One of the first steps in addressing behavior problems is to learn about the functions of behavior examples. A well-established theory of child development, developmental psychology, and educational psychology maintains that children learn through experience and that certain aspects of child development – such as relating to their environment, following a pattern or doing a prescribed action – are learned through repeated exposure. In fact, many parents find that their children mimic their parents’ behaviors, especially when these behaviors are motivated by positive reinforcement (i.e., using rewards), whereas other types of learning are not so easy to imitation.
In this framework, behaviors are considered “reactions” to an environmental stimulus that elicit a particular response from the organism. The functions of behavior examples thus relate to determining the nature and strength of a particular response to an individual or group of stimuli. For instance, did you know that eye contact is a strong measure of trustworthiness and non-aggression toward others? Does your non-verbal communication indicate your level of caring about the feelings and needs of your peers?
Functions of behavior examples further help us understand how certain antecedent conditions (such as tone of voice, body language, nonverbal cues, or a specific set event) can facilitate or deter certain behaviors. Thus, a clear example of a function would be the readiness to comply with a parent’s directions for potty training when we know that such instruction is coming ahead. In the same way, knowing that a particular set event has taken place will serve as a cue for establishing appropriate antecedent events and corresponding behaviors.
Let’s look at an example using math as an illustration. When peers tease each other during the school day, most kids pick up the clues and adapt their actions to fit the description of what they think their peers have said. But if the teasing takes place during a math class, then the kid(s) who have been targeted by the teasing will not have an easy time figuring out what they should have done.
A clear example of a function of behavior is: If I know that my peers are going to tease me during math class, I will do my best to get ready and focus on what I need to do to score well on my test. Here is another example, this time of a routine: I know that my teacher is going to start our math homework at a certain time, so I prepare myself mentally by thinking about what I need to do to score well on my tests.
How do these examples serve as valuable functions of behavior examples? Well, they help us understand why certain patterns of behavior tend to be more common than others. Moreover, by showing us how the routine in question tends to work, these examples let us know that it is time to change our behavior in order to create better patterns and thus increase our chances of getting good adult attention. After all, most of us cannot always keep track of all our daily routines, especially those that are consistent with others. This is where examples of behavior can really come in handy.
As mentioned above, there are many functions of behavior examples that can be brought into play when we are struggling with a math problem. For example, by showing an example of problem behavior, it helps us focus on the way that others do behave around us. By focusing on what others do, we can quickly see how to adapt our own behavior to fit the example set out before us. Finally, by showing examples of behavior, it can help us see how to think carefully and deliberately about how we can solve problems. All of this makes for a valuable use of language when talking to students or when grading student work.
Why Is Behaviors Functions of Behavior?
We all have basic instincts and drives, which are the functions of behavior that determine how we act. It’s easy to understand the functions of behavior when you put a dog on a leash and let it roam around in your yard. At first glance the dog just wants to play, sniff, walk and look around. But as he/she gets comfortable with the environment he/she begins to exhibit more detailed behaviours, such as: territory, foraging, searching and playing. Of course these behaviours are totally natural, and the dog is following his/her instincts.
Functions of behavior are nothing special, they are your child’s way of responding to their environment. When your child is afraid of the dark, the dog comes out at night, when your child has tantrums she gets comforted by getting played with by the dog. When the child is searching for something their pet provides them with a whole range of positive reinforcement, including: the food he/she caught, cuddling, and playing with a toy.
It is important to understand the functions of behavior because understanding them can help you provide solutions to your child’s behaviour problems. One way to do this is to reward good behaviour. A punishment for bad behaviour will only teach your child to repeat the undesirable behaviour and not understand why you are disciplining them. A reward will help your child learn what behaviours are desirable and what behaviours aren’t. And by rewarding your child’s good behaviour you reinforce those behaviours.