Are you struggling to improve some of your child’s behaviors? Read along for our practical tips to support you along the way.
Are you a parent or caregiver who is constantly looking for ways to get your child to complete tasks or chores at home? Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can help! To create a change in an individual’s behavior, ABA therapists use reinforcers, or rewards, to increase the probability of your child displaying the desired behavior. Rewards can come in many different forms, and knowing how and when to provide them can help create the changes you wish to see.
As with anything in life, reward options should vary based on personal interests; the more appealing it is to a child, the higher the likelihood that they will make positive changes in their behavior. On the other hand, if the reward is of no interest to a child, there is a high likelihood that there will be no impact on their behavior. For example, if Jane dislikes loud music, and you offer concert tickets as a reward for completing her homework every day for an entire week, Jane will not be motivated to do her homework. In contrast, if John loves candy, he may be very motivated to takeout the garbage if he receives a pack of gum in exchange.
Now, you may be wondering how to find the reward that is most motivating for your child. If reward options are unclear to you, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do they do in their free-time?
- Do they have any special characters/cartoons on their backpack or clothing?
- What is their favorite snack?
- Is there a certain place they always ask to go to with friends?
After coming up with a few ideas, you can offer reward options to your child and see what catches their interest. Their selection will likely be a good option to provide when they successfully demonstrate skills in the future. Remember, while tangible items can be great rewards, there are many more options! Other types of rewards include:
1. Social Rewards
These can include praise, such as saying “great job!” when your child answers a question correctly.
2. Token Rewards
These can be points, stars, or physical tokens on a chart for performing desired behaviors that are collected and exchanged for a desired item or outing, such as a gift card, screen time, or their favorite meal.
Below are some scenario examples of how to include rewards when using ABA:
1. Social Reward
You ask your daughter to clean up after she is done playing with her blocks. If your daughter cleans up her blocks, you say: “awesome job putting away your toys!”.
2. Tangible Reward
You ask your child to answer the question: “what is your phone number?”. If your child recites the phone number correctly, you give them a new coloring book they’ve been asking for.
3. Token Reward
You ask your son to walk the dog after school on Monday through Friday. For each day he walks the dog, a token is given to him. After he earns 5 tokens, he gets to go out for ice cream on the weekend.
Tips for Long-term Success
Now that you know what interests your child and when to provide rewards, below is a list of tips to ensure that these rewards continue to be a source of motivation:
1. Make the reward exclusive
Do not provide it otherwise. If your child knows that they can go out for ice cream whether they walk to dog or not, chances are that they will not be driven to walk the dog any more.
2. Keep your word
If you promised your daughter that you will take her to the movies on Sunday if she keeps her room clean all week, make sure you do that. Putting off their reward may weaken their trust and could have a negative impact on how motivated they are by this reward in the future.
3. Be quick
If the reward is tangible, such as a piece of candy or a coloring book, try to provide it immediately after your child shows the positive behavior change. For example, give your son a piece of gum right after they finish putting away their laundry, instead of ten minutes later when they’ve spilled a gallon of milk on the floor. This will help them associate the reward with the behavior you are working on improving, not the behavior you want to see less of.
Encouraging your child to make positive changes in their behavior can be a daunting task. With the right motivation in place, anything is possible! Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this page to stay up to date on tips like this and more.