Also available in: Español (Spanish)
How do we learn complex skills, multi-step skills such as brushing teeth or making a snack?
We use a concept called shaping!
So…what is shaping?
Shaping is the process of systematically and differentially reinforcing successive approximations to a terminal behavior (Cooper, Heron, Heward, 2007).
In other words: As a new skill is taught, we want to provide reinforcement (something personally motivating) for the child’s best approximation. As the skill is refined, the child will only receive reinforcement for their best attempt. Instead of expecting someone to immediately perform the desired behavior perfectly, shaping involves reinforcing successive approximations of the behavior until the final target behavior is achieved.
Shaping offers several benefits for gradually teaching new skills, particularly daily living skills. It allows individuals to make progress at their own pace, breaking down overwhelming tasks into manageable steps. Each step may take varying amounts of time, and the number of steps for tasks can also vary based on the individual. You may also find the reinforcer preferences change over the shaping period- that’s okay too!
Although we are often discussing shaping children’s behavior, shaping is a tool that anyone can implement- even for yourself! One popular program that utilizes shaping is the “Couch to 5k”. Another popular example: you want to drink more water daily. You set a goal to drink 8 glasses a day, at least 3 times a week. If you meet your goal, you plan on treating yourself to something you’ve had your eye on. When you meet your 3 times a week goal, you set a new goal for drinking 8 glasses of water 4 times a week before treating yourself. You are now shaping your own behavior!
Behavior Resources is bound by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and will not disclose information without written consent. We will ask you to sign a release of information before communicating with any outside providers (the Regional Center, insurance company, physicians, school, etc). You may revoke the release at any time. We will not sell your information under any circumstances.
© Behavior Resources, Inc. All rights reserved.
Contact Us For An Assessment
Let's Get Started
Behavior Resources, Inc.
Based in Yolo County, Behavior Resources utilizes the principles of ABA to provide lasting behavior change for best quality of life. Early intervention and parent coaching-based therapies are available.
Have a question?