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Behaviour Training with Children


Admission requirements

Master Students Child and Adolescent Psychology


This course has two aims. The first aim is to explain the principles of behaviour therapy in children. The principles are those of instrumental and classical conditioning, modelling, and instruction-following. They can be used to interpret behaviour changes in children’s everyday lives, and to facilitate children’s optimal development. The second aim is to give students a basic training in using principles of behaviour therapy for the benefit of children.
To achieve these aims, students teach two children, between four and eight years old, different useful skills. The first is a self-help skill, which is often easy to teach. It serves as a warming-up for the second skill, which concerns social behaviour, language, on-task behaviour, fear of failure, or academic content (reading, math, writing). These are often more difficult to teach. The student searches for a school, and chooses the children in consultation with teachers in Groups 1-4 (kindergarten, first or second grade). The student visits the school three times per week, for a period lasting eight to ten weeks.
The course emphasizes the school context of children’s behaviour. To understand behaviour in this context, however, many influences need to be considered, and some of these influences have their origins in the home context. Students will therefore learn how the principles of behaviour therapy can address the entire system of influences, and they will learn to reckon with that system throughout the entire behaviour therapy process. The course has much to do with the “Behaviour” component of the Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy approach to treatment, but children’s cognitions are also considered.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, the student should be capable of (1) interpreting everyday behaviour changes in terms of well-established forms of learning and (2) carrying out behavioural assessment, making behavioural objectives, and devising treatment plans for simple behaviour problems.


Behaviour Training with Children (2014-2015):



Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions. Please consult the Instructions registration

Mode of instruction

  • Seven (7) lectures introducing the principles of behaviour training with children.

  • Seven (7) work group meetings facilitating training in the application of the principles.

Assessment method

Written report on work with two children during the course.

The Faculty of Social Sciences has instituted that instructors use a software programme for the systematic detection of plagiarism in students’ written work. In case of fraud disciplinary actions will be taken. Please see the information concerning fraud


Information on

Reading list

Martin, G., & Pear, J. (2010). Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it (9th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Contact information

Dr. H. Boelens
Room 3B38
Tel: +31 (0)71 527 3697