by Nancy Hawkins, Program Director
As rehabilitation professionals, our primary role is that of teachers. It is our job to teach clients skills which will enable them to live successful and productive lives. As we have learned it is much more effective to reinforce positive behaviors than to reduce or eliminate unacceptable behaviors. Every professional involved in behavior management needs to maintain a minimal 3:1 ratio. Identifying at least three appropriate behaviors to be reinforced to every inappropriate behavior to be reduced or eliminated. Otherwise the change process is perceived as restrictive and punitive. By reinforcing appropriate behaviors the change process becomes much more of a positive, rewarding, self esteem building experience. However, waiting for an appropriate to occur so it can be reinforced is a rather passive method of teaching and when the behavior never occurs spontaneously it isn't teaching at all. If we assume the professional role of teachers, then we must actively teach appropriate behavior. The procedure for actively teaching and appropriate skill is called a teaching intervention.
The key to successful teaching intervention is practice. Practice, practice, practice...that's you the teacher.
Start out by identifying teaching opportunities, and mentally run through the steps. Next practice on other staff to improve fluency. Then go to it. If at first it seems awkward, that's to be expected; with practice you will become more proficient and comfortable.
Revised: Friday, December 05, 2003 05:18 AM