Do you withhold rewards?

I always ask people “If you are having a hard day do you need more support or less?” and everybody always agrees they need more. But they are often asked to implement behavior programs that say that if a person is doing something wrong you should withhold access to the reward, and it makes absolutely no sense to me.

If I have had an argument with my wife and I go out to a bar I don’t say, “Mr Bartender, no beer for me I was ugly to my wife Cindy earlier in the day and I don’t want to reinforce that behavior.” No, I say, “Bring me two beers I can’t drink them fast enough.” I encourage people who smoke cigarettes to remember that if they don’t get their paperwork done and their boss gives them a hard time, they don’t go out on their cigarette break and refuse to smoke cigarettes. They smoke five at one time complaining about the boss, and it doesn’t make their behavior worse over time. These things are all coping skills for us and that’s missing in the lives of people we support.

The job of the direct support professional is to help people to find joy non contingently. If the person you support is having a hard day it might be a really good time to get out of here and have some good coffee downtown. It makes much more sense to me than withholding things from people.

Source module: Five More Things You Can Do

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