(Check here each month for positive solutions to behavior issues.)
Pam Scharping, M.Ed., BCBA
Seven Steps for Earning Instructional Control
In Robert Schramm's book, "The Seven Steps to Earning Instructional Control" strategies are provided to reduce instructors nagging, forced physical prompts, and continuous escape blocking. The goal is to create a learning environment where escape behavior is less desirable then the reinforcing value of the teaching setting. To maximize a child's learning potential, the teaching setting needs to become the child's preference.
Step 1: You are the reinforcer gatekeeper. Reinforcers should be kept in sight, but not accessible unless given permission. See-through containers for young children or a locked room/cabinet for older students are two examples. Restriction of reinforcement allows you to be more effective during teaching time, but is not used to deny the child of reinforcing stimuli during free time.
Show the child you are working with that you are fun. Make each interaction you have with him an enjoyable experience
so that he will want to follow your directions to earn more time sharing experiences with you.
Step 3: Gain the student's trust. Say what you mean and mean what you say. When a directive is given, do not allow access to reinforcement until the request is followed (prompt if necessary). Avoid second chances, warnings, negotiation, or deals.
Step 4: Teach that following directions is the best means to obtain items/activities. Deliver easy directions often and then reinforce following directives with good experiences. This step uses the Premack Principle or Grandma's Rule: "Before you get your dessert, you first have to eat your dinner."
Step 5: Provide consistent reinforcement. Initially, reinforce after each positive response. Work towards decreasing the frequency and randomizing the schedule of reinforcement over time.
Step 6: Demonstrate understanding of your student's priorities as well as your own. Know what activities/items your student prefers to engage in. List what goals you are working on and the current reinforcement criteria. Use the child's motivation and try to present skills as they relate to the child's current interest.
Step 7: Demonstrate that ignoring instructions or choosing inappropriate behavior will not result in obtaining reinforcement. The student must not receive access to preferred items, extra attention, or escape after failing to follow a directive.