The behavioral approach described in the paper attempts to describe actions that increases positive behavior while decreasing the negative behavior (Ward, 2010). The behavioral learning theory implies that children learn certain skills such as how to use the potty so that the skill can make the child a better person as he or she grows up. Behavior theory helps to simplify tasks that are quite complicated, such as latrine training. As the toddler is given instruction, his knowledge is built, that is, learning builds on prior knowledge that an individual has (MSU, 2000).
Modified behavioral approach emphasizes more on how the environment influences behavior. The kind of behavior that the individuals adopt is highly influenced by the environment surrounding them and this behavior is then reinforced on individuals. Behavior of individuals is modified so that they eventually learn to perform various tasks by themselves. In the paper, the toddler is taught how to use the potty repeatedly. This makes it possible for the toddler to get used and to adapt to using the potty, as opposed to the release of his/her waste on the diapers. The behavior of the toddler is modified until the desired learning outcome of not wetting the bed is finally achieved. The behavior is further reinforced by the instructors when the child attends the day care.
Piaget is the pioneer of cognitive behavioral theory who believes that the learning behavior of individuals is a continuous process. According to him, learning is not merely a process of adopting individuals to particular environmental conditions with an expectation that they replicate the same behavior. Children are positioned to learn best through the natural ways such as playing as well as other ordinary activities. He refuted the claim put forward by the behavioral theory that the child learns best during the early stages. According to him, when the child is young, he/she is best suited to learn through experiments as young children act like little scientist and are always engaged in experiments (Fleming, 2004). The process of learning enables a child to form a schema (mental picture or a pattern of how actions are to be carried out). Children, therefore, construct their own knowledge through observation and experimentation.
They, therefore, seek to provide and give meaning to the people, places they visit as well as to the things that surround them. Instructors should seek to create curiosity among the children that will enable them to discover certain things on their own as opposed to feeding them with instructions. His main emphasis was on the play which he believed would enable a child to become more curious and build a foundation for understanding of various issues.
Lev Vygotsky who advanced the ideas of Piaget agreed with him on the importance of knowledge during the development of a child as it enhanced learning. He, however, emphasized on the importance of a child collaborating with other children and especially the experienced ones, that is, children of different ages, those with different experiences as well as those of higher development levels so that they can be able to solve complex tasks more efficiently. Successors of Piaget ideas such as Bruner asserted that toddlers adopt naturally to the environment and his/her thinking ability, therefore, develops as they carry out various actions during their childhood. He echoed Piaget and Vygotsky work on cognitive development.
Piaget and his successors believed that the child was capable of learning for himself/herself through observation and experiments as a little scientist and, thus, able to make sense out of the environment and not through reinforcement of instructions as advocated for by the behavioral theories. The behaviorists also underplay the importance of biology and scientific features such as observations which are mostly recognized by the Piaget and his successors.
Based on Piaget and his successor’s ideas, modified behavioral approach assumes that the development of a child’s behavior result from learning which is reinforced from the early stages of a child, rather than through experiments and observations that the child is engaged in as he/she grows up. Learning is a continuous process according to behaviorist and occurs from childhood until a child grows up as opposed to the various stages, that is, adoption, assimilation accommodation and equilibrium of learning.
Vygotsky advocates for great interaction during the learning process. He believed that an individual is best suited to learn when he/she exists in a social-cultural environment. Through the interactions of individuals with other peers in the society, individuals were deemed to learn more effectively than would have been the case if they existed individually. According to him, learning occurs when an individual is able to perform tasks under adult guidance as well as in collaboration with other peers and not merely by receiving instructions continuously as advocated for by the modified behavior approach.
He also asserts that individuals’ best learn when they interact with others in the society as opposed to solving of problems individually. An excellent example is the learning experience of the teachers and the lecturers in a class where the learning process is two way. This means that lecturer allows meaningful engagement by the student and learning, therefore, becomes a reciprocal experience as opposing to give and take approach advocated by the advocates of modified behavior approach.
Based on the Piaget theory that the learning process of individuals follows various stages during the child development and the Vygotsky’s interaction theory, we can create a modified approach. The modified approach is that the child learning behavior should incorporate the ideas of Piaget, Vygoskys and the behavioral approach. This is because learning cannot be completely isolated from the influences of the environment as the observations and the experiment put forward by Piaget does not occur in isolation with the environment.
Some behaviors such as toilet training as seen in the text can best be taught through influences of the environment. The various stages in the child development, that is, the assimilation, adoption, accommodation and equilibrium should also not be ignored during an individual’s learning process right from childhood. As the child receives instructions and is allowed to continue learning through the various stages, he/she should not be isolated from the social setting that will enable him/her learn more as they interact with other peers who are more experienced than them.
Therefore, the learning process should be a holistic approach and a single theory should not be relied upon as the child goes through the learning process. A single approach like modified behavioral approach is not an end in itself but a means as far as the learning process of individuals is concerned.
The modified behavioral approach has largely been criticized throughout this paper by multiple authors. In spite of the loopholes that are well visible in this theory, modified behavioral approach cannot be entirely dismissed. It is not possible to entirely refute the impact of the environment as far as reinforcement of individual behavior is concerned. Indeed as highlighted in the paper, the theory of modified behavior results to the desirable outcomes such as the development of child behavior from using the diapers to using the potty. Therefore, modified behavioral theory cannot be entirely abandoned as it is effective in certain situations.