Relationship-Based Behavior Management Program

Equine therapist introduces two curious young boys to a horse - residential equine therapyWe have found that the only real antidote for a history of struggles and failures is the experience of sustained success. At Little Keswick, careful selection of appropriate challenges and the development of effective strategies provide constant opportunities for new successes. The behavior management system sustains student awareness of specific goals, organizes goal-directed behavior, and illuminates clear pathways to success. Developmentally-graded level criteria create a template for more generalized gains. Choice theory, integrated throughout the program, teaches students to generate acceptable alternative behaviors, as opposed to developing compliance without self-management and personal responsibility. Formalized and consistent practice of dignity and respect encourages the development of a strong sense of personal influence and self-esteem.The major elements of the Relationship-Based Behavior Management Program are the point sheet, the level system, and most importantly, the therapeutic environment. The therapeutic environment is engineered to provide a continuous stream of support and guidance, and constant opportunities for positive practice. This allows boys who do not typically respond to contingency-based programs (pure behavioral approaches) to practice until success becomes a habit. Natural drives for competency and acknowledgment support strong motivation if tasks are selected appropriately. While incentives and contingencies are employed, shaping of behaviors, thoughts, and emotions through relationships is our primary tool to support growth.The point sheet is an instrument that facilitates communication of feedback and helps sustain a student’s focus on his goals. Every forty-five minutes, the student is asked to consider his performance and make necessary adjustments or prepare for success in the coming activities. Point sheet goals are identified collaboratively by the student and his Advisory Team. Success then can be measured by attainable goals, which supports a strong self-concept.

Our level system defines success at points corresponding to progressive developmental plateaus of social and behavioral functioning. Privileges and responsibilities both increase as each student establishes greater stability, organization, and specific skills. Students experience success as “level one,” “level two,” and so forth, without an all-or-none definition of either success or failure.

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