Self-Management: The Ultimate Goal
The ultimate goal of all social skills instruction is for students to eventually manage themselves without needing external instruction, cuing, or reinforcement. Self-management is based on cognitive behavioral theory, which focuses on the interdependent relationship of the environment, behavior, and thinking and is based on three assumptions: (1) an individual's thinking affects his or her behavior, (2) an individual's thinking may be monitored and altered, and (3) desired behavior change may be affected through these changes in thinking.8 Individuals who successfully learn to self-manage carry with them the internal cues and reinforcement they need to engage in appropriate social behavior. There are several types of self-management we commonly use, which we define in Table 3.3.
As educators, our ultimate goal is to teach students to manage their own behavior, rather than relying on external controls, so that they continue to be successful when we are not with them. Self-management encourages students to take greater responsibility for their own behavior, which givesthema sense of ownership andcontrol that is inherently reinforcing and maymake it less likely that they will try to control the teacher's behavior. Teaching students to self-manage increases the likelihood that appropriate behavior will last over time and generalize to various settings and allows teachers to spend more time teaching and less time trying to control behavior. In addition, the defining, measuring, graphing, and evaluating involved in various types of self-management give meaningful practice for other parts of the curriculum.9 Self-management techniques have commonly been used with individual students to improve behavioral skills such as staying on task and paying attention. However, group behavioral management programs can also incorporate self-management principles.
Developing social skills across the skill and performance domains to the point that students are able to self-manage these skills and eventually become fluent is the focus of this book. Strategies to help develop self-management skills are integrated into each of the four components of the model (instruction, prevention, reinforcement, and undesirable consequences).
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