Have you ever felt if you could just understand your child (or student’s) challenging behavior, you’d be better able to help them? The ABCs of behavior (also known as the three-term contingency) is one of the easiest ways to discover why a challenging behavior is occurring.
What does A-B-C stand for?
The ABC in a three-term contingency stands for antecedent, behavior, and consequence. Antecedents come before a behavior. The behavior is the observable and measurable action, and the consequence is the response that follows that behavior.
How does knowing the antecedent, behavior, and consequence help me understand why a behavior is happening?
Do you remember a while back I posted about the functions of behavior? If not, you can read more about it here.
Once you know what factors are triggering and maintaining a behavior, you’ll see patterns start to develop. Then, you can choose and reinforce an appropriate replacement behavior that meets the same need.
Don’t forget, sometimes words in a behavioral context might have a slightly different meaning.
How can I track antecedents, behaviors, and consequences?
One word, DATA. Data collection is one of the most critical steps in the behavior change process. ABC data is a direct observation method. It is also one of the first systems I implement when consulting with a new client.
Data is often collected over several days to weeks. Many people use a printable data sheet, however, some may also use a digital collection tool (like a Google Form).
Whether you are looking to try collecting ABC data for the first time or just looking for a few new data sheet options; this resource is for you.
After collecting the data, a BCBA typically analyzes it to find patterns and to make a hypothesis about why a behavior(s) is occurring. The results are then used in several different ways. Some examples include conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA), writing a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP), or developing specific behavior reduction programs.
You can read more about the differences between an FBA and a BIP by clicking here.
The biggest thing to remember when taking data is…
But, sometimes it is so hard to write everything down, especially when a student is engaging in challenging behavior!
Like you, I am trying to move away from traditional paper, pencil methods. Digital data collection is typically much faster, and also a lot less obvious to a student.
I recently found a way to make accessing an ABC data sheet on Google Forms even easier, with the help of QR codes.
All you have to do is create a QR code and link it to that student’s data sheet.
I even posted a video on YouTube walking you through how to create and use a QR code for digital data collection. You can check it out by clicking here.
Regardless of how you choose to collect data on behavior, the ABCs are the way to go!