Education Technique #1
Education Technique #1: High Probability Response
I am philosophically committed to trying to minimize the use of exclusionary or aversive techniques to the extent reasonable in a child’s life. I offer this technique as an alternative to “time-out”.
The use of a high probability response uses the idea of behavioral momentum. This is the general observation that the types of behavior we engage in tends to continue in the same direction for a time. Off task or inappropriate behavior tends to precede more off task behaviors, and on task behavior tends to precede more on task behavior.
The technique here, involves the attempt to disrupt the chain or hierarchy of inappropriate behaviors and start a new chain of appropriate behaviors. The teacher/parent would deliver rapid instructions using a lesson or modality the child has already shown mastery of. The moment the child in only engaging in appropriate behavior, they are redirected back to the task. Skillful users of this technique can usually have a child back into the regular activity in less than a minute, although that is not always the case.
The activity should be something the child has mastered and that can be done quickly. But it should not be a highly preferred activity. It not supposed to be reinforcing or soothing, or aversive for that matter; it is supposed to be neutral. The idea is redirection. The idea is catch the child as they head “downhill” in terms of behavior and quickly build up some momentum in a positive direction. And then to get them back into their regular activity as quickly as possible.