Principles of Learning Theory Applied to Modify Childrens’ Behavior

The application of proper principles of education provides children with the preparation for entering the system of social relations. They are based on certain values of social consciousness and consolidated in the corresponding social structures. It is aimed at the comprehension of certain values by children and the development of the necessary norms of social life. This paper aims to analyze the Supernanny USA episode about the Wischmeyer Family (Season 1, Episode 4). In this episode, Supernanny dealt with two four-year-old twin girls who were naughty, and parents could not control their behavior. However, several approaches were able to help correct the situation in the family and establish better communication with children.

In the beginning, the girls were uncontrollable: they were constantly crying, shouting, running around, and even kicking their mother and father. The girls behaved in the worst way when it was time for them to go to bed. Parents could not cope with them since they ignored their demands and continued to do what they wanted (Bartsch et al., 2005). Moreover, their mother had to sleep with them since they refused to sleep alone in their room. The girls were a typical example of “difficult” children. They did not control their behavior, were not aware of their and others’ feelings and emotions, and did not follow the rules of conduct.

Parents’ mistakes in upbringing were the lack of punishment and the children’s responsibility for their actions. Moreover, the girls lacked love and care since their mother was working full-time at home. This has led to behavioral disturbances and emotional disorders in children. It happened that the situation improved for a while, but the price was the deterioration of emotional contact between the children and the parents (Bartsch et al., 2005). The parents, especially the mother, had a constant feeling of hopelessness and despair. This state of stress seemed to have led to the rejection of the children, which has become a reason for aggressive behavior.

In this case, it was important to reduce the unwanted behavior patterns of children. It was achieved with the help of methods of punishment, extinction, and saturation. Punishment involves the use of a negative stimulus immediately after the reaction from which the children have to get rid of. Extinction means the gradual disappearance of unwanted behavior due to the fact that it is not reinforced positively. Saturation suggests that excessive positive reinforcement gradually loses its strength and can become emotionally negative (Carpenter & Huffman, 2012).

Depriving all positive reinforcements is one of the options for the extinction technique. The most effective ways to deprive all positive reinforcements is isolation. For a child, this can be social isolation, for example, he or she is removed to another room alone. That is why Supernanny helped parents to implement the naughty corner to reduce negative behavior patterns.

To achieve the desired results, parents had to follow the advice of Supernanny, follow their new schedule, and complete the proposed tasks. They also had to notice their successes and the successes of the children. Gradually, they began to detect positive changes, even if at first it seemed hopeless. To maintain positive changes in children’s behavior, it is important to select the necessary from the set of spontaneous reactions and reinforce them (Carpenter & Huffman, 2012). They will develop new chains of reactions, modify behavior, acquire new adaptive forms, and get rid of harmful or inappropriate forms of behavior. This theory is successfully used today not only for the purposes of psychological correction but also for raising children.

The age of four is very important since the basic needs of a child at this age are the need for communication as a means of assimilating social experience and the need for external impressions for the development of cognitive processes and abilities. New formations of this age include subordination of motives, the arbitrariness of behavior, the emergence of an attitude towards oneself, and the assimilation of moral norms. Therefore, the child behavior improvement program is based on the idea of parent-child collaboration and allows parents to expand their children’s understanding, develop new skills for interacting with them, overcome disobedience and protest reactions, and diversify the children’s emotional experience. It can help the children to master the basic actions of self-control and make the relationship with them more harmonious.


Bartsch, J., Frost, J., Wischmeyer, A., & Wischmeyer, A. (2005). Wischmeyer Family. IMDb. Web.

Carpenter, S., & Huffman, K. (2012). Visualizing psychology (3rd ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

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