Theoretical Basis of Warwick's Work
The main theoretical approaches to behaviour change are:-
1. Behavioural Problems due to maladaptive learning - uses rewards and punishments
3. Person Centred Problems due to child's self-concept - aims to redress discrepancies between the child's actual - and ideal - self
2. Cognitive BehaviouralProblems due to maladaptive thinking - uses training for erroneous or unrealistic thinking
4. Psychodynamic Problems due to unresolved unconscious conflicts - helps child to gain insight and increase ego strength
"interactive behaviour imbalance"
WARWICK DYER'S APPROACH
Warwick believes that chronic bad behaviour creates what he has termed an "interactive behaviour imbalance" (www.ibi.org.uk). He does not see "bad behaviour" as the child's problem at all but an interactional problem between child and authority figure which the child is incapable of changing. Warwick therefore works exclusively with the parents and teachers, through their accounts of what is happening, and does not see or
interact with the children themselves.
Looking at responses that actually work Warwick has for many years been attempting to define and clarify the principles that form the basis of the changes he achieves
Warwick's approach is mainly behavioural
There are four reasons why, in Warwick's view, the behavioural approach is the best suited for use with children who are badly behaved. The behavioural approach: -
1. Does not require the child to have reached any particular level of conceptual development and
2. Enables the parents or school staff to remain as the 'agents of change' and the initiative to stay with them. This means that they can make changes without a loss of leadership or the child being made too aware that an outside agency is involved.
3. The parents or school staff can then be trained change their own behaviour and to focus on the interactive nature of the problem.
4. All parents and teachers already use an intuitive version of the Behavioural Approach - they use rewards and punishments instinctively. However, lack of precision in their use is always, in Warwick's view, one of the main reasons for the problems they experience. Warwick has found it essential to train parents and teachers to
use rewards and sanctions effectively.
Influences of the other approaches
Although he works exclusively with parents and educational staff Warwick sees the child's perception of what the parents think of them as central. Through exclusively Behavioural methods, he trains parents and staff to maintain a positive approach and reduce discrepancies between how the child would like to view themselves and the view they see reflected from the authority figures.
An intuitive version of this third view is also often found in use by parents. They are very often engaged in continuous attempts to change what their children appear to think. This often just adds to their problems and they need clear strategies to avoid this trap. When working with badly behaved children, Warwick does not view their apparent maladaptive, erroneous or unrealistic processing as a problem associated with thinking at all - but rather one generated by a lack of training to accept consequences.
He believes problems stem from an emotional need to suspend logic rather than a lack of logical thinking ability. He finds that the unhelpful or unrealistic ways that children appear to think are effectively changed by careful use of a combination of techniques linking rewards and sanctions consistently and positively applied.
The Problem with many Behaviour Interventions
Warwick believes that taking too little account of the interactive nature of "bad behaviour" handicaps many interventions. "Bad behaviour" is always, in his view, part of an interactional problem.
Warwick believes that it is vital for professionals not to work too far away from these interactions. For him, the parents' and teachers response to behaviour is always the key factor.
Don't blame Parents
Warwick believes it makes no sense to blame parents for the bad behaviour of their children, in his experience the vast majority have always done their best and have often found it difficult to find effective help.
The Need for Research
The following conclusions are all intuitively based but present some interesting and concise areas for future research.
Position on Behaviour Disorders
Warwick believes that since many diagnoses of behaviour disorders do not come with any comprehensive advice on behaviour management it is probably best to assume, unless the professionals specifically say otherwise, that the techniques that work with "chronic bad behaviour" will still be needed. Although there is currently no research to back it up Warwick inclines to the belief that many behaviour disorders merely predispose the child and the parent to have problems interacting rather than make it inevitable that the child will behave badly. Interactive behaviour techniques may not alter the underlying behaviour disorder, ADHD, for instance, but may dramatically change the trauma of living
Although, again, research is needed to confirm his observations, Warwick believes that children with "chronic bad behaviour" have a range of characteristics as predictable as those associated with the recognised behaviour disorders. He has introduced the concept of "interactive behaviour imbalance" not to create another behaviour disorder but to show that "bad behaviour" is always a problem shared by the child and the parent. It is, therefore, essential to search for both the problem and the solution within these "interactions".
Characteristics of the child with "Interactive Behaviour Imbalance"
Warwick's method involves speaking to clients every day, including weekends, until the behaviour problem is solved. Working in this way has produced some remarkable insights. By far the most interesting is the realisation that his clients' badly behaved children have remarkably similar characteristics. They
· get into a temper if they are not getting their own way
· seem not to be able to understand reasons or logical explanations
· are defiant
· won't listen to you or talk over you when you are trying to
· are strong-willed, tend to wear you down
· find it difficult or impossible to lose even over small unimportant
· tend to blame others for even small disappointments
When you attempt to punish them they will often
say they "don't care"
threaten or produce a temper tantrum or other retaliation
try to make you feel guilty
· say you are unfair
· say you don't love them
· say they don't like or love you
They may also
· appear to be selfish
· tend to argue with or be spiteful to brothers or sisters
· tend to be spiteful to you, or say hurtful things
· tend to whine or complain
· often need a lot of reassurance and sometimes
· have a tendency to demand affection when they don't deserve it
· occasionally still be sleeping in their parent's bed
Interactive behaviour problems do not always appear to affect relationships outside the home but when they do the children
tend not to have or not to keep friends
or tend to make friends with younger children
or with children they can dominate
or children who have similar difficulties to their own
May not have problems at school but when they do
may have problems with peers at break times
may take a strong dislike and get in trouble with new or particular teachers
The above characteristics mean
· the child is usually very powerful within the family with a
· strong will that may be overpowering
· but usually has very low self-esteem and is
· unhappy much of the time
As these last two characteristics always seem to be present Warwick believes it makes no sense at all to call such children "spoilt".
Children with these characteristics are often just badly behaved yet this list looks as serious any of the lists of symptoms of major disorders like ADHD or Aspergers Syndrome or Attachment Disorder. In many ways, for the family, they can be just as serious, but there is one big difference; with careful work by parents these behaviours and their attendant characteristics can be quickly trained away.
As parents we become painfully aware that we have no direct access to our children's behaviour. Apart from the use of drugs we have no direct way of modifying it. The only access we have is through what we say and do, in other words through our own behaviour.
Behaviour Change Consultancy
What are the Characteristics of the typical child with "interactive behaviour imbalance"?
ibi.org.uk - Click Here
What is the difference between a child with an "interactive behaviour imbalance" and a child that is just "very badly behaved"?
What is the structure of your Interactive Behaviour Intervention with families?