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What is Behavior Modeling?

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Quick Links: All Discipline and Teens Resources | Quiz: Is your teen a slacker?

Social learning theory, which provides the foundation for behavior modeling, asserts that most behaviors are learned by observation and modeling. The poem ‘Children Learn What They Live’ is based on behavior modeling in the home. As the Guide for the Parenting of Teens site at About.com , I agree with the work of A. Bandura on behavior modeling training and feel it is worthwhile for parents to use it in the home. Parents can feel more empowered when they use these steps of the theory in practice:

  1. Having the teen must pay attention to the parent as the behavior is performed.
  2. Allow the teen to process and remember the behavior the parent performed.
  3. The behavior must then be performed by the teen him/her self.
  4. The teen should be praised by the parent for performing the behavior, to reinforce it so that it continues to happen.

To firmly grasp the concept of behavior modeling, think about it this way: how many times have you caught yourself sounding just like your parents? That is you modeling their behavior.

An Example of Behavior Modeling

I’ll use teaching your teen a new chore as an example of behavior modeling. Say you want your teen to do a chore that you normally do and you want him/her to complete the task up to par. First you’ll need to show your teen how to do the task, once but twice may be better. Make a list of how it is done in order to remind your teen what is expect. Allow your teen to perform the task without your constant supervision. Praise your teen for completing the chore. Behavior modeling really is that simple - and that complicated. It is mostly done when parents aren’t even paying attention.

Take this article one step further:

  • See how this advice can help you improve your communication skills in this parenting class: Learn to Communicate Effectively with Your Teen in 5 Days.
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