The ABC's of Behavior

Session 1


Session goal:  At the end of this session, you will be able to advance your parenting skills by using the "ABC framework" to understand your child's behavior.

Please meet our parent coach.

Here, the desired target behavior is the child's use of language to express his desire for  something.


What is the antecedent?
What event directly leads to the child saying "juice"?
What is the consequence?
What events happen as a result of the child saying "juice"?


  • The important point here is that the mother makes the statement, "Say, I want juice" (A). This leads to the child saying "juice" (B), which results in the mother immediately rewarding him with the juice (C).
  • Note how the reward (juice) naturally relates to the behavior (asks for juice).  An unrelated reward would be something like an M&M, or a chip, or even a token that he could "cash in" for a reward later on.

Extra credit!

Here is the same scene with a slight twist.

  • Note how the mom sets up a learning opportunity and then maintains control of the learning opportunity by keeping the juice just out of the child’s reach, so the child must ask her for it.  If the cup were near the child, the child would not have to engage with his mom to have a drink; there would be no chance for a learning opportunity.