The ABC’s of Behavior

The ABC’s of Behavior

Let’s talk about the ABCs. The ABCs of behavior that is.

The ABCs of behavior stand for Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence.

  • Antecedent 
    • What occurred right before the behavior 
    • What was the setting event?
  • Behavior 
    • The behavior
    • What did it look like? 
  • Consequence 
    • What occurred right after the behavior
    • A consequence can increase the likelihood of the behavior occurring again in the future – this is called reinforcement 
    • A consequence can also decrease the likelihood of the behavior occurring again in the future – this is called punishment 
      • Punishment is typically seen as aversive consequences (such as reprimands, spanking, time outs). However, sometimes when we talk about punishment it can be any consequence that decreases the future probability of the behavior 

 

Now that we know what the ABCs are, why are they important? 

Knowing the ABCs breaks down behaviors to understand the possible controlling parts that surround the behavior. When we understand the cause/function (the antecedent) of the behavior, we can learn how to respond (the consequence) in a way that is reinforcing. This way we know how to approach the behavior in the future.

 

The ABCs in action! Some examples: 

  • A – iPad time is finished and you remove the iPad
  • B – The child starts crying or kicking  
  • C – You return the iPad to the child 
    • This has then reinforced the behavior, meaning that the crying is likely to occur again in the future since they were given access to the iPad again.
  • A – iPad time is finished and you remove the iPad
  • B – The child starts crying or kicking
  • C – You redirect them to another activity  
    • This has then decreased the likelihood that the crying or kicking will occur again in the future since they did not get access to the iPad

 

Want to hear from one of our ABA therapists? Check out this video! 

Now it’s your turn to try it at home! Next time you observe your child’s behavior, think about the ABCs. 

 

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