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Understanding Behavior

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1 Understanding Behavior
LARRY SCOTT Ken-Ton School District

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 Repeated calculated acts for power Verbal & written aggression can be worse/more hurtful

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 Overuse of term, bullying- being used to describe all problem behavior Conflict: Biggest issue we deal with that can misinterpreted to be bullying- best dealt with conflict resolution- all parties- very effective most of the time Bullying: Power & continuing when distress is obvious

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 School shooters are usually victims of bullying

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 Need our help too! Risky behaviors- substance abuse, law breaking

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 Leadership is critical for structured / supportive environments Bullies need a clear, secure means of reporting Punishment/Suspension alone is not effective- leads to more acting out behavior, drop out, & contact with justice system Having a kid on a long-term suspension & then return to school without any other intervention is just delaying another problem Need intervention: Counseling to reduce suspension is a good response Second Step Clubs, Sports, Musicals, & extracurricular activities. Non-academic experiences are critical to engaging resistant 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 TH Question! Questions????

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 Rational 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 TH Question 2! Brain is not fixed, but constantly changing. It can be modified. Becomes more difficult with age, but can be done. Our brains become more difficult to change with age. Strokes & damage to particular areas of brain can be reversed by other parts of brain taking over. Bad Habits are difficult to reverse because of how it shapes brain, but plasticity gives us hope, that with early, intensive intervention we can produce change. Using positive reinforcement can be effective. Address thought that student should just be self-motivated. Proof that external motivation can produce internal change.

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


16 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 TH Question 3!


18 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

19 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 Most behavior, if not all, has to do with control. Each of us want to have sense of internal control (sense of calm, peace, security inside) & external control (environment, interactions, relationships, situations).

20 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

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

22 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

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

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

25 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

26 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.

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

28 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

29 Punishment & Suspension
Black and male students are historically overrepresented in suspensions and expulsions Males are at least twice as likely to be suspended and expelled Many studies show inequality in disciplinary responses and consequences: Black and male students are more likely to be suspended and more harshly for similar offenses 66% of black male students 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)

30 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

31 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


33 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

34 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 1. Realizing serial murders were abused as children and trying to prevent child abuse does not mean we should treat serial murders differently in court

35 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 Response to psychiatric medications is evidence that mental disorders are biological In the past, psychiatric patients were deprived, tortured, told to toughen up, and sometimes understood as being possessed by demons. We know now this is not the case at these approaches were not helpful Drugs aren’t always the answer but evidence shows that they can address psychiatric conditions just as they do diabetes or cancer

36 Brain Dysfunction & Anti-Social Behavior
Brain Tumor/Dementia Tourettes Syndrome Homicidal Sommambulism Phineas Gage Huntington’s Disease Viral & Bacterial Infections With the understanding that our brain functioning impacts our perceptions and behaviors, any changes in brain functioning that our brains are susceptible can alter our perceptions and behaviors, sometimes significantly.

37 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 Psychologists & psychiatrists cannot reliably predict criminal and violent behavior, nor cannot they reliably predict recidivism Adolescents brain and impulse control- knowing right/wrong and consequences in counseling Change from strictly retribution to preventative/proactive policies

38 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 Tangibles Advanced Tech. Club Girls Club FSC SPARK

39 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 Most behavior, if not all, has to do with control. Each of us want to have sense of internal control (sense of calm, peace, security inside) & external control (environment, interactions, relationships, situations). We behave & make particular choices in order to maintain that control- sometimes they are counterproductive.

40 Internalizing & Externalizing Problems
Internalizing Problems: high anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, poor self-identity, socially awkward Externalizing Problems: hyperactivity, aggression, conduct problems, disruptive, defiant IP: Asperger’s kids EP: ADHD, Oppositional & Defiant kids, Conduct Disorder

41 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

42 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

43 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

44 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

45 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 TH Question 3!



48 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 TH Question 3!

49 ADHD Types ADHD Combined (Inattention, Hyperactivity, Impulsivity)
1. ADHD Combined (Inattention, Hyperactivity, Impulsivity) 2. ADHD Predominately Inattentive 3. ADHD Hyperactive-Impulsive

50 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

51 Hyperactivity Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat
Leaves seat when remaining seated is expected Runs about or climbs in inappropriate situations Has difficulty playing quietly Is often “on the go”, acts as if “driven by a motor”, talks excessively

52 Impulsivity Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
Has difficulty waiting turn Interrupts or intrudes on others (butts into conversation or games) Does not think before acting

53 Poor Impulse Control More likely to act for short-term gratification than delaying for more valuable, long-term reward Those with severe impairment fail to resist an impulsive act that may be dangerous to self or others Present an understanding of right/wrong and seriousness of consequences, but cannot regulate impulse with the influence of emotion in the moment We all impulsive thoughts Worksheet 1

54 Tips for Inattention & Hyperactivity
Need others & environment to help self-regulate Break tasks into chunks/separate steps, provide feedback, provide checklist… Close proximity Clear and consistent expectations/routines/consequences with reminders Structured environment with reduced distractions and limits Frequent prompts & reminders- unobtrusive, quiet, nonverbal Seat student near “action zone” Praise/recognize on-task behavior and work completion

55 Tips for Inattention & Hyperactivity
Allow movement breaks Provide alternative motor behavior that will not distract others (gum chewing, stress ball, activity) Have student monitor behavior (i.e. call outs, motor behavior, leaving seat…) IGNORE low level motor behavior Seat near distraction-resistant peers Anticipate potential problems and structure appropriately Daily or Weekly Report with incentive Agenda / Organizer

56 The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder New York Times, December 14, 2013 by Alan Schwarz
CDC: 15% of high school students have a diagnosis Medication use for children has soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990 About 16 million prescriptions were written for adults (ages ) in 2012 2nd most frequent long-term diagnosis closely behind asthma

57 The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder New York Times, December 14, 2013 by Alan Schwarz
Since 2000, FDA has cited every major ADHD med for false & misleading advertising several times: Stimulants: Adderall, Concerta, Focalin, & Vyvanse Nonstimulants: Intuniv & Strattera Sales of stimulant meds were almost $9 billion in 2012

58 The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder New York Times, December 14, 2013 by Alan Schwarz
ADHD has no definitive test: symptoms are highly open to interpretation by patients, parents, and doctors American Psychiatric Association has made the diagnostic criteria more liberal in the DSM V (i.e. must show symptoms before age 12 vs. show impairment from symptoms before age 7) American Psychiatric Association receives significant funding from pharmaceutical companies.

59 The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder New York Times, December 14, 2013 by Alan Schwarz
Studies show that about ½ of diagnosed children do not show impairment as adults Long-term risks of not medically treating ADHD are often cited by big pharma & their representatives, but little is known about whether meds address and reduce these risks (FDA has cited this in many warnings) Presenters on ADHD and those that educate doctors & clinicians on ADHD, are either from pharmaceutical companies or are affiliated with and receive compensation from these companies A 2008, Senate investigation found that a prominent psychiatrist involved in many psychiatric studies, Dr. Joseph Beiderman, received $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug companies

60 The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder New York Times, December 14, 2013 by Alan Schwarz
Marketing has targeted parents Magazine ad for Concerta: “Better test scores at school, more chores done at home, an independence I try to encourage, a smile I can always count on.” In February of 2013, Shire paid $57.5 million in fines for misleading advertising and improper sales of Vyvanse, Adderall, & Daytrana. CHAD (ADHD Advocacy Group) founded in 1987 with financial backing of Ciba-Giegy Pharmaceuticals, Ritalin’s manufacturer & continues to receive about $1 million per year from big pharma.

61 Attention-Seeking Behavior
Children value attention, some desire any attention- positive and negative. Negative adult response (reprimand) can serve the function of attention and negatively reinforce problem behavior.

62 Attention-Seeking Cycle
Reprimand Negative Behavior Negative Behavior Worksheet 1

63 Break Attention-Seeking Cycle
Make eye contact & smile Check-in with student Pat student on shoulder Call on student Praise student (verbal, nonverbal, written) Converse with student Give student a desired task Recognize Positive Behavior

64 Break Attention-Seeking Cycle
Positive attention should be provided as frequently as negative attention seeking behavior occurs May only be required in particular settings and times Ignore negative attention-seeking behavior or in discrete manner redirect student back on-task Fade positive attention as negative behavior reduces or discontinues

65 Brain and Perception Slight differences in brain function translate into different ways of experiencing the world Each of us believes what we perceive is reality The reality we perceive influences how we behave and interact with others Our perceptions are greatly influenced by our social experiences There are many thoughts/functions of the brain that we are unaware of Worksheet 2

66 Noncompliance / Defiance
Defiant students usually have a painful history of rejection in personal relationships Often perceive rejection and view adults as threatening Defiant students often lack effective communication & negotiation skills May act out to mask poor skills and/or insecurities Often choose to defy to avoid/escape tasks and/or to gain control of situations/others The more habitual defiance the more difficult to change

67 Noncompliance / Defiance
Emotional reactions to misbehavior: Risk being reinforcing to some students Risk making timid students afraid of you Provide a terrible model of leadership

68 Noncompliance / Defiance
Conflicts / Power Struggles / Arguments involve at least two parties Be aware of preconceptions- trivial behavior may produce angry / aggressive response and trigger resistance from student Angry reactions (raising voice, appearing angry, or attempting to intimidate) to behavior is negative reinforcement & worsens defiance Defiance can become deliberate strategy Defiant students gain control with each and every angry response from adult Worksheet 1

69 Nonverbal Communication with Defiant Students
Relax and reflect on how you are feeling and will respond Model that you will not be pulled into power struggle Stay outwardly calm, professional, & business-like Low tone of voice Establish eye contact and call student by name Move toward student slowly, respect student’s space, speak privately, & sit nearby student at their level Be aware of nonverbal communication- avoid mismatch with words Describe problem behavior, outline alternative/expected behavior, and praise student for appropriate behavior when possible.

70 Verbal Communication with Defiant Students
State directive in positive manner Use clear and specific terms, but keep it brief Ask open ended questions (avoid WHY questions) Active Listening: summarize a person’s ideas, opinion, or point of view Emotional Labeling: validate student emotion I-Centered Statements Strategic Pauses

71 Communication with Defiant Students
Provide choice with logical consequences Offer student a Face-Saving Out Focus on behavior, while acknowledging that you value student Do not attempt to force a student to comply Avoid demands when student is upset HUMOR

72 Strategies for Defiance / Noncompliance
Allow student a “cool down” break when upset / angry Assign reflective essay or apology after misbehavior and student is calm Consequences- predetermined, fair, consistent Behavior Contract Redirect / Distract student when showing signs of frustration

73 My Tips to Avoid Conflict
Establish relationship Random problem-solving Acknowledge student prior to stating expectation Remove student from audience Simple nonverbal communication Time-away techniques

74 Meaningful Incentives
Choose music for class to hear Eat lunch with a friend in the classroom (with teacher) Eat lunch outside with entire class Enjoy time outside with entire class Shoot baskets with an adult and/or with peer Computer time Assist a custodian or other staff Be first in lunch line Eat lunch with teacher, counselor, and/or principal

75 Meaningful Incentives
Eat lunch with an invited adult (grandparent, parent, etc…) Positive note, , or phone call home Be helper for lower grade level Make deliveries in school Receive a note of recognition from teacher or principal Receive private praise from teacher or principal Receive silent thumbs up or other sign indicating praise and approval

76 Homework Tips 2 methods to increase homework completion:
Establish a consistent weekly schedule for homework Physically collect homework from each student

77 References Doidge, N. (2007), The Brain that Changes Itself.
Gresham, F. M. (1992). Conceptualizing behavior disorders in terms of resistance to intervention. School Psychology Review, 20, Eagleman, D. (2011), Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act – Amendments to Rules of the Board of Regents and Regulations of the Commissioner of Education (NYS), Part (r), June 23, 2006. Nickerson, A., Director of Alberti Center for the Prevention of Bullying Abuse & School Violence, University of Buffalo Ratey J. (2008), Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise & the Brain Sprick, R. Safe & Civil Schools. Willingham, D. (2011). Can Teachers Increase Students’ Self-Control? American Educator. Willingham, D. ( ). Understanding ADHD. American Educator. Wright, J. (2006). Schwarz, A. (2013). The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder. New York Times

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