Pairing is a strategy I talk about on this blog post and I dedicate a whole chapter to in Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity

Pairing means that we pair something reinforcing (in this video, they call it fun) with something that is not so reinforcing or fun. We are trying to transfer the reinforcing properties of the fun thing to whatever is less desirable.

Check out the video below. The goal was to increase the behavior of using the stairs (instead of the escalator). The strategy was pairing. They paired the stairs themselves with the fun activity of the interactive piano. Pretty cool, right?

In real life we can do this as parents (or interventionists) as purposefully pairing an un-fun activity with something that is reinforcing.

A simple example from my own life: My little used to hate having her fingernails clipped. But she loved(s) playing outside. So every time I trimmed her fingernails, I did it outside. For months. Now, the reinforcing properties of being outdoors have transferred to the nail trimming activity and I can do it wherever. No problem.

Pair something not so awesome with something awesome. Do this intentionally and consistently. Watch the magic happen. JK- it’s not magic. It’s behavioral science!

Read more about pairing and other behavior analytic strategies for parents in my book, Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity.

Find more video clips to demonstrate behavoiral principles over at bSci21!