What is Operant Conditioning?
Behavior is broken down into the antecedent (what occurs directly before the behavior), the behavior, and the consequence (what occurs directly following the behavior). Operant conditioning is the modification of behavior by using a consequence that is received immediately following a specific behavior. A behavior is either reinforced (increased) or punished (decreased). This can be done in a structured setting but also occurs naturally and unintentionally in everyday events.
Our Approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
Operant conditioning is used to increase appropriate behaviors in children and decrease inappropriate behaviors. Applied behavior analysts utilize token systems and reinforcement plans to increase appropriate behaviors such as eye contact, social skills, verbal behavior, pre-academic and academic skills, and other behaviors. Behavior intervention plans decrease inappropriate behaviors such as verbal aggression, physical aggression, property destruction, self-injurious behaviors, and other unwanted behaviors. These plans are written after determining the function of the behavior (e.g. to seek attention, to gain a tangible, to escape, or to self-stimulate). Determining the function of the behavior allows us to assist in developing and applying an appropriate behavior intervention strategy.