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Identifying Influences on Behavior.

Hi Debbie,

I am having trouble finding information on identifying 3 risk factors which influence behavior (may include considerations of brain development). I also need to know how each factor influences behavior. Could you explain to me how teachers analyze strategies that they may use to support the process of changing or replacing behaviors?

Thanks, Mary

Kaiser, B., Rasminsky, J. S. (2012). Challenging behavior in young children: Understanding, preventing, and responding effectively (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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One type of behavior often seen at the early childhood level is attention/avoidance motivated challenging behavior. Children who display this type of challenging behavior prefer playing alone and may act out if a teacher or someone else approaches them. They may act out by flailing their arms, running away or by becoming aggressive. This kind of behavior may lead teachers to leave the child alone to play by themselves in order to avoid challenging behavior instead of encouraging the behavior to change (McEvoy, Reichle & Davis, 1995). Another idea is to look at the reasons the child prefers playing alone. There is one particular learning style also, called intrapersonal, where certain children choose to work alone rather than relying on others.

Another behavior problem is called socially motivated challenging behavior. This means children may act out physically when they are unable to communicate appropriately. They may hurt themselves or others in ways such as slapping their own face or throwing something at another child. They may engage in this activity to gain attention or to escape an uncomfortable situation (McEvoy, Reichle, & Davis, 1995). Again, the teacher has to teach them what is appropriate and the structure for her expectations. She may teach the students about consequences when they will not conform.

A third problem behavior is early onset aggressive behavior. This means children who behave in this way often do so because they feel disliked, alone and have low self-esteem. They usually either lash out physically or verbally with the intent to cause harm (Kaiser & Rasminsky, 2012). Communicating expectations and consequences again goes a long way in the maturation process. At times, certain children may need to be separated until they can calm down.

However, you also mention risk factors. These risks increase the potential of engaging in particular behaviors but don't predetermine it (p. 17). It depends on a wide range of environmental and genetic factors (p. 17). This refers to the old nature vs. nurture debate. Are you familiar with this debate?

You might mention something like genes (p. 19). There isn't a single gene but many AND physiological, developmental, and environmental influences which work together to produce different types of behavior (p. 19). It is hard to figure out how much of an influence genes (nature) play and how much comes from the environment (nurture). In studies of twins, I'm sure you've read, researchers found that 40 to 50% come from inheritance, or about half the time (p. 19). You should cite here the name of the researchers. Antisocial behavior is believed to have more of a genetic effect. The interesting part of the nature-nurture debate is that sometimes the impact of genes affects the environment. For example, if you have a child who is ...