Monday, August 16, 2010

Developmental delays - Behaviorism SDT and CPS

I have a very strong bias against behaviorism as my learning is driven by the writings of Alfie Kohn UP= unconditional parenting and Ross Greene – CPS. I also have meager knowledge of behaviorism
Daniel suggested where the child is too low functioning , the most efficient way to improve the child is perhaps through behaviorism.

We could make use of behaviorism in cases where the child's self is not developed to a point that the child is able to self-regulate '.

SDT is not only a ' motivational ' theory , it is also a ' learning and development ' theory . When kids autonomy and relatedness are supported , we facilitate competence , development , growth and creativity and learning. SDT is in fact shares constructivist principles and imho does a much better job in promoting learning of lacking skills than behaviorism.

The CPS - collaborative problem solving approach is a non behaviorist approach for parents , teachers and other care givers dealing with challenging kids. It conforms with SDT principles by supporting kids autonomy by focusing first on their concerns and encouraging them to be the ' genius' in coming up with solutions. The CPS process promotes many of the lacking cognitive skills – competence . Because the process is collaborative and the child also takes perspectives and addresses the concerns of others we have ' relatedness'.

Daniel - I am not quite sure what you mean by behaviorism.

I understand the claim that kids emotional and cognitive states may be chaotic and need some external structure to deal with the world. This means providing rules with rewards and consequences , levels of points, token economies etc which provide structure and reinforce behaviors.

Now motivational strategies don't teach skills. They rest on the premise that children do well if they want to and we must make them want to .

The PBIS -Positive behavior intervention system - a behaviorist approach acknowledges that kids challenges may be due to lacking skills and do provide skills training in a very top down manner .

Now it is possible to provide structure without rewards and punishments and one can teach skills not in a top-down manner , but in a collaborative way and putting the missing skills into the context of the child's concerns and unsolved problems.

CPS trains skills mostly indirectly using Plan B - collaborative problem solving. The approach is very constructivist , that kids learn when they make meaning and construct knowledge . Unlike PBIS , kids are not empty pails who are filled with knowledge and drilled to learn skills.

We do take into account the developmental age of the child , but that does not mean we can be respectful to toddlers , try to see the world through their eyes , and support their autonomy with our questions. For the developmentally challenged child , the parent acts as a ' surrogate frontal lobe ' taking the child through the thinking process. Not only does the child learn skills but there are also changes taking place in the brain – neuro-plasticity . Dr Greene says that kids at 3 years of age have sufficient vocabulary to participate in problem solving.

We don't need to compensate the child's developmental delay of the ' self' and his ability to self regulate with rewards and punishments , we can promote development by working with the child

Rewards and punishments at best can make a kid look good and unfortunately can trigger the inappropriate behaviors that the extrinsic motivation is trying to deal with. SDT imho does make a place for extrinsic motivations where they are self determined or the kid feels that they help him to achieve certain goals.

Behaviorism has impressive results with ABA , training animals to do tricks etc but my gut feeling it is the same process , the kids feelings, concerns , opinions don't really count. We can teach animals to jump and do pretty tricks but remove the scaffolding, the controls they revert back to the old behaviors. check the answers on FBAs and PBIS

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