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Understanding Behavior

Understanding Behavior

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Understanding Behavior

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  1. Understanding Behavior LARRY SCOTT Ken-Ton School District lscott2@kenton.k12.ny.us

  2. Agenda • Bullying • Brain & Behavior • Behavior Theory • Triggers, Function, & Consequences • Punishment • Case Scenarios • Inattention / Hyperactivity • Attention-Seeking Behavior • Defiance / Noncompliance • Communicating with Defiant Students • Positive Approaches, Meaningful Incentives, & Tips

  3. Bullying • Intentional, usually repeated acts of verbal, physical, or written aggression by a peer (or group) operating from a position of strength or power with the goal of hurting the victim physically or damaging status and/or social reputation

  4. Bullying vs. Teasing vs. Conflict • Teasing: good-natured “give & take” between friends designed to get both parties to laugh • Conflict: A struggle, dispute, and/or misunderstanding between 2 opposing forces • Bullying: Based on power imbalance, taunting another with intent of harming; continues when other is distressed

  5. Victims of Bullying • Have a position of relative weakness • Most are passive • Experience emotional distress- anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem • In some instances can respond with extreme violence • GLBT youth most at-risk

  6. Those Who Bully • Desire power & control • Get satisfaction over others’ suffering • More exposed to physical punishment at home • Average self-esteem, BUT more likely to be depressed & feel less supported by others • Engage in other risky behaviors

  7. Bully Prevention in School • Structured, Supportive, & Supervised Environments • Clear, consistent policies on harassment, including means of reporting • Immediate action with intervention not just punishment • Warmth, positive interest, adult involvement & appreciation of individual differences • Ongoing social development programs • Programs & opportunities to connect with all students

  8. State Legislation and Bullying 2012- Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) • Prohibits harassment of students based on race, weight, religion, national origin, ethnic group, sexual orientation, disability, gender, & sex 2013- Amendment to DASA • Requires schools to act when cyberbullying occurs

  9. Brain & Behavior • Over time our brains have evolved- new features have been added and old ones discarded as a result of social consequences, in order to better solve social problems • We have DNA encoded with information for innate behaviors. Babies are not born with blank brains (expects faces at birth, reasoning with animate/inanimate objects, crying to express needs) • Our brains are preprogrammed to express social behavior regardless of culture

  10. Brain & Behavior • Nature and nurture: genetic components interact with various environmental influences and shape brain development/functioning • A carrier of a particular set of genes is associated with an 882% probability of committing a violent crime and 98.4% chance of being on death row • Children with particular genetic material are more likely to develop conduct disorders and become violent criminals as adults. This outcome is much more likely if these children were abused • Children with the opposite genetic material were not likely to repeat the cycle of violence even if severely maltreated

  11. Brain & Behavior • The brain has countless rivaling operations each competing for a single output of our behavior. • A balance is optimal for the brain and behavior. Rational System Emotional System vs

  12. Emotional vs. Rational Emotional System • Involves internal states • Emotional system is evolutionarily old and shared with other species • Emotional circuitry of the brain is associated with immediate reward and impulsive behavior (i.e. drug addiction) Rational System • Involves analysis of external events • Rational system is more recent and is one unique characteristic that separates us from other species • Rational system consists of the lateral cortex circuitry associated with higher cognition and delaying gratification for longer-term rewards with higher return

  13. Brain & Behavior • Brain Plasticity • Critical Periods: Birth to 5 & Puberty • Between approximately 10 to 18 months of age is critical for shaping of brain for attachments & emotional regulation • Brain is made up of countless neural circuits which govern behavior and habits

  14. Brain & Behavior • Bad habits take over neural circuits in the brain • The more a bad habit is practiced the more space it occupies on a neural circuit, creating less space for good habits • Makes unlearning more challenging than learning • The more habitual and automatic a behavior the more complex and specialized the neural circuitry and the less conscious awareness • Early education and intervention

  15. Brain & Behavior Prefrontal Cortex- Executive Functioning • Regulates attention/emotion, planning, organization, self-monitoring, and foreseeing/understanding consequences • Students with attention and emotional difficulty, usually have poor executive functioning Studies: • Emotionally supportive environments with meaningful praise, affection, & sensitivity better self-regulation • Emotionally neglectful environments poor self-regulation • Children with a history of trauma & emotional neglect often have dysfunction in prefrontal cortex • Middle school

  16. Brain & Behavior • Evidence that behavior modification, talk therapy (counseling), & medication can change brain chemistry / functioning • Extrinsic motivation can change brain chemistry and increase intrinsic motivation over time • Psychotherapy: leads to decreased activation in prefrontal cortex (less blood flow) in patients who suffer from past trauma and/or anxiety • Depression, high stress, & trauma are associated with a smaller hippocampus and memory loss. Antidepressants have been found to mature hippocampus- increase neural circuitry

  17. Behavioral Theory • All behavior serves a function or purpose. • All behavior functions within a system – environment, setting, or situation. • Environmental/situational factors create and maintain problem behavior. • By changing environmental factors and responses to behavior, it is believed that problem behavior can be replaced with pro-social behavior. • Behavior- internal & external control

  18. Factors Influencing Behavior Media/ Electronics Emotional Functioning Student Characteristics Education Policies / Funding Peer Influence Physical Health Mental Health Needs Family Issues Teaching Style / Classroom Practices Cognitive and Academic Functioning Sleep

  19. Picture Yourself and Your Own Behavior • Do I behave differently in certain situations and settings? • Do I perform better in certain situations and settings?

  20. Target Behaviors • Specifically identify two or three of the most problematic behaviors that you want to change. • Must be well-defined, observable, and measurable. • Be objective and avoid opinion statements and personal feelings. • The “stranger test” • Ex. – Johnny is violent

  21. ABC’s of Problem Behavior Antecedents to behavior – triggers, type of setting/situation Behavior Consequence to behavior – not always negative and punitive.

  22. Function of Behavior • Sensory/Perceptual • Gain Desired Item, Activity, Area • Escape/Avoidance • Attention/Control CONTROL

  23. Replacement Behavior • Sometimes inappropriate behavior is due to not having learned a particular skill (i.e. raising hand to participate) • Learning a new skill / behavior can replace an unwanted or inappropriate behavior • The replacement behavior serves the same function as the inappropriate behavior and should be positively reinforced when it occurs • Examples

  24. Important Behavioral Terms • Positive Reinforcement: A response to behavior that increases expected/positive behavior. • Negative Reinforcement: A response to behavior that increases negative behavior. • Punishment: A response to behavior that decreases negative behavior.

  25. Punishment “You can never punish anyone into being motivated, corrected, or coming to school.” Dr. Randy Sprick

  26. Punishment & Suspension • There is no evidence that suspension works- it has been shown to be ineffective in changing behavior and often only worsens behavior • Long-term suspension leads to negative attitudes toward school, poor attendance / work performance, and negative perception of teachers • Suspension is associated with increased defiance, more severe problem behavior, school failure and drop out, and contact with the juvenile justice system

  27. Punishment & Suspension • Black and malestudents are historically overrepresented in suspensions and expulsions • Males are at least twiceas likely to be suspended and expelled • Many studies show inequality in disciplinary responses and consequences: Black and malestudents are more likely to be suspended and more harshly for similar offenses • 66% of blackmalestudents who received free/reduced lunch and were in special education were suspended at least once, only 2% of white females who paid for lunch and in regular ed. were suspended (Raffaele Mendez, 2003)

  28. Punishment Precautions • Never punish for behavior that a student can’t help or has limited or no control over • Non-punitive techniques alone can improve behavior • Punishment such as isolation/seclusion (i.e. time-out) should be avoided

  29. Missouri’s Rehabilitation Model • U.S. Juvenile Confinement Rate • About 48,000 U.S. youth placed in correctional or residential facility as juvenile delinquent each night (2010) • Missouri has rehabilitation model with continuum of services (day treatment centers, group homes, and residential centers) • Includes small, therapeutic facilities with daily counseling, accredited schooling with special education, job training or community jobs, and transition services • 84-88% of youth are engaged in a job or school upon release each year • Recidivism rate= 16.2% (3 years) compared to 26-62% in other states • Confinement without rehabilitation is not only financially wasteful, but detrimental to society

  30. Effective Punishment • Pair with positive reinforcement • Reduction or loss of privileges • Implemented in way that instruction is not missed (i.e. lunch detention, time away in classroom) • Serve extra time • Allow student to help determine punishment • MUST be MEANINGFUL to student • Restitution • We need to explore alternative approaches proven to work: cognitive-behavioral and restorative justice

  31. Volition • Do we choose our genes? Do we choose the environment we grow up in? • Given the influence of genetics, childhood experiences, environmental toxins (i.e. lead), hormones, neurotransmitters, and neural circuitry, our level of absolute free will (volition) is a relevant issue for debate • Much of our legal system and discipline methods assume that all acts are volitional, and therefore, punishment, alone, and holding one responsible will modify future behavior • Attempting to understand and uncover reasons for problem behavior does not equal excusing one’s action and absolve from blame

  32. Volition • Lawyers and clinicians have historically agreed that neurological disorders, where biological evidence for a problem exists, often absolves an individual of volition • With advances in science, the clinical community now recognizes mental disorders as biological or organic problems • Although we can’t always detect a neurobiological problem, it is safe to assume that brain dysfunction exists in some of our most severe criminals

  33. Brain Dysfunction & Anti-Social Behavior • Brain Tumor/Dementia • Tourettes Syndrome • Homicidal Sommambulism • Phineas Gage • Huntington’s Disease • Viral & Bacterial Infections

  34. Evidence-Based Consequences • Through advances in neuroscience and behavior we may better understand who is likely to commit or not commit crime again • The objective is to establish more logical / evidence-based sentencing that will customize rehabilitation for those that can be modified and maintain confinement for those who cannot • Intervention might focus on the plasticity of the prefrontal cortex and poor impulse control (most people know right from wrong and understand consequences, but some have an inability to control impulses) • Effective approaches require that we not only understand how we would like people to behave, but how they actually behave

  35. Approaches to Students with Emotional & Behavioral Needs • Incentives: Earning positive social experience • Good Behavior Sports Club • Connections Program • Engaging parents • Community support • Activity & Exercise • Yoga & Meditation • Behavior Contract • Daily/Weekly Behavior Report

  36. Students with Emotional & Behavioral Needs • More likely to have disciplinary problems, low grades, poor attendance, & run-ins with the law • About 10% of students cause 90% of disciplinary problems • Have difficulty building & maintaining relationships- TRUST • Prone to disorganization and poor work completion • Sensitive to reprimands & being held accountable- usually leads to more resistance • Negative emotions interfere with attention & decision making. Increases impulsive actions which may relieve emotional distress temporarily • Any action that causes negative emotion in a student is more likely to increase defiance/resistance

  37. Internalizing & Externalizing Problems • Internalizing Problems: high anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, poor self-identity, socially awkward • Externalizing Problems: hyperactivity, aggression, conduct problems, disruptive, defiant

  38. Challenges to Changing Behavior • Poor collaboration and follow through from home. • Poor collaboration and follow through with community-based professionals. • Severe mental illness that is untreated or mistreated. • Substance abuse and illegal activity. • Resistance to trust

  39. Off-task Behavior (ADHD) • ADHD effects about 2-10% of kids, more common in boys (about 10%) than girls (about 4%) • Over-diagnosed & often misdiagnosed • Neurobiological evidence that it exists • Associated with disciplinary problems, poor academic performance, substance abuse, and dropping out of school, risky sexual behavior, and future criminal behavior

  40. Off-task Behavior (ADHD) • Difficulty paying attention / Short attention-span • Distractible (internal & external) • Poor self-regulation of emotion, attention, planning, and behavior • Disorganization • Usually struggle with writing

  41. A Neurological Understanding of ADHD • Parts of the brain involved in attention are found to be smaller and underactive • Prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and basal ganglia are found to play a major role • Dopamine & serotonin (neurotransmitter) • Antidepressants & Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have shown to improve impulsivity and aggression

  42. Prefrontal Cortex: Executive Functioning • CEO of the brain • Regulates attention/emotion, working memory, planning, organization, self-monitoring, and foreseeing/understanding consequences • Students with attention and emotional difficulty, usually have poor executive functioning • Children with a history of trauma & emotional neglect often have dysfunction in prefrontal cortex • Middle school

  43. Media and ADHD • A large study found that exposure to TV (ages 1-3) is associated with attention problems and controlling impulses later in childhood For every hour watched each day, their chances of developing attention problems increased 10% • Addiction to computer / video games show similar brain functioning and behaviors as other addictions

  44. ADHD Types

  45. Inattention • Fails to give close attention to details / makes careless mistakes • Has difficulty keeping attention on tasks • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly • Does not follow through on directions and fails to finish school work or other duties • Has difficulty organizing tasks/activities • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort • Often loses toys, assignments, and materials needed for tasks • Is easily distracted • Is often forgetful in daily activities