Behavior Strategy: ABC approach

Behavior Strategy: ABC approach

The ABC Approach

Children communicate in many ways and behavior is one of them. When a child is having a tantrum it’s important to figure out the root cause. When we identify the triggers we learn to improve communication skills by teaching the child alternative ways of expressing dislike or accepting a task. To improve behaviors try using the ABC method. Behavior specialists frequently use this method and parents can do it too!

Here is what the letters stand for: 

A = Antecedent = what was happening prior to the behavior?

B = Behavior = what did the behavior look like?

C = Consequence = what happened after the behavior?

Example of an ABC chart with possible solutions:

Children misbehave for several reasons such as task avoidance, gaining attention, obtaining an object and sensory seeking needs. Because there are many reasons for misbehaving, we have to first identify the root of the problem. By doing so, you will more easily brainstorm ways to prevent the behavior by setting the stage for success. It is important to analyze the consequences in order to gain insight into things you may or may not be doing to help teach appropriate interactions.

The chart below outlines 4 functions of behavior & helpful strategies.

The key to success is remaining consistent and providing positive reinforcement when the child performs a task as expected. Keep in mind that tasks may need to be broken down into smaller units.

“Caught You Doing Something Good” method.

This method involves praising children frequently when they are demonstrating appropriate interactions. For more information on this method check out my article titled Praise: Behavior Strategy.”

The information provided in this article is designed to help you improve behavioral difficulties at home. If you feel that you need help from a behavioral specialist. I recommend that you look for an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapist in your area.

Ask yourself the ABC questions next time your child exhibits a challenging behavior. Even better, keep a log and write it down. By using the ABC method and the strategies outlined in the behavior chart above, you will begin to see improvements. Want to try the ABC method? Ask me for a blank chart in the comments section.


DiLuzio, L. (2015). What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do: Dealing With Challenging Behaviors in a Therapeutic Session. Perspect Sch Based Iss, 16(1), 11–14. doi: 10.1044/sbi16.1.11.

Johnston, S. S. & Reichle, J. (1993). Designing and Implementing Interventions to Decrease Challenging Behavior. Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch, 24(4), 225–235. doi: 10.1044/0161–1461.2404.225.

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