Targeted individual whose behavior I want to change

I have always strived to teach my son on how they should gain certain behaviors. As a mother I interact frequently with my son since I am his care giver and guardian. My son has been developing this behavior of defecating on his pants or in his diapers.  This is a common behavior that has been happening time after the other and since am not pleased and he is turning three years and joining school very soon I think that the behavior of defecting on his pants and diapers needs to change for his own advantage in school. On the other hand, I understand that diapers are a little bit expensive and washing his defected pants all the time a little bit time consuming therefore if he strives to change his behavior to a common use of the bathroom will save him a big disadvantage.

If the behavior of defecting on his pants and diapers changes to a significant behavior of using the behavior it will require a lot of efforts and rewards. Behavior shaping requires the inclusion of  reward and at the same time reinforcement and punishment; and for my son to understand and change his behavior from defecting on his parts to using the bathroom, it is important I consider the effective approaches of developing good habits.  In other words, by using the rewards in shaping my sons behavior in each and every step then the behavior is molded into the specific form.  Punishment will only be applied if the stressed or discouraged behavior does not change. Therefore in overall analysis, the behavior I want to change includes my son stopping to defect on his pants and diapers. The desired behavior will be to use the bathroom rather than considering defecting on the diapers. .

Conditioning plan

MondayDefecting on diapers is not encouragedUses the bathroomPositive reinforcement, Given something good, given attention and treat
TuesdayDefecting on diapers  is discouragedDefects on his diapers Taken away the gift and attention  not provided (Negative punishment(
WednesdayDefecting on diapers discouraged  Defects on the pants  Positive punishment(provided something bad a bump on the nose, takes him to toilet
ThursdayDefecting on pants is not encouragedDefects on diapersNegative reinforcement no bumping on the nose   and failing to take the son to the bathroom
Fridaydefecting on pants not encouragedUses the bathroomPositive reinforcement ( given something good, treat, and attention

Description of the organism reactions to the administered consequence

On Monday the son was in a position to use the bathroom after I said that he should use the bathroom. Attention and reward was provided and definitely he was in a position to use the bathroom.

On Tuesday he fails to use the bathroom and defects on his pants, and I told him that defecting on pants was discouraged. I showed him the gift and did not reward it but I provided attention to him.

On Wednesday he still defects on his pants and I tell him that the behavior is discouraged, I did not reward him neither did I give him attention.

On Thursday, he defects on his pants and I tell him that the behavior was discouraged; I bumped his nose and took him to the bathroom.

Finally on Friday, he uses the bathroom without being told and I rewarded him.  

Provided with the conditioning plan as illustrated on the above table, indicates the behaviors of the child as a result of initiating change to use the bathroom. In the first day; as a result of being rewarded he used the bathroom, the behavior changed on the second day where he did not use the bathroom and he was discouraged and not offered any reward. On The third day positive punishment was applied to make the son understand that the behavior was still not encouraged and the forth day a negative punishment was provided to make him aware that the behavior was totally discouraged. He changed his behavior on Friday and used the bathroom and he was rewarded. According to the table above, indicates that within the five days provided the behavior does not occur on routine basis, there is change in behavior. And every change of behavior the son is given a different consequence.

What I learned about operant conditioning and shaping in this exercise

I have learnt that the operant conditioning provides a significant approach on how we can change our children behavior to the behavior we desire. In this way if the child was rewarded as a result of showing good behavior, there is a probability that he might develop the good behavior (positive reinforcement).  This explains that the reward will act as a motivator to the child towards good behavior. Without the inclusion of a reward the child will not continue with the same behavior. Therefore, I learnt that it is important to reward a child in order to encourage him to develop significant behavior. On the other hand, if a child misbehaves negative reinforcement is supposed to used that will assist the child to learn or develop good behavior. Additionally if punishment is done to the child he or she will less likely repeat the behavior again. Therefore, applying both the positive and negative consequences can have an impact in changing the behavior of a child. Therefore, using the operant conditioning will assist in enhancing the child’s behavior because the child is in a position to understand behaviors that are good are rewarded while punishment is incurred to bad behaviors.

What I didn’t know at the beginning of the process

At the beginning of the process, I never knew the consequence that worked more effectively between punishment and reinforcement.  I came to understand that they both function but on different perspective. “If you stop defecting on your diapers or pants I will give you a reward” this is a positive reinforcement that strives to show that the kid will be awarded if he does good behavior. On the other hand, punishment can lead to some problems as compared to the reinforcement. I also came to understand that a child should be punished if he repeats on the behavior discouraged but if harshness is exacted anger or fear might develop in that child (Nicholas 2009). On the other hand, punishment demonstrates to the child which behavior should be applied and which behaviors are encouraged.


Nicholas L (2009) Introduction to psychology; Juta and Company Publisher

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