Shaping Behaviour in Children

  • Uncategorized

ShapingBehaviour in Children

ShapingBehaviour in Children

Thereis a general consensus that behaviour is typically shaped by anindividual’s environment which includes the people and situationsan individual interacts with (Bustamante,et al., 1996). Parents andcaregivers are perpetually making efforts to ensure that theirchildren are in their best behaviour possible. This is so becausechildren everywhere are prone to outburst and throwing tantrums inthe worst of times for example in a shopping mall when everyone iswatching. Is there a reason not to worry anymore? Luckily, there isone parents and caregivers do not have to deal with these flare-upssince they can shape their children right from the beginning.

Operantconditioning a behavioural theory proposed by B.F. Skinner is atheory that proposes that behaviour can be shaped and maintainedthrough the reward of positive behaviour. Every time a desiredbehaviour is acquired it is rewarded to ensure the re-occurrence ofthe same behaviour (Staddon, &amp Cerutti, 2003). A child whorefuses to make his/her bed can be motivated to do it if he/shereceives a token of appreciation each time he/she makes the bed. Most parents as children were exposed to reinforcement for desiredbehaviour and they employ the same on their children. In my opinion,trends have changed as our children are faced by a different set ofenvironmental characteristics as opposed to what our parents faced.This fact complicates the task of eliciting desired behaviour makingit an uphill task.

Childrenare initially excited when they know that they will receive tokens oncompletion of tasks especially in their formative years. However itcomes a time especially teenage years when this reinforcement becomesboring and so routine that children no longer find pleasure in it.Parents are reduced to corrupt individuals who bribe their childrento get work done and this implies negatively on the children sincethey may end up blackmailing the parents in order to perform a task(Schlicher, `2016).This therefore annuls the efficiency of operantconditioning as a way of shaping behaviour. How then will we ensurethat desirable behaviours are adhered to? Is there any other way topermanently shape behaviour?


Bustamante,L.,et al. (1996) Cortland Education. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from htttps//

Schlicher,E. (`2016, March). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from Empowering Parents:

Staddon,J.E.R., &ampCerruti,D.T.(2003).Operant Conditioning.Annual Review of Psychology,54,