometimes. This essay will discuss different types of parenting styles that may cause reasons for behavior modification, it will also discuss the different methods and styles that teachers use in order to modify behavior in students who need a little more attention than the majority of the other students.

While reading the article Parenting Styles as Predictors of Externalizing and Internalizing Behavior Problems among Children, I discovered that there are three different parenting styles that may or may not cause modification methods for children’s behavior. The parenting styles are Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative. -“Authoritarian parents combine high control with lower levels of warmth. This parenting style allows for strong parental command over their child, leaving minimal input of the child in decisions or rationales (Baurmrind, 1991).

In addition to high control and demand, authoritarian parents show little warmth, involvement, support, or emotional commitment to their child and it is proves to be as most negative form of parenting (Baumrind & Black, 1967)” (Akhter 2011). -“Permissive parents exhibit high levels of warmth and low levels of control. Because warmth is displayed through overindulgence, permissive parents tend to be non-demanding and avoidant of controlling behavior or outlining boundaries in the children’s environment (Baumrind & Black, 1967)” (Akhter 2011).

-“Authoritative parents tend to display both high control and high responsiveness and warmth to their children. Authoritative parents set reasonable demands on and have high expectations for their children while warm and responsive” (Akhter 2011). All three styles have different techniques for raising children. Even though authoritarian and permissive parenting styles seem like they may cause the most need for behavior modification in children, authoritative has proven to cause behavior modification in children as well. I wanted to discuss these styles first because I believe it is important to understand why some children “act” the way they do.

This same article discussed surveys that were given to several families to find out why their children act the way they do in school settings. Parenting styles have played a major role in the way a child matures and succeeds in life. While researching this topic, I found that all articles or information had some sort parenting style that contributed to the behavior status of their children. Even in different countries and cultures, the parenting styles were typically within the same realm and they had the same behavior issues with their children. “Behavioral and emotional problems that children may develop are commonly divided into two groups, i.e., disruptive or externalizing behavioral problems e.g., attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct problems and emotional or internalizing behavioral problems, e.g., anxiety and depression (Achenbach, 1991).

Internalizing problems are intrapersonal in nature and appear in the form of withdrawal, depression, anxiety, and fearfulness (Achenbach, 1992; Campbell, 1995). Internalizing problems thus often affect individuals more than the others. Evidences indicate that shy and withdrawn behavior in reaction to social interaction may manifest as internalizing problems in childhood (Biederman et al., 2001) and adolescents (Caspi, Moffit, Newman, & Silva, 1996). The externalizing behavior refers to a group of conditions characterized by aggression, delinquency, and hyperactivity (Liu, 2004). They have common symptoms that are disruptive to others (Akhter 2011).” Dealing with these issues as a child can be difficult during class especially if your peers are not experiencing the same behavior.

In order to deal with children that suffer from the conditions stated above, certain methods need to happen. Most of the time parents tend to go for the medical method. Meaning they have their doctor prescribe a certain type medicine that will help calm their children or give them a “quick fix” so they can follow directions with ease during school or public places. “Medication can help seal up the holes in the bucket, so to speak, so parents and teachers won’t have to keep reminding the child over and over to do something” (Mason 2010). However, this has detrimental side effects to a child and should not be used as a lifelong cure. The medicine method is typically for children who suffer from ADD and ADHD. There is an alternative method used instead of medication for students who suffer for those conditions and that is to change their environment where the child is present so they can learn how to use their mind to cope with their surroundings while dealing with their condition.

During school, teachers tend to keep the students busy instead of let them disrupt class, this methods called the Self- Regulated Strategy Development or SRSD. “Although addressing social and behavioral issues has been the primary focus of school-based research for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD), the effects of well-designed academic instruction are, fortunately, becoming more of a focus of research (Sutherland & Wehby, 2001; Trout, Nordness, Pierce, & Epstein, 2003). Researchers, moreover, have noted that students with EBD may especially benefit from instruction that facilitates organizations, systematic thinking, and clear communication skills (Regan, Mastropieri, & Scruggs, 2005) (Mason, 2010).” The SRSD instruction consists of the students completing six stages of strategy work: develop before skills and background knowledge, discussing it, modeling it, memorizing it, provided study help and learning to become independent while completing the work.

An example of SRSD: students are given quick writes discussing the current discussion topic from class for 10 minutes. Within the quick write, the students must pick an idea, organize the notes and say more then what was presented to them or they can create a topic sentence, give reasons for the topic and explain them along with giving a creative ending. Even though the most popular method for behavior modification is medication, the other methods above can be very helpful and will not have detrimental side effects to the child’s mental state of mind and behavior.

When I first started out as a Site Coordinator for after school programs, I treated all my students the same. Meaning everyone had to act the same in order for them to get their reward from me. It had taken some time before I realized how unfair I was to some of my students. The students who did not have a problem with following directions had other students in their group that had a very hard time following my directions. I had to figure out ways to motivate my students who had a little more difficulty with following directions.

Although I did not know I was using the SRSD method at the time, my positive reinforcement for my students after I gave them quick writes seemed to help out a little. It also depended on the student and how severely their behavior needed to be modified. I remember having several parent conversations with those students who needed extra attention because I did not have a clear understanding on why they couldn’t get right in my program. After reading this article, it makes sense now. I started to understand certain things on my own but this article gave me the professional explanation I was lacking.


Parenting Styles as Predictors of Externalizing and Internalizing Behavior Problems Among Children Akhter, Noreen; Hanif, Rubina; Tariq, Naeem; Atta, Mohsin. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research 26.1 (Summer 2011): 23-41.

Evaluating Effective Writing Instruction for Adolescent Students in an Emotional and Behavior Support Setting. Mason, Linda H; Kubina, Richard M, Jr.; Valasa, Lauren L; Cramer, Anne Mong. Behavioral Disorders 35.2 (Feb 2010): 140-156.

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