THE TERMS OF CHILD PSYCHOLOGY-PART II
This is a continuation of the same titled article (PART I)
that should be in this same article directory...
Another term is Extinction. No, this does not mean a
species died out. It simply means a behavior went away.
If a behavior stops occurring, it is said to have become extinct
(stopped). This happens all the time. How many behaviors do
you not do anymore? If you are an adult, you probably no longer
stuff things under your mattress (like kids do when they do not
want to take the time to clean their room). In the past, did
you yell at your friends but Alater learn to talk quietly? Good.
Yelling became extinct. You want to make extinct some of the
(less than ideal) behaviors in your child or else you would not
be so curious about the terms in this article. People grow and
change. Old behaviors yield to new ones. You get the idea.
Another term is Modeling. This is when you show off good
behaviors, hoping others will copy you. At the dinner table, you
use your silverware to eat, not your hands. Right? Your kids
will (sooner or later) do the same partly because you do, partly
because you praise them after they finally pick up a fork
(positive reinforcer, in this case combined with shaping).
Another example is driving the speed limit; a good behavior to
model, especially when teenagers first get behind the wheel.
Getting a driver's license later is a good though delayed
A subset of modeling is cueing. That just means you
provide a hint that something is coming, good or bad, and that
usually stops the child long enough to think first, then behave.
You are prompting the child that other, better behavior should
follow, which resembles modeling. It is just not as formal as
modeling. For example, your child starts to reach for food
with his hands (vs. using silverware). You clear your throat
loudly while raising your eyebrows and looking at the silverware.
The kid gets the idea even though you are not yet eating with
silverware (which would be modeling, formally).
Another term is Classical Conditioning. Remember when
Pavlov (the Russian physiologist) rang a bell and then gave a
dog some food (meat powder), which made the dog salivate?
Pavlov did this over and over with the same dog and soon the dog
would salivate just to the sound of the bell, anticipating the
food. Well, in my office I do not do much of this, because it
is hard to get children to sit still long enough to listen to
bells and search for food. However, the principle is good and
illustrates that when good or bad reinforcers follow stimuli,
the behaviors increase or decrease, respectively, no matter what
the time, place or event. Telling or showing people what is
coming before it occurs is training them to react positively to
the anticipated event.
These are some of the many terms parents should know.
No, we psychologists do not treat kids like dogs or rats, but
believe it or not, we all apply these principles every day in
every relationship we have. In the office, we just formalize
some of this so that the child gets a different set of
reinforcers, cues, etc. I have detailed this and much more on
how to change children's behavior in my publications.