When behaviors become a problem in a classroom an effective strategy is to implement a behavior contract. A behavior contract is a clear, written statement of what behaviors a student agrees to exhibit and the positive consequences (rewards) that will result from fulfillment of the contract. Behavior contracts also state who will deliver those rewards as well. Often the negative consequences of not fulfilling the contract are also specified. Contracts can be a positive way to provide a role for families in improving classroom behavior. Before implementing the behavior contract it should be discussed thoroughly and all involved persons must agree to it and sign it. Anyone can deliver the rewards (the teacher, parent, DRE, etc.), but it must be the same person each time as stated in the behavior contract. Remember to be consistent and praise the child for good behavior choices. When the child does not make a good behavior choice, do not be apologetic; if needed, pull out the contract and review the terms that were agreed upon with the child. Emphasize the positives that come along with good behavior choices and help the child to get used to new habits of good behavior.
The behavior contract should be revised when it is not producing satisfactory results. Therefore your contract should be open to renegotiations at any time. If needed, a new contract replacing the previous one would be written up and signed.
Steps for Developing, Implementing, and Monitoring a Behavior Contract
1. Meet with concerned parties- Everyone who will be supporting the contract need to meet to discuss one target behavior.
2. Determine conditions- The parties determine when, where, and under what specific conditions the behavior occurs. The contract will be written to address these conditions.
3. Determine who will use the contract and where it will be used- All persons who will be responsible for contract implementation must know their responsibilities.
4. Determine reinforcement- Students should be allowed to participate in developing a set of choices of reinforcers (rewards). Reinforcers should be manageable but powerful enough to evoke the desired response (behavior). The list of rewards should be rotated often to make sure that the student motivation remains high.
5. Determine whether negative consequences will be used- Contracts are written in a positive way to increase behaviors. Negative reinforcers may not be necessary or even desirable if the positive reinforcers are motivating for the student.
6. Take baseline data- Determine the frequency in which the behavior occurs. Data should be taken over at least 3 to 5 days to make certain that the behavior is typical for the student.
7. Determine reinforcement schedule- Everyone who is involved should determine how often the student is to receive reinforcers (rewards). The contract should be structured so that the student has a successful experience; this will prompt the student to further work toward the contract goals.
8. Determine goals- Everyone who is involved should determine the criteria for successful completion of the contract. Realistic and reasonable goals should be set, even if those goals do not represent the final level of expectation for the student. When the student consistently reaches the goals, the contract can be modified to target a higher goal.
9. Write the contract- The contract should be written in terms that specify task and time demands, criteria for accuracy, and available reinforcers.
10. Discuss and sign the contract- Everyone that is involved should discuss the contract to ensure understanding. It might be necessary to supplement a discussion with drawings or icons for some students. All concerned parties should receive a copy of the contract.
11. Monitor the contract- Everyone that is involved with the contract should set up a plan to evaluate and modify the contract if needed. All concerned parties should remain in constant contact with each other to ensure that student progress across setting is monitored. If the contract is unsuccessful, the parties need to address task appropriateness, time allotment, and student or environmental factors that could have impeded student progress (Smith, 1998).
Example: John has been erratic in turning in his homework for CCD. Sometimes John completes his homework and turns in it in on time. Other times John does not turn in his homework and acts defensive and is very irritable when questioned about it. In a written, dated, and signed contract, the parents agreed to take John to his favorite restaurant for dinner if John turns in his homework on time for the next 4 weeks. If John does not turn in his homework assignments, he will lose some of his video game privileges, according to the severity of his lapses (how many assignments missed equals how much video game time is taken away which is stated in the contract).
*Families can be a strong support for CCD. Just ask for their help and you will be surprised on how much they will do.
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