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Introduction to Human Behaviour

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Introduction to Human Behaviour Sally is a three year old. Whenever Sally's mother has attempted to leave Sally with friend or relative, Sally has screamed and clung to her mother and seemed terrified at the prospect. Sally's mother has given in and has not left her since she was born. Sally's mother is now thinking about starting a course at university. This will involve her being away from Sally for a morning. Sally's grandmother has offered to look after Sally while her mum is at University. Sally's mum really wants to do this course but doesn't know how she will manage Sally. This paper will discuss Sally's anxiety difficulties. It will explain separation anxiety particularly its causes and the difficulties which may stem from the disorder. I will also endeavour to design a suitable behavioural program that shall seek to address the disorder by means of an operant conditioning technique. Finally I shall discuss how I would measure the success of the proposed behavioural program. "What was once thought to be a normal part of growing up, professionals now recognize excessive anxiety as a debilitating condition with long-term consequences" (King 1993, pg 305). Separation anxiety stems from a babies attachment to its mother. Research into the attachment theory was developed by Mary Ainsworth (Plotnik 2003, pg385) in 1969. I was then that Ainsworth questioned, how attachment occurs? Are there different types of attachment? ...read more.


The "operant conditioning method is a kind of learning in which a human performs some behaviour, and the following consequence (reward or punishment) increases or decreases the chance the human will again perform that behaviour" (Plotnik 2003, pg 213). In relation to Sally's situation the operant conditioning technique would be used by way of taking Sally to her grandmas rewarding her with praise and treats if she doesn't get upset when you leave her. Using this method will teach her to relate treats with both being well behaved and grandma. This must be done immediately after she does not cry or when she stops crying, by her grandma, so that she relates the treat with being well behaved. I have designed the following behavioural program for Sally's mother to use as guide. Phase one: Take Sally to see grandma every couple of days for a week and stay with her and encourage her to interact with grandma. Take some of Sally's favourite toys and things from home, things that may keep her preoccupied. Phase two: Take Sally to see grandma for every couple of days for a week and leave the room for twenty minutes at a time but stay in a room close by so she can still here your voice and feels safe thus giving her the confidence to be with grandma alone. If Sally cries let grandma try and calm her down and when she eventually does reward her with praise or treats. ...read more.


To find out if Sally is only conditioned to her grandma or if she is comfortable with other people in general. To test this Sally's mother should start taking her to a day care once a week, as well as testing the operant conditioning technique, this will get her used to other children and adults. Using this option would be advantageous so that she has more interaction with other children and sees other children being without their mothers, and also so that Sally's mother has more options than just grandma. As noted by Ollendick and Francis (1988) (cited King 1993, pg 329) Operant based procedures in the treatment of phobic children is inconclusive because almost all support for use of operant procedures is based on controlled studies in which children were not referred for treatment. (cited King 1993, pg 329) While a separation anxiety is not uncommon for one-year-old infants, should a parent become fretful if it perseveres into later years? "Answering this question depends upon the nature of the child's response, its intensity, and persistence over time" (LaFreniere,P 1995 http://www.findarticles.com). It generally can depend on how early a parent starts to leave the child and how trusting the child is towards other adults even when their mother is around (LaFreniere,P 1995 http://www.findarticles.com). In Sally's case her mother has left it to three years old which is later than would be usual but if a rat and a bear can be taught using the method (Plotnik 2003, pg 215-217), I would assume a child of three years old can too. ...read more.

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