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Behavioral Learning Strategy Examples Case Study


All children encounter moments in their life when they fail to behave as expected. In the process of attaining independence, one goes through different phases of development. The child may experience periods of rebelliousness or attempt to push limits. Since such behaviors are commonplace among different children in their early years, teachers and parents do not have to worry so much. However, a challenge that should attract the attention of teachers, parents, and communities emerges where the conduct or oppositional defiant behavior persists for a couple of months. This situation is the case for Gemma, a five-year-old child, who attends a kindergarten/preschool where I teach. This paper identifies and discusses a variety of effective strategies and interventions that may support the learner with the help of an appropriate behavior framework, strategy, and model prescribed by theories that have been used to guide approaches to behavior management.


The creation of an environment that fosters learning in the effort to pursue a recommended curriculum followed by the maintenance of this culture while ensuring full learning encompasses the main essence of effective learning in classroom settings. Hence, the focus of teaching does not only entail academic but also involves turning children into good citizens. The societal aim is to ensure that schools improve in terms of encouraging positive social coupled with emotional development and learning. Behavior problems reduce the probability of realizing this aim. For example, Gemma’s behavior is an indication that misbehaving interferes with achieving positive social development. On four separate occasions, she has physically struck other children in the group by punching and kicking them. This behavior amounts to intimidation and bullying of other children. The behavior is not only hurtful but also inhibits good interaction with peers (Polanin, Espelage, & Pigott, 2012).

Gemma’s interaction with other students indicates that she has developed a bullying behavior. For example, despite having an advanced artistic flair, she has also been noticed pinching other children and then running away for the child not to see her. This behavior encompasses an unwanted dominance or aggressive conduct that is exercised over her weak targets. The behavior inculcates fear among other children. Gemma has the desire to acquire dominance over children in various social activities in school settings. For instance, her family has communicated to me that she enjoys physical activities and ball games, but can become upset if she is ‘losing’ or having to wait for a turn. This situation challenges her capability to tolerate others and their opinions. She is defiant. Indeed, Gemma enjoys high-level conversations, often not listening to instructions when asked to stop chatting and/or when she is required to focus on her task.

Various models and theories cite the above behavioral problems as important characteristics of conduct disorder. For example, Douthit (2006) asserts that children who have to conduct disorder may engage in physical fights, lie, and even abuse others without any remorse or guilt for their actions. They also refuse to follow rules (Westermann & Rummel, 2012). This behavior is observed in Gemma. She does not listen to instructions when required to stop chatting and/or when she needs to pay attention to her tasks. She does not obey the rules of the game. She feels offended after losing or when required to wait for her turn. Gemma is in danger of losing positive social interaction with her peers in school. Her behavior problems may also cause distress in the local communities.

Oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disarray has various causes. The disorders can be explained by unique circumstances. For example, antisocial behavior genes may lead to a problem (Douthit, 2006). Other factors include difficulties in learning acceptable or good behaviors, poor temperament, gloominess, experiencing bullying, emotional and psychological abuse, hyperactivity, involvement in drug abuse, and parenting issues (Douthit, 2006). In the case of Gemma, parenting issues can explain the behaviors. Her parents have already communicated to me that she enjoys physical activities. However, she can become distressed if she is defeated or when advised to exercise patience. Hence, she has not been taught or coached on the necessity to comply with rules and/or giving priority to others in social interaction processes. This possibility is justified by the fact that I have been trying to engage with her family without any success.


Considering Gemma’s situation, there is a need to put in place effective strategies and interventions that can support the learner. This necessity is supported by the fact that according to Vygotsky’s theory of learning processes, learning encompasses a social process that is mediated by socio-cultural constructs. Vygotsky noted that culture and society are two inseparable entities that contribute to learning capability (Jonathan, 2009). Consequently, social interactions are critical in the process of cognition development. For instance, through parenting interactions guided by the establishment of rules and regulations, Gemma could have positively recognized that things cannot always work the way she wants. Therefore, she ought to respect peers and/or stick to instruction and commands. The fact that she does not obey or respect instructions implies that she is at risk of having learning problems, especially where learning is rule-based.

Dealing with Gemma’s behavior problems requires the integration of various stakeholders in the learning processes. The stakeholders mainly include carers, teachers, and parents. Bulotsky-Shearer, Dominguez, and Bell’s (2012) arguments support the contribution of these parties in preparing the physical and social environment to contribute to the child’s learning and relationship with others. For example, emotional regulation, initiation of interactions with one’s peers, paying attention, and fostering engagement in learning processes are crucial issues mediated by society and culture through the development and imposition of norms and value systems (Shaki & Gevers, 2011).

In the case of Gemma, the value and norm system in the physical and social environment fails to advocate respect to the authority and rights of people. Hence, Gemma has developed a conduct disorder. Therefore, preparing the physical and social environment to address her behavior problems needs to bring parties to these environments together to develop rules and regulations that she should comply with accompanied by suggesting consequences for the failure to meet the terms. The need for behavior correction is advocated for since the most important finding is that Gemma suffers from conduct disorder. She engages in aggressive behavior towards peers and that she defies authority. As discussed in the recommendation section, behavior modification following BF Skinner’s theory of behavior management is necessary.


In 1954, BF Skinner developed his theory of behavior modification. He assumed that the most effective way of behavior modification involves the adjustment of the environment (Douthit, 2006). The theory supports instructional strategies that are divided into small repetitive units, which are subjected to reviews, and incorporating immediate feedback mechanisms. Using this theory to modify Gemma’s behavior eliminates the possibility of using punishment to encourage positive behavior. Skinner claimed that punishments are highly ineffective in behavior modification (Douthit, 2006).

Rather, frequent reinforcement of the desired behavior is necessary. This plan underlines the necessity of developing rewards and inceptive package to guarantee behavior modification and/or influence behavior maintenance. This approach eliminates ethical concerns associated with some forms of punishment such as corporal punishment that is enshrined in policy frameworks, which are anchored on children’s rights. However, it has cultural and familial implications since there is a need to alter values and norms that may be justifying Gemma’s behavior.

Two methods of behavior correction anchored on BF Skinner are recommended.

School-based support

Gemma struggles in school. She is at risk of having problems with peers due to her behavior. Therefore, school officials in contact with her have the responsibility of imposing positive behavior by rewarding any compliance with the advocated new behavior, including allowing peers to participate in physical games. Gemma needs school-based social skills aid. This support should be extended to classroom contexts since her conduct disorder may potentially influence her learning. Where the behavior persists, placement to educational institutions with specialists for behavior problems correction is recommended.

Community-based support

Upon talking to parents, it is necessary to seek community-based support when they also become cognizant of Gemma’s behavior problem. Through support, it is also possible to identify other antisocial behaviors in Gemma. These specialists also make a referral to local mental health services in case other disorders explaining the behavior are identified. They also work in collaboration with parents, schools, and various community organizations to guarantee ardent support for a child. The community-based support specialists are better placed in offering talking therapy and/or behavior psychoanalysis.


Gemma has a conduct disorder, which may impair her learning capability. She must receive professionals to correct it. Such help can be school or community-based. The plan is effective in behavior correction depending on the parents’ capacity to recognize that her conducts are antisocial and inappropriate. Such recognition ensures that all parties equally contribute to behavior change and/or rewarding of the newly acquired desired behavior.

Reference List

Bulotsky-Shearer, R., Dominguez, X., & Bell, E. (2012). Preschool classroom behavioral context and school readiness outcomes for low-income children: A multilevel examination of child- and classroom-level influences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(2), 421-438.

Douthit, K. (2006). The convergence of counseling and psychiatric genetics: An essential role for counselors. Journal of Counseling and Development, 84(5), 16-28.

Jonathan, D. (2009). Child development: theory and practice. London: Longman.

Polanin, J., Espelage, L., & Pigott, T. (2012). A meta-analysis of school-based bullying prevention programs’ effects on bystander intervention behavior and empathy attitude. School Psychology Review, 41(1), 89-97.

Shaki, S., & Gevers, W. (2011). Cultural characteristics dissociate magnitude and ordinal information processing. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 42(2), 639-650.

Westermann, K., & Rummel, N. (2012). Delaying instruction: Evidence from a study in a university relearning setting. Instructional Science, 40(4), 673-689.

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