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As teachers we often focus on the behavior, waiting for it to occur and then provide consequences that will strengthen or weaken the behavior.

Can you think of examples of this with your students?

  • On the side of trying to increase behavior, maybe you compliment a child when he uses a creative word
  • You may award a star or points for children who are helpful or kind to each other in class
  • You award prizes for creative science projects

Sometimes you try and decrease behavior with consequences:

  • You take away five minutes of recess because the class was disruptive
  • You prompt a child to sit in the time out chair for 2 minutes after she ran in class during free play

As part of our arsenal of behavior change techniques, consequences (often called reinforcers or punishers) can be quite effective. However, they have limitations that are important to note:

  • You must wait for the behavior to occur. This may be unsuitable or inconvenient if you are not around all the time to see the behavior when it does occur
  • Target behaviors may occur rarely or never.


(C) 2001 J. Tyler Fovel, All Rights Reserved