Is It A Good Sign If My Child Shows Very Dramatic Response When A Behavioral Intervention Is First Introduced?

Question: Is it a good sign if my child shows very dramatic response when a behavioral intervention is first introduced?

Answer: When a behavioral intervention is first introduced, the responses that may occur can be quite dramatic, and some families wonder whether that's a good sign or not.

Of course, it certainly depends on whether the dramatic response is in the direction that we want to see, or whether, in fact, it appears as if things are getting worse. And if it's the latter, if things are appearing to get worse, it doesn't necessarily mean that you need to abandon that path.

For example, there are some behavioral interventions that are designed to address the reinforcers that may promote a behavior.

If a child does something that is maladaptive, does something that we're trying to discourage, and the reason that that behavior happens is because of attention seeking, often an intervention is designed that will minimize the amount of attention that a child gets when he or she does that behavior.

Let's take aggression, for example.

So, when the behavioral intervention suddenly dictates that we're going to ignore this behavior, it can be the case that the child will redouble his or her efforts, and actually engage in the behavior more often, at least early on, until it becomes clear that that attention just isn't going to come.

In that case, a dramatic initial response is actually, potentially a very good sign that you're on the right track, and that continuing down that path will yield a great outcome.