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Increasing and Reducing Behavior

Increasing and Reducing Behavior.

rs agoHannah Bivins Increasing and Reducing BehaviorCOLLAPSE

Clara (pseudonym) tends to grab other people’s belongings. During instruction, she will grab pencils, water bottles and snacks that do not belong to her. This causes a detrimental distraction because the students she takes things from often yell out in response. Today, Clara reached for a pencil while it was in her peer’s hand. When the other student tried to hold on, Clara’s pulling motion caused the pencil to fly across the room and almost hit another student. This incident derailed instruction because all of the students became distracted. Clara typically performs this behavior because she has a hard time focusing and needs to be constantly moving as a result of her ADHD. To reduce this behavior, I plan to use differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI) by bringing a few fidget items to keep her hands busy and keep her engaged in the lesson. This approach will be beneficial because she “cannot perform both behaviors simultaneously” (Maag, 2018, p. 247).

My school system uses a token economy in order to provide students with clear behavioral expectations, and teach, monitor and reinforce identified behaviors (Robacker, Rivera & Warren, 2016, p. 39). Specifically, we use a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) system to encourage target behaviors. PBIS points can be awarded for positive behavior, but cannot be taken away as a form of punishment. At the end of each month, students are able to redeem their points for trendy items. Additionally, once every nine weeks, students who earn enough PBIS points are able to attend a ‘good behavior party’. For Clara and her classmates, PBIS points within the token economy serve as a way to establish and encourage the respect of others. In this example, the target behavior is to respect other students’ belongings and productively engage in instruction. While other students do not struggle with taking items that do not belong to them, some struggle with using kind words and keeping their hands to themselves. For this reason, one of the target behaviors listed in the PBIS system is respect. When students operate with respect to their elders and peers, they are awarded PBIS points. Therefore, this tool to encourage target behavior is beneficial to the entire class.

As educators, we are given the tremendous opportunity and responsibility to influence the lives of countless individuals. Educators can direct students in the way they should go by reducing harmful behaviors and encouraging target behaviors. Establishing and encouraging targeted behaviors such as respect is important at all ages. Therefore, teachers must point students in the right direction as early as possible, “Train a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, English Standard Version).


Maag, J. (2018). Behavior management: From theoretical implications to practical applications (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage

Robacker, C. M., Rivera, C. J., & Warren, S. H. (2016). A Token Economy Made Easy Through ClassDojo. Intervention in School and Clinic, 52(1), 39–43. doi: 10.1177/1053451216630279

Increasing and Reducing Behavior

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