In order to teach a child a new behaviour, Mr. Ruiter takes the approach of ‘baby steps’. This is also the way he thinks about the shaping technique. With each step taken, Mr. Ruiter raises the bar bit by bit. He repeats this cycle until his child masters the end goal. He gives an example of teaching a client – Thijs (6 year old child) how to clean their room. In order to do so, he makes use of picture cards to show the overall goal they are striving towards. Mr. Ruiter shares that because Thijs is able to look at the cards, he knows exactly what to do and what comes next.

Mr. Ruiter explains about how he has used shaping and chaining Thijs. 

Mr. Ruiter (as well as any parent) knows that when telling a child to clean their room, it is not very much likely that they will be successful. He breaks down the cleaning process into ‘approximations’ or simpler tasks. 

He starts by asking Thijs to pull the blankets up on the bed each day. Thijs’ parents begin to do this exercise at home and monitor whether Thijs pulls the blankets up every day for over a week. 

After the completion of this task (confirmed by the parents), he offers Thijs reinforcement in a form of a sticker. 

Once Thijs has mastered this task, Mr. Ruiter takes the next step and shows Thijs how to neatly pull up the sheets. In a week and a half, Thijs has mastered making the bed, according to his parents. Mr. Ruijter then proceeds with adding an additional task. He asks Thijs to also pick up the toys. Because Thijs has a box for his toys, Mr. Ruijter asks Thijs to pick up the toys in the box. 

After a week, Thijs is able to master these tasks. He can

1)make up the bed and

2) pick up his toys and bring them to the box. Mr Ruijter gives Thijs reinforcement, by giving Thijs a verbal praise. 

Mr. Ruijter then proceeds with teaching Thijs the next step which is to collect his books and put them on the bookshelf. In a week, Thijs knows how to do this as well as the previous steps and he receives a reinforcement in the form of a written note by Mr. Ruijter, congratulating him. 

Finally, Mr. Ruijter teaches Thijs how to put his pyjamas and dirty clothes in the laundry bin. This is the final behaviour on the ‘cleaning the room’ behaviour that Mr. Ruijter was tasked with. Thijs has mastered it and as a reinforcement, he gets to play his favourite game with Mr. Ruijter.