Behavior Analysis | Instructive Language

by admin in


I don't recall posting this picture in the past so it will fit perfectly with a little ditty about instructive language. You can see who has the instructional control in our house . . . (sometimes).

I have a pet peeve with starting a sentence with "don't." I tend to zone out myself, because I know what is following is some sort of lecture about what I shouldn't be doing (at work, in life, etc). Same goes for our kids. The best way to bring about behavior change is to use instructive language. It tells the listener what behaviors are expected in order to receive positive reinforcement. It's not a walk in the park. I think our natural instincts are to call someone out on what they are doing. And ofcourse tone goes a long way here - you want your expectation to be sincere and without ridicule or sarcasm. Some instructive language examples might be:

Use This:                      Not That:

  1. Walk instead of Don't run
  2. Gentle instead of Don't pull/push
  3. Quiet voice instead of Don't yell
  4. Remember your manners instead of Don't be rude
  5. Raise your hand instead of Don't call out
  6. Keep your hands to yourself instead of Don't hit
  7. Hold hands/stay close instead of Don't run away from me