Behaviour Modification—ABC

Post date: 13-Nov-2017 13:13:32

ABC chart

Parent Management Training II/IV

Piyali Misquitta, MA Clinical Psychology - Leader

Nishtha Budhiraja, MA Clinical Psychology - Therapist

Shreya Joshi, MA Clinical Psychology - Therapist

Antecedent-Behaviour-Consequence—ABC model of behaviour analysis was introduced in the second Parenting group session. In the ABC model an antecedent is something that comes before behaviour, and may trigger that behaviour. A behaviour is anything an individual does. A consequence is something that follows the behaviour.

A child strolling in the mall with his parents comes across an aisle of chocolate bars (antecedent). He throws a tantrum (behaviour), insisting his parents buy the chocolate for him. The parent buys the chocolate to quiet the child (consequence). The parent’s attention to the tantrum, and buying the chocolate for the child reinforces or rewards the behaviour of throwing a temper tantrum. This model is very helpful to identify problem behaviours; to modify them and to focus on the positive ones by reinforcing the desired behaviour.

Parents were first asked to identify undesirable behaviour and think of a desirable behaviour that they would like to substitute; it with.For example ‘unsatisfactory study time’ to ‘daily study time for half an hour’ , 'getting into fights' to ‘playing cooperatively’. Any behaviour tending towards the desired behaviour should be rewarded, to reinforce it. Immediate reinforcement can be given like praise, or a reward sheet can be used to keep a track of the desired behaviour (e.g give them stars, or points) on a daily basis. At the end of the week, the child can be rewarded with something that he/she is quite fond of, e.g a comic book, toy, or game, depending upon the total sum of points earned.

The desired behaviour can be directed using a conducive antecedent. For example changes in the daily time table can be made upon discussing with the child, and constructive prompts or instructions can be given to him/her to bring out the desirable behaviour. The instructions given should be short or given in parts, should have minimal words and be more action oriented , negative sentences should be avoided (e.g Don’t talk so loudly’, Don’t throw your things everywhere’). Instructions can be rephrased to ‘talk softly’, ‘good girls keep their things neatly’.

Once the child is able to pull off simpler tasks of the desired behaviour, the difficulty of the task can be raised or the reward can be upgraded. This way the child is not overwhelmed by a parent’s expectation to ‘do’ the desired behaviour immediately, and has a lasting pay off.

The ABC model equips parents with skills to manage undesirable behaviours and facilitate change to desirable behaviours in children with ADHD.