Behavior Modification: Definition And Techniques

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Behavior Modification

Behavior Modification can be defined as methods or ways used to reduce or improve a certain type of conduct. These methods are widely used by us all; it’s mainly used by parents to teach their children in a way to know what is good or bad. Behavior modification can be used in many ways also, it is used to promote healthy behavior by therapist, pet training; where the owner of pet or trainer develops obedience between the owner and a pet, it can also be used in a relationship with friends and important members. A good example of behavior modification is what happens when being punished as a child, why do parents punish their children? This is not because they enjoyed punishing us or hate us, they are only trying to bring us up in the right ways

Behavior modification also gives an idea that good conduct should lead to positive results and bad conduct should lead to negative results. Behavior modification can also be used to change one’s thought to lead to a healthy life either by therapists or gym instructors.

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ORIGIN OF BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION: This is based on the concept of conditioning, conditioning is a learning form.CLASSICAL CONDITIONING: These depend on a certain motive or signal, that is what a family or member of a family do daily. For example, family members together in the kitchen regularly to cook particular dishes because of the interesting taste.OPERATING CONDITIONING: These involve using a particular way of rewarding or punishments. You reward a child or a pet with a special treat whenever they obey a command. E.g. parent will tell a child when you came first in class I will buy you a video game or a bicycle.

Behavior Modification Techniques

  • Positive Reinforcement: This is like operating conditionings where you give positive encouragement to a child for good conduct to ensure the child continue with good behavior. It is a good and most fruitful way is of shaping behavior because of it the most pleasing. Examples are; letting a child to play a favorite video game when the child must have done his homework without contending; a child studies hard all through the term and got excellent marks in a difficult subject. You take the child out for a movie or dinner.
  • Negative Reinforcement: This is the contrary method of removing a negative stimulus or signal. Negative reinforcement is taking unpleasing things away to encourage good conduct. For example; you nag a child every day before he or she gets something done. On a particular day, the child decided to get it done to avoid being a nag, a child complains every morning when going to school, the father decided to on the radio and loud it to avoid the child complaint. The next time the child does not complain because he doesn’t want to listen to the radio.
  • Positive Punishment: If you give a negative action in answer to negative behavior, this is a positive punishment being used. Leaving a child to suffer for his negative behavior. Examples; when a child messes up his or her room after telling them to always keep their room tidy, you give them additional works to do, your child came home from school using unaccepted language. You have them write 200 sentences saying I will not use such languages again.
  • Negative Punishment: with this kind of punishment a particular is being taken away in consequence to negative behavior. E.g. taken away a child’s video game if the assignment not completely is done. For example; detaching a child completely from activities or environment he enjoys in response to negative behavior, a child throes an outburst of anger and you ignore him to withdraw all curiosity from him or her.
  • Flooding: This simply means exposing people to invoking situations diligently and quickly. Engaging someone with fear to make them behave in a certain way. For example; scare a child with fear of snake because he didn’t like snakes to make the child behave well for some minutes.
  • Systematic Desensitization: This often used to treat fear of something (phobias) and it involves teaching a client to remain calm while focusing on these fears. For example, someone with a phobia for height might start by looking at a photo of a mountain or high places, then thinking about standing on the mountain and finally walking on the real mountain.
  • Aversion Therapy: this is the cutting off of an unpleasing signal to unwanted conduct to stop that behavior. To stop a certain conduct or action of people biting their nails, a substance is painted on nails to make them stop.


There so many circumstances behavior modification techniques work for. When choosing these techniques you must think about the behavior you wish to modify, the method that will work best and choose a behavior modification plan


  1. Amy Morin, LCSW (Updated November 06, 2019)
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