How behaviour affects your life

Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that behaviour affects every single aspect of your life, every day, from the moment you are born until you take your last breath?  For something that is so omnipresent, it is routinely misunderstood and definitely misinterpreted.

Behaviour, both your own and that of those around you, has an impact on

  • relationships,
  • physical and mental health,
  • choices,
  • habits,
  • success,
  • personality, and
  • overall satisfaction with life.

Stop for a minute and think about how your life could be improved if you had a better understanding of how behaviour works and could apply that knowledge to various aspects of your life.  Powerful stuff.

Behaviour is a cycle that is influenced by various factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic.  The relationship between influencing factors and your behaviour contributes significantly to how you experience life.  There are numerous factors that can influence behaviour and common ones include:

  • biological needs;
  • individual personality traits;
  • different environments where you spend time (home, work, school, etc.);
  • relationships including family, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc.;
  • emotional needs; and
  • past behaviour.

While our day to day experiences are varied and can seem to have nothing in common, there is a shared thread woven throughout them and that is behaviour:  how we behave, how others behave, and how we react to behaviour.  Many of us spend too much time ruminating about how the behaviour of others affects our life but that is actually not as important as you might think.  There is much more power in understanding your own behaviour and how you react to behaviour.

Think about a behaviour that you would like to change or improve.  Now, instead of focusing on the behaviour you want to change, think about what happens right before that behaviour typically occurs and what happens right after that behaviour occurs.  The key to changing a behaviour is in understanding those two factors.  You don’t need to analyze the behaviour or contemplate where the behaviour originated and why.  Understanding those things might bring about comfort but it will never help you change.  Behaviour perseveres thanks to an environment that allows it to happen and consequences that make it likely to happen again.

We are heavily bombarded daily by other people’s behaviour, both good and bad.  Behaviour we like from others typically helps us to create better relationships with those people and contributes to our overall feelings of happiness.  Behaviour we don’t like can negatively tax our relationships as well as our own physical and mental health.  It doesn’t have to.  Instead of having a strong reaction to the behavior of others, think of it more as information.  This helps to remove or minimize an emotional reaction and encourage you to be more objective about the behaviour.  If it is appropriate, you can take that information and help set up the environment so that a more desirable behaviour in encouraged.  Or, you can simply acknowledge the information that behaviour has provided.  You do not always need to respond to the behaviour of others.  This is important so I am going to repeat it.  You do not always need to respond to the behaviour of others.

Behaviour affects every aspect of your life from big decisions to mundane daily activities.  If there are aspects of your life that you have struggled to change or improve, understanding how behaviour works is what will help.  While humans are great at over complicating behaviour, Kindred Connection breaks it down into information that is easy to understand and tools that are even easier to use.

To learn more about behaviour, click here for our free online course!  

Punishment is a big pain in the butt

Punishment is a big pain in the butt.  Punishment, in scientific terms, is a word that describes a consequence that suppresses, reduces the frequency, or stops a behaviour from occurring again in the future.  It is future behaviour that determines if a consequence is punishing.  Does the behavior stop happening or reduce the frequency of occurring as a result of a consequence?  Yes – then the consequence has been punishing.  No – then the consequence may have been aversive but it was not punishing.

Based on the definition of punishment, here is why we think it is a huge pain in the butt.

  • Punishment must be repeated frequently to remind the learner to avoid their mistake and you have to be there to punish every single occurrence.
  • Punishment doesn’t teach the learner anything.
  • Learners with little confidence will wither.
  • With punishment, you can’t control what the learner learns.
  • Punishment can damage the relationship between punisher and the learner.
  • Punishment can accelerate aggression by suppressing all warning signs. For example, it can teach a dog to forgo looking away, moving away or growling and teach the dog to go right for the bite.

Punishment is actually a whole lot of work and has so much potential for going sideways.

Fortunately, Kindred Connection offers you an alternative; it’s called reinforcement of behaviours.  Combining management of the environment with reinforcement of good choices always equals a healthy, happy learner who is willing to work with you out of choice.

The best part?  There is no negative fall-out from using reinforcement to teach your happy learner.  Oh, and did we mention it is way more fun for you, too?

One easy way to improve anyone’s behaviour

When I was pregnant, I asked Kirsten to come and help us get our dogs ready for life with a baby. At the time, we had 2 beautiful rescue dogs and one of them was anxious. Kirsten came and gave us some great information as well as a few exercises that we could start doing with the dogs. Just as we were wrapping up our session, she said “Remember to notice and reinforce when the dogs are doing something right!” I rolled my eyes as I thought to myself “Really? I’m not worried about what they are doing right; I’m worried about everything they are doing wrong!” But because I love rules and instructions, I jotted everything down and started doing the exercises she had taught us.

It didn’t take long before I made 2 surprising observations:
1. My dogs didn’t spend nearly as much time doing “bad stuff” as I thought they did; and
2. The more I noticed and reinforced great behaviours, the more I got great behaviours.

It was really interesting to see that my dogs were actually good almost all of the time. I guess the bad behaviours just stuck out more because they were annoying/embarrassing/aggravating. Know what I mean? I spent so much time focusing on those behaviours that I was really missing out on all the awesome stuff they did.

The more I noticed the good behaviours, the easier it was for me to reinforce them. The frequency of these behaviours increased significantly. Even more interesting was that I was so wrapped up in focusing on the good stuff that I stopped paying any attention to other behaviours. Many of those behaviours actually extinguished themselves because I wasn’t paying attention to them anymore. Those behaviours simply stopped “working” for the dogs so the dogs stopped doing them.

Kirsten calls this little game of noticing all the good stuff “ISpy” and it is, hands down, one of the best things that I have ever learned to do. It is extremely effective in dog training and is pretty powerful in other relationships, too. Because I am human and flawed, I sometimes get annoyed and frustrated at my husband and son. Since I have yet to develop the capacity for infinite patience, I use ISpy to help me focus on the good. Instead of getting caught up in all the stuff that is driving me crazy, I try to think and talk more about what is going right. This inherently improves my relationships because my family spends more time hearing me talk about good stuff instead of hearing me be critical. Seriously. Try this.

Don’t you find that dog training (and people training!) tends to focus almost exclusively on the problem behaviours? I got caught up in that and forgot the simplest rule of behaviour: behaviours that are reinforced will be repeated. Start noticing the amount of effort you put into dealing with “problem” behaviours versus the amount of effort you put into noticing fantastic and appropriate behaviours. If I were a betting lady, I’d bet that considerably more attention is being paid to the exact behaviours you wish would go away. Pick a few great behaviours you want your dog* to do more and start to play I Spy with these behaviours today. You’ll be amazed at what happens!

*spouse, in laws, kid, neighbour, boss, co worker, whoever!

 

Welcome to Kindred Connection

Hi! Welcome to Kindred Connection.  This is the place where science meets kindness.

If you have ever struggled with improving behaviour, either your own or from those around you, then you are in the right place.  Too often we make life more difficult and complicated than it needs to be.  This shows up in our relationships with others.  Our relationships become adversarial, confrontational, and are punctuated by an ongoing struggle for power.  Kindred Connection is about knowing that life and your relationships can be easy, simple, co-operative, happy, and successful. How can something so simple be so effective?  Easy.  All animals, including humans, do what works.

The science of behaviour analysis has proven this time and time again, without exception.  An simple example is this:  if choosing to sit or lay down is followed by a chest rub or a piece of kibble, your dog will do it again.  It is so much easier to let those around us know what behaviours we like than it is to correct or discourage behaviours that are dangerous or annoying.  This is simply the most natural way of learning.  This is how nature has designed the success and failure of every species, including our own.  And for millions of years, nature has not been wrong.

If you are here because you are struggling with behaviour, we can help.  If you are here because you want to continue to improve your relationships, we can help.  If you are here because you want to make the world around you a little bit better, we can help.