The way of learning set forth in Thorndike’s Law of Effect plus the work of B.F. Skinner with the exceptional followers is among the most behavioral perspective most extensively put on to children’s disorders. Operant, or instrumental, conditioning emphasizes the results of behavior. Behavior is acquired or reduced, is emitted in most circumstances yet not in others, through reinforcement, extinction, punishment, and also other learning processes (see Table 3-1). As for classical conditioning, many efforts created from operant conditioning have dedicated to the treatment as opposed to the etiology of disordered behavior.
Williams’s (1959) set of altering a twenty-one-month-old child’s tantrums is surely an early, oft-cited demonstration of the use of these principles for treatment of childhood disorders. Following a long illness the little one had developed severe tantrums. It was assumed the parents have been reinforcing this behavior by taking care of it. For example, your child’s screaming because the parents left his bedroom was reinforced by their vacationing in the room. After determining that there were no medical problems, a plan of removing the reinforcement to the tantrum behavior (extinction) was begun. After leisurely putting your child to bed, the parents or guardians left and failed to reenter the surrounding. Although your child cried for forty-five minutes the 1st night, with the tenth occasion he no more fussed when left alone. No negative unwanted effects occurred, and a child was reported to become well-adjusted at 36 months of age.
The principles of operant conditioning have increasingly been placed on a broad choice of difficult and sophisticated problems, and treatments procedures themselves became more varied and complicated. The specific applications of these procedures will likely be discussed over the succeeding chapters of the book. They all share the assumption this problem behavior might be changed by having a learning process, and that this focus of treatment needs to be on the aftermaths of behavior.
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