Be incompatible!




Have you ever had your kid do something just to make sure he didn’t do something else?  ”Here buddy, hold onto this” (so you wont grab me with those dirty hands).  There is some science behind this that is important to talk about.

In the world of behavior analysis, this kind of thing is called “differential reinforcement of an incompatible behavior” or a DRI procedure. This can be a fun and effective tool, so its worth sharing.

Lets first melt it down: basically what this means is to get make a certain behavior less likely, you ask for and reward a behavior that is completely incompatible with the one you don’t want to happen.  

Some examples:

The kid in the picture: if cheered for hanging on, he is less likely to kick the soccer balls below while they are cleaned up (the two behaviors cannot happen at the same time).

Little Jimmy can’t run from me in the store if I teach him to push the cart and praise him for it.  Mary cannot scratch her neighbor if she is receives special attention for holding onto her class calendar with both hands.  Sarah cannot run to the dinner if she is praised for her job of carrying the milk without spilling to the table.  John will not be as likely to yell the answer if he is praised for whispering (and the question is whispered to him).  

I recently talked about some of the “incompatible” things I did with my own son in the grocery store including talking to him about seemingly nonsense topics because when engaged with me he is looking at me and talking to me about bananas…not looking down the cookie aisle and screaming for more “chochy chip cookies.”

Another good example is something I mentioned in a Facebook post in reference to the Parking Pal Magnet.  You teach the child to put their hand on the magnet, which is incompatible with running into traffic.  Make sense?

The effect 

The benefit comes in that the reward for one behavior (praise for holding on) can overpower the reward of the other (kicking the balls into the net).  He can always let go and kick the balls, but now the attention is for hanging on, and THAT is more fun than kicking the balls would be.

Think about this when you are trying to figure out how to stop something, because a lot of the time it is not just about stopping something, it is about starting something in its place.  

What would make that behavior impossible?  

Let me know your examples of “incompatible” behavior either through the website or the Facebook page (click the Facebook bandaid at the top of the screen).

What do you think? Reply here

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