Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

January 23, 2015

Child psychologists teach the ABCs of managing behavior in kids


The Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (ABC) behavior management method is one of many features of Applied Behaviroal Anlaysis (ABA)

In this method, a behavior is a specific action that a person does that can be observed. 


Behavior–Tommy calls out in class. (concrete and measurable)

Not a behavior–Julie is disruptive.

In order to change a behavior, you first need to understand the chain of events that determine what will happen with a specific behavior in the future.

A=Antecedent:  Situation that comes BEFORE a behavior.  This sets the stage for a behavior to occur.  This can be an immediate setting event (i.e., parent request) or a long-term setting event (i.e., did not sleep enough the night before).

B=Behavior:  The actual behavior that is observed.  It is important to observe the behavior and determine if your child is having a skill or performance deficit.  A skill deficit is when the child does not have the skill in his/her repertoire.  A performance deficit is when the child has the skill but does not choose to use it.  It is also important to identify the correct behavior and what function the behavior is serving your child.

C=Consequences: What happens immediately following the behavior.  This can occur naturally or be planned.  The type of consequence that follows a behavior will determine if the behavior will occur more frequently or less frequently in the future.

With careful observation and documentation of the ABC’s, one can start to better understand the behaviors, the chain of events, and the factors that are contributing to the behavior.  

Need help implementing this method?  Call 704-541-9080 to schedule an intake with one of our child psychologistsClick here to read more about our counseling services.