Behavioral Brief: Teaching Differential Reinforcement to Parents and Lay Persons

Applying behavioral interventions to our every-day lives can be difficult without intensive training from a certified professional. Most parents, caregivers, or support staff have difficulty generalizing clinical applications and applying the intervention within a variety of contexts. Sometimes the difficulty can simply be finding the right time to use it. Other times, it may even be deciding which behaviors are ones with which to intervene.

Differential reinforcement is one of the most widely used preventative behavioral interventions to help decrease challenging behavior and increase alternative, more appropriate, behavior. It can be used in a variety of different ways and in a variety of different settings. Although the procedure consists of many different schedules that can differ through implementation, the main components of the procedure are simple and can be used by anyone. This behavioral brief will discuss the clinical application of differential reinforcement and the evidence supporting it. We will also dive into practical use of the intervention and how those at home can use the procedure to help reduce challenging behavior.