Knowing When to Ask is Key to Our Success – Pt .1

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In my practice as a behavior analyst, I like to focus on helping the children I work with to increase desirable behaviors. In order to achieve this increase in behaviors, I use reinforcement and discrimination training techniques.

When working with the child to increase these desirable behaviors, it is often valuable to note the relationship between the time a behavior and its corresponding events occur. I do this by analyzing the behavior in what is known as the A-B-C diagram. In this diagram, the A is the antecedent, or event that occurs in time just before the behavior in question, the B is the specific behavior we’d like to see more of in the future, and the C is the consequence, or event that takes place in time just after the behavior has occurred. By using at the A-B-C diagram, we can better understand the behavior and its relationship to events in time.

For example; a mom asks her daughter, Bobbie to take her cup to the sink (antecedent), Bobbie quickly takes her cup to the sink (behavior), and Bobbie immediately gets a special treat (consequence). If the rate of Bobbie’s behavior of taking the cup to the sink when mom asks her to increases in the future, we learn that the special treat worked to reinforce the behavior. This is good to know! Now we have a way to see how the behavior increased.

Whether you are a parent, teacher, or therapist, breaking the behavior and events down into these three parts is helpful. It helps us to get a clearer picture of certain behavior patterns, and also the A-B-C diagram helps us to develop tools in order to select more appropriate behaviors from the children we are near.

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