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Behaviour Training with Children


Entry requirements

  • Master’s students in Psychology with specialisation 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 classical and instrumental 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 2 children, between 4 and 8 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 3 times per week, for a period lasting 8 to 10 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:

  • seeing basic forms of learning in stories about behaviour; and

  • devising a program for treating a simple behaviour problem.


For the timetables of your lectures, work groups and exams, please select your study programme in:
Psychology timetables




Students need to enroll for lectures and work group sessions.
Master’s course registration


Students are not automatically enrolled for an examination. They can register via uSis from 100 to 10 calendar days before the date. Students who are not registered will not be permitted to take the examination.
Registering for exams

Mode of instruction

  • 7 2-hour lectures introducing the principles of behaviour training with children.

  • 7 2-hour work group sessions facilitating training in the application of the principles.

Assessment method

Written report on work with 2 children during the course.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural 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.

Reading list

Martin, G., & Pear, J. (2015). Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it. (10th ed) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Contact information

Dr. Harrie Boelens