Teach? Parent? Then you use Applied Behavior Analysis- using antecedents (causes, motivations) to help a child (or adult) learn a desired behavior or skill. The system goes A-B-C, antecedent-->behavior-->consequence. Too often we focus on the consequence instead of the antecedent. What is it in the environment, the expectations, the approach that insures success? Building the foundation.
So many times we build the consequence side of behavior. Time outs, treats, emphasizing the end of the behavior. We can instead look at our expectations and set up for success. Just like taking a two year old to a movie will be a disaster no matter what bribes or punishments you set up with the child. Two year olds will not sit for two hours in a darkened room with raucous noises just because they are two.
That to me is a huge art of any disability. Understand the unique challenges of a given situation and do the best you can to create success. Hitting up against limitations day after day is exhausting. What if, instead, we created opportunities to thrive and enjoy the day?
I need to do that more for myself, actually :)
Textbook definition of punishment: takes away. Punishment can result in increased anxiety and aggression. Increased punishment for something that a learner cannot control results in shut down. Natural consequences can be punishment.
Positive Reinforcement: Incentive to motivate desired behavior.
Negative Reinforcement: Removing a consequence- no extra homework- in order to influence behavior.
If a consequence is not changing a behavior, change the strategy.
Consequences alone, especially with a disability, will not change behavior in the desired way.
Reinforcement sets the deal in advance. Paychecks are reinforcement. We agree on the terms of the contract and it is mutually beneficial. Helping the teacher and the student. Reinforcement must increase the future probablity of the behavior.
Motivating students is huge. We must be mindful. Pay attention. Respect effort. A big part of working with behavior is trying to react to behavior, fix it with effective consequences. But it can be more effective to to watch, find out what interests children, and connect with them in a positive way. I've always said that I would rather motivate students to do the right thing instead of having them worried about doing the wrong thing.
We must be a trusted and caring person in a child's life. If not, we become punishment-reinforcers. And that leads to avoidance and anxiety.
Disabilities require flexibility. Blanket consequences are asking for trouble. Blanket expectations are disasters. Disabilities require interactions beyond the usual day. They stretch us. They make us see ideas we never thought existed. They can frustrate. Or they can inspire.
How can I be inspired by my own disability?
I go back to my old belief. Life should be rewarding :)
And I am inspired to help youngsters with disabilities to celebrate their gifts. To never feel not-enough. To feel empowered. Speak their needs. Be okay with not being okay. Being fine being different.
Sounds like a worthy mission :)