The ABCs of Behavior

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Observe and Describe

Effective Negative Consequences lesson link

Resources, Printables, and more

Find additional support to practice and teach the ABCs of Behavior at the resources link below.

Where to begin

Understanding the ABCs of behavior will help you know how to best teach your child new behaviors. Children move through behaviors in three stages: Antecedent (before), Behavior (during), and Consequences (afterward). Children can change their behaviors during any of these stages but the approach is the same. The lessons on Smarter Parenting are designed to help in all stages of child behaviors. It is important for a parent to identify which lesson is most effective at what time to optimize the greatest change in behavior for you child.

This chart helps you determine what skill you should use and when. As with most things, addressing problems before they occur (if possible) is always best. If not, parents have options on what to do when negative behavior happens.

Antecendents

Antecedents refers to things that happen before a specific behavior occurs.

If your child throws a tantrum in a grocery store, a parent can evaluate what is happening before the tantrum happens. They can ask the following questions:

What is my child doing before he throws the tantrum?

Where is my child before the tantrum?

What other things happened before my child began to have the tantrum behavior?

Answering these questions will give a parent ample opportunity to teach their child what they should do BEFORE the tantrum occurs. The skill of Preventive Teaching is most helpful in this situation.

Parenting Tip: It is recommended to try and work with your child in the area of the Antecedent. This area allows both parent and child to remain calm, and where the parent and child relationship is most powerful. This is not always possible. If your child escalates, you can use the other skills to address and teach to their behavior.

Behaviors

Once the child is behaving inappropriately it is time to correct the negative behavior using the skill of Correcting Behaviors. It is more difficult during this phase for your child to make changes to their behavior but it is possible by following the steps of the skill.

Parents should remain calm during this part of the interaction as losing their cool will aggravate the situation.

Helpful tip: Parents need to know there may be a time when teaching is not going to produce the desired result. If your child continues to be resistant beyond their ability to change, it may be best to let the issue rest. We are not suggesting you forget it. We are recommending that you wait for a time to allow you and your child to calm down before returning to it in the future.

Consequences

Smarter Parenting recommends you and your child visit the issue of their negative behavior together using the skill of Decision Making (SODAS Method)to determine a consequence for the negative behavior. We also recommend that using the skill, both parent and child, determine how to resolve the issue if it arises again. By working together, it is possible to help your child change and shape their negative behaviors for the better.

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Parenting SkillsThe ABCs of Behavior