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A Parent’s Guide to Behavior Management: It all starts with the ABC’s ”. Dr. Jeffrey S. Selman Licensed Psychologist Board Certified Behavior Analyst Director of Clinical Services – JSS Behavioral Services www.JSSBehavioral.com. Presentation Overview. What is Behavior?

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A parent s guide to behavior management it all starts with the abc s

A Parent’s Guide to Behavior Management: It all starts with the ABC’s”

Dr. Jeffrey S. Selman

Licensed Psychologist

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Director of Clinical Services – JSS Behavioral Services


Presentation overview
Presentation Overview

  • What is Behavior?

  • ABC’s of Behavior

  • Principles of Behavior

  • Techniques and Strategies

  • Questions and Review

A note from our sponsor
A Note from our Sponsor…

This presentation is brought to you by the letters “B” and “F”…

“Behavior – human or otherwise – remains an extremely difficult subject matters”

B.F. Skinner, 1969

On parenting
On Parenting…

  • Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories. ~John Wilmot

  • No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. ~Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, 1986

What is behavior
What is Behavior?

  • Everything that people do (actions; things you can see or hear)

  • Behavior is learned…over time

    • “shaping”

  • Behavior occurs for a reason. It does not happen randomly

    • “function” vs. “form”

What is problem behavior
What is Problem Behavior?

  • Behavior that poses a danger or harm to self and/or others

  • Behavior that causes property damage

  • Behavior that interferes with an individual’s ability to learn and function in society

  • Behavior that if not reduced, will decrease opportunities for an individual to contact reinforcement

    Our goal is to increase the amount of reinforcement in the child’s environment!

Functional assessment
Functional Assessment

  • Allows us to understand why an individual engages in a specific behavior

  • Looks at the interaction between the child and his/her environment; what variables were in place before and after the behavior began

  • Most often individuals engage in behavior to

    • Obtain object/activity/food

    • Obtain attention

    • Escape/avoid something

    • Self-stimulation

Abc s of behavior
ABC’s of Behavior




The ABC model helps identify the reinforcer/consequence that is maintaining the behavior

  • What purpose does it serve?

  • What happened before (antecedent)

  • What happened after/what consequence(s) occur following the behavior that is maintaining or decreasing it?

A b c model
A-B-C Model

  • A= Antecedent

    • What was the setting or the event that occurred before the behavior started

      Think about…

      When did the behavior start?

      Who was there when the behavior started?

      Where did the behavior occur?

A b c model1
A-B-C Model

  • B= Behavior

    • What specifically occurred?

      Examples of common problems:

      Hitting, throwing things, crying, running away from adults, spitting, kicking

      Define broader problem behaviors:

      Physical aggression: Any instance of hitting, kicking, or attempts at hitting or kicking

      Demand refusal: Any instance of ignoring or saying “no” to work demands, requests, or walking away from demands or requests

A b c model2
A-B-C Model

  • C= Consequence

    • What happened after the behavior started?

      Think about…

      What happened immediately after the behavior started?

      How did you (or the other people) react?

      Did the incident result in any long term consequences?

Reinforcement and punishment
Reinforcement and Punishment

  • Positive Reinforcement

  • Negative Reinforcement

  • Punishment

    Positive and Negative does not mean good or bad!


Anything following a behavior which increases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again…

Positive Reinforcement – a stimulus that when presented immediately following a behavior increases the future frequency of the behavior

Negative Reinforcement - a stimulus that when removed immediately following a behavior increases the future frequency of the behavior



Anything following a behavior which decreases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again…

…if it doesn’t decrease the behavior in the future, can we still call it punishment?

Questions about punishment:

Does punishment work? - meaningful, immediate, consistent

What are some problems with punishment?


Why do problem behaviors occur
Why do problem behaviors occur?

Individuals engage in problem behavior because their behaviors have produced reinforcementin the past and over time…

Putting it all together:

“Due to a history of socially-mediated negative reinforcement, Kara will hit, kick and yell when transitioning from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity”

“When JJ wants access to a preferred item (toy, computer) that he cannot have, JJ will verbally aggress or tantrum due to a history of socially-mediated positive reinforcement.”

Behavior interventions
Behavior Interventions

  • Evidence-based

  • Data-driven

  • Effective!

  • Research validated to use with children, adults, families, individuals with Autism, ADHD, ODD, Intellectual Disabilities, other psychiatric disorders, in clinics, in school settings, homes, communities, etc…

Principles of behavior management
Principles of Behavior Management

  • Considerations:

    • “Should” world

    • Consistency

    • Anticipation

    • Meaningfulness

    • Frequency

    • Balance

    • Immediacy

    • Being specific

    • Pair, Pair, Pair! Environment, people, etc

      • chocolate chip cookie vs. fig newt0n

    • Differential Reinforcement

    • Intermittent Reinforcement

Antecedent interventions
Antecedent Interventions


  • Environmental accommodations

  • Visible Schedules

  • NoncontingentReinforcement

    • Contact reinforcement right away!

  • Give effective commands/requests

  • High P, Low P request sequence -Behavior Momentum

  • Functional Communication Training

  • Pairing/Rapport building

  • Identify high-risk situations

Reinforcement interventions
Reinforcement Interventions

  • Praise and Positive Attention

  • “Catch him/her being good”

    • Always pair praise with items/edibles

  • Premack Principle (if-then)

  • Contingency Contracts

  • Cue and Review

  • Token Economy

  • Group Contingency

    • Independent: Reward for only those who complete task

    • Dependent: Hero! Reward for all based on one

    • Interdependent: individually and as a group


  • Response Cost

    • Bonus Response Cost

  • Time Out from reinforcement

  • Extinction (planned ignoring, maintain demand)

  • Block and Ignore

  • Important considerations regarding punishment:

  • Reinforce and enrich time-in environment (increase positive reinforcement in child’s environment)

  • Always consider combining with positive reinforcement procedures

  • Consider how intense behaviors are, plan ahead, and monitor interventions

  • Teach new skills! Make sure child knows what to do, not just want not to do

Reward first downs not just touchdowns
Reward First Downs, Not Just Touchdowns!

Can solve problems/learn new behaviors through shaping – reinforcing small approximations of desired response

Final thoughts
Final Thoughts…

  • Remember…

    • Pay attention to good behavior and give plenty of positive feedback

    • Increase the amount of reinforcement in your child’s environment

    • Differential Reinforcement

    • Remain consistent, meaningful, balanced, and immediate with your consequences

    • Try to anticipate problem behaviors (high risk situations) and have a plan

    • Self care!!!

Contact information
Contact Information

For copies of this presentation and ABC forms:


JSS Behavioral Services

A Center for Family-Focused Behavioral Care

Jeffrey S. Selman, PsyD, BCBA-D, NCSP

Co-Founder/Director of Clinical Services

9225 University Blvd phone: (843) 637-4322

Suite E2A fax: (843) 793-3691

North Charleston, SC 29406 email: [email protected]