In most cases, attempting to change the behavior of another person involves a bit more than a few words of encouragement or reprimand, particularly when we’re talking about the behavior of an adolescent or young adult. Parents often find themselves asking one another “what can we do differently to influence the behavior of our children?” Sometimes the go to option entails some form of punishment or penalty, but what other options do you have? Before you do anything, consider your “ABC’s”.

Behavior Analysis is a proven science with decades of comprehensive laboratory and applied research. The science is predicated on the understanding that every behavior is influenced by what comes before it (Antecedent) and what follows it (Consequence). Whether you recognize it or not, as a parent you hold the ultimate control over the antecedents and consequences being delivered to your children, and understanding the “ABC’s” is paramount to behavior change. Consider the following scenario:

Wow I’m thirsty!

A ntecedent: George sees a soda machine

B ehavior: George inserts a one dollar bill and presses “vend”

C onsequence: Out comes a cold and refreshing beverage

What can be done to alter behavior next time? Remember by understanding the “ABC’S” to behavior, we’re better equipped to change behavior in the future. Now that we’ve identified the A’s and C’s to the behavior, we can explore our options.

Manipulating Antecedents: Remove the soda machine (antecedent = George does not see the machine therefore he cannot insert the dollar bill and press vend)

Manipulating Consequences: Unplug the soda machine (consequence = no soda comes out therefore George will not insert the dollar bill and press vend in the future).

In many cases, as a parent you do have the ultimate control over the A’s and C’s to behavior. The next time you’re wondering what to do to change the behavior of your child, first ask yourself these two questions: What happened immediately prior to this (unwanted) behavior, and what did I do (consequence) as a result of it? Holding this knowledge will better equip you to successfully change behavior.



Published On: September 24th, 2012 / Categories: Blog /

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