It is natural for a parent to want to give their child a consequence for having a tantrum. This is never a bad idea. It will help make sure that it does not occur again. However, it only works if consequence matches the function of the behavior or the reason the behavior occurred.
Parents often consider what a child does when deciding on a consequence. In contrast, a behavior analyst looks at why a child engaged in a behavior or the function of the behavior.
There are five main functions of behavior:
Social positive reinforcement in the form of access to tangible objections
Access tangible means that a person wants an object, item or activity. Basically, they want anything other than a person. For example: A cookie, a ball, an iPad, a car, watching television, playing a game. Social positive reinforcement means that they want another person to give them the object or activity.
Social positive reinforcement in the form of attention
Attention is just that. A person wants another person’s attention.
Social negative reinforcement in the form of escape
Escape means that a person wants to avoid doing an activity or task. For example, cleaning up toys, eating broccoli, getting out of bed. Since it is social negative reinforcement they want another person to give them a break.
When a behavior is reinforced by automatic positive reinforcement a person engages in a behavior all by himself that results in receiving a desirable stimulus.
When a behavior is reinforced by automatic negative reinforcement a person engages in a behavior all by himself that results in the removing an undesirable stimulus.
In order for any consequence or punishment procedure to be effective, it must be functionally related to your child’s behavior!