Notes from the home laboratory: When in doubt, take data!

Note: when you are taking data, it’s a good idea to specify exactly what you are recording (not pictured)

It’s Sunday evening. There’s been a sudden increase in the amount of defiance and quarreling, particularly from my eldest son, age almost-five. I’ve done some ignoring and some mild complaining, made a few threats, but nothing improves. I’m feeling discouraged (and frankly speaking, like a complete hypocrite), so I pick up my notebook.

“I’m going to write down every time I hear someone shout or say “no,” or I see someone hit,” I announce. I am not optimistic that this will help, but at least I will have a record of our misery, and a data point for future comparison.

I say my piece and I sit down on the couch. I write down the date and time, and add some headings to my notebook. No one responds.

I add, “Also, I’m going to write down every time someone does something obedient, or loving, or helpful.”

Immediately, my older son jumps up and gives me a hug. “That’s loving, right?” he crows. He asks if he can record his good deed by himself. He hovers around me, being agreeable, watching the points as they are added to each category.

I glance at the clock and ask,”Ok, it’s snack time, then we will have a bath. What do you want for your snack?”

My older son immediately declares this to be an act of kindness. He rushes over to the notebook to add a point.

#conditionedreinforcers #imitationskillsonpoint #mutualreinforcement #ABAactuallyworks

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