Alarmingly, 75% of children with behavioural issues don’t receive the support they require. It’s mandatory for us adults that we ensure children’s physical and mental well-being. Children may exhibit challenging behaviours. However, they can grow into well-rounded, healthy individuals with good mental support from adults. Ultimately, a better-equipped adult will help children build the resilience to handle whatever life throws. One thing that can help you in this area is the ABC Chart for challenging behaviour. This article will comprehensively talk about the ABC model.
Table of Contents
What is an ABC Behaviour Chart?
ABC Behaviour Chart is an evidence-based observation tool. It documents what occurred before, during, and after a behaviour. In addition, it aids in understanding the origins of potentially troublesome behaviours. By using ABC Behaviour Chart for challenging behaviour, educators, parents, and carers find it easier to keep tabs on the behaviour of children and students.
We need to understand what causes or triggers particular behaviours to handle challenging behaviours. Therefore, it’d be best to divide observations into ABC Behaviour Groups. Moreover, using this tool can assist us in comprehending the motivations behind specific behaviours. Also, it may suggest more effective care and intervention.
What Does ABC Stand for in Challenging Behaviour?
The letters ABC stand for Antecedent (or Action), Behaviour, and Consequence. ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour use these three stages to determine an unexpected behaviour.
There must be something that would happen before a challenging behaviour occurs. We call that “something” Antecedent or Action. Antecedents might come into play due to specific triggers, such as hunger or fatigue.
This stage is all about the occurred behaviour itself. It involves a description of the actual conduct. In addition, behaviour requires information about what happened, what was said, how long the occurrence lasted, and how intense it was.
The consequence term describes what happened as a result of the behaviour. For instance, if a person responded to the behaviour, the child withdrew from an activity or experienced sensory stimulation.
We can identify patterns of behaviour using the data stored in the Antecedent Behaviour Consequence model. As a result, we’ll be able to create a more effective management system for that behaviour.
The “How-to” of an ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour
There are rules to using tools for understanding and handling challenging behaviour. Including the circumstances leading up to and following behaviour and the behaviour itself are essential. We must use the Antecedent, Behaviour, and Consequence (ABC) model.
An ABC Chart for challenging behaviour can be used as a component of a functional behaviour evaluation. In such an evaluation, specialists can assist in addressing the behaviour of children with disabilities and special needs. These also include endangering behaviours by children or others to the children.
You can look at the chart below to understand your required information.
Consequences can sometimes act as precursors to different behaviours. An adult’s punishment, for instance, can cause the behaviour to worsen. If so, you can list them as “Consequence” on one row and “Antecedent” on the following chart. To learn more about Consequences and Antecedents, take a look at our Classroom Behaviour Management Course – Level 3.
What is CRISIS?
It’s best to look for similar patterns in the antecedents of a finished ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour. Also, to think about the key concerns causing problematic behaviours, you may use the CRISIS strategy. The term describes Communication, Routine, Interaction, Sensory Issues, Imagination and Subjectivity.
Ask yourself – Did the child comprehend my instructions? The child may have misunderstood.
Ask yourself – Has the daily schedule changed? Have I helped the child to learn the routine?
A social misunderstanding occurs. Ask yourself – Does the child comprehend the demands placed upon them?
4. Sensory Issues
Ask yourself – has the amount of sensory inputs increased or changed?
Ask yourself – Is the child supposed to be imaginative or creative?
As yourself – Am I assuming that the child is acting in a challenging manner on purpose?
The behaviour you observe is frequently “functional”, which denotes that it serves a purpose. For example, running away from a distressing circumstance, striking out to silence someone, hiding beneath a table to block eyes, and many other actions might be considered actions with a clear goal. You can stop the behaviour from happening by determining the trigger or underlying issue, removing the trigger, or offering support.
The Classification of Behaviours
When logging behaviour in an ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour, try to be as descriptive as possible. A child’s behaviour is the action they take in reaction to a stimulus. Frequently, one of these four categories helps in classifying behaviour. You can use these categories to assist in recording the behaviour you see.
1. Sensory Seeking Behaviours
In this case, children are less conscious of how their bodies move. In addition, they lack awareness of being touched or touching items or other people. As a result, they’ll exhibit more movement to understand better where their arms and legs are. Also, they’ll seek more input to experience what they are touching.
Children experiencing sensory-seeking behaviours become restless and antsy all the time. They’ll be spinning, jumping, or otherwise moving. Also, they could exhibit behaviours like fidgeting or repeatedly plucking at their fingers.
2. Escape Behaviours
As the name implies, escape behaviours are any actions mainly taken to avoid, delay, or end an unpleasant situation. Some escape behaviours primarily serve to halt an ongoing demand.
A child could put a reaction in the past. As it seems, the response successfully prevented the first occurrence of something. Because this behaviour successfully escaped or avoided the unpleasant tasks in the environment, the child has eventually sustained or continued it. For example, you’ve asked your child to do a chore. They’ve avoided it and got away with it. So, now they’ll continually avoid doing it.
3. Attention-Seeking Behaviours
Children can display attention-seeking behaviours due to several reasons. The behaviours may involve temper tantrums, outlandish behaviour, overreacting to stuff, or playing the victim role.
4. Tangible Maintained Behaviours
It’s the kind of behaviour where children act in a way that reinforces their behaviour to acquire access to something tangible. For example, toys, food, or anything that doesn’t look like much fun can be considered tangibles. Every parent has witnessed their child go through phases of intense interest in commonplace stuff.
For example, microphones, cabinets, or even brooms can act as some surprising reinforcers. Children can become “unruly” because it earns them tangible stuff. For example, a child may act in a way that has a “tangible” function since it gives them access to an item.
Examples of Antecedents and Consequences in an ABC Chart
Here are some excellent examples of Antecedents and Consequences that you might include in your ABC Chart for challenging behaviour.
Praise refers to expressing your approval of something to your child. Praise can be positive feedback that encourages children to develop better. However, praise for doing wrong activities can lead to problematic behaviours in children.
2. Requesting a Change in Activity
Your request to change certain activities may act as an antecedent. For example, you tell the child to play video games for one hour instead of two. It could trigger a behaviour from the child.
3. Receiving a “No”
In contrast to praise, a “no” shows your disapproval of something to your child. When a child receives a “no” for something they’ve asked for, they could manifest behavioural responses.
4. Sensory Stimulation From Bright Light and Loud Sounds
These stimulations quickly grab children’s attention. It may make them overly playful or highly irritated. So, bright lights or loud sounds are antecedents to trigger children’s behaviours.
5. Playing Without Instruction
Playing without the presence of an adult or supervision of an adult may trigger behavioural responses from children.
6. Observation Made by Another Child
A child may have seen the other children doing something. Just this “observation” can activate responses from the children or the child who observed it.
7. Lack of Interest From Classmates or Teachers
Lack of interest from an adult or a friend sometimes provokes a child to experience negative emotions. For example, a child wants to show his new toy and share happiness with his friend. However, his friend offers little to no interest. It’ll make the child upset and exhibit behavioural responses.
Hunger is one of the most potent stimulators. Hunger can quickly force a child to manifest troublesome behaviours.
9. Time of Day, Energy Level, and Medication
There are instances when a human being’s emotions vary at different times of the day. In addition, the energy level drops throughout the day. Add medications to that, and boom, it’s a complex situation. All of these can negatively affect children’s minds.
10. Disturbance in the Daily Routines
Daily life becomes like a habit for anyone. Habits are strong motivators. So, children have a way of maintaining daily routines too. However, changes in those routines may cause a child to display physical or emotional responses.
11. Presence of a Certain Person
The presence of a person that a child likes or dislikes gives rise to behavioural showdowns. In addition, it can trigger previous happiness or trauma. So, it’d be best to understand that a person who negatively impacted a child in the past is not suitable for your children.
The fact that praise may follow an activity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Children who behave well can receive compliments from their parents or teachers. A child can also compliment other children for doing something amusing or fascinating.
Children occasionally do things that adults find confusing. However, certainty, as a result, can provide individuals with a sense of assurance. For instance, if your child brings a stray kitten inside from the outside but doesn’t know how to care for it. Your child is reassured that saving an animal is a noble endeavour. You might also offer the cat for adoption to someone else while promising your youngster that they’ll take good care of it.
4. Take a Break or Relax Time
You may instruct your child to take a break from an overwhelming activity. In addition, you can provide relaxation time and care for them. However, a child with ADHD might find it frustrating to be on a break.
If your child does something that can harm them or others, a consequence of confrontation will follow. For example, children may use lies to get something they want or hide information. So you’ll confront them directly about it.
Punishment can be a consequence of the worst types of behaviours. However, it’d be best to avoid giving punishments as much as possible. In addition, punishment is necessary when the child is doing harmful activities that might lead them to darker paths in future. For example, using drugs or bullying in school can be harmful activities.
When Should I Use an ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour?
You may attempt to comprehend the behaviour of children. Also, some children may have special educational needs, learning challenges, or autism. In this case, an ABC analysis will be helpful. An informal study of a particular behaviour can include completing an ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour at any time. Remember, instead of using hazy explanations, try to define the behaviour that occurs clearly. Consequently, it will be much simpler to identify patterns in your observations.
Additionally, you need to be aware that the accuracy of your conclusions could be less than 100%. Although it may not always be obvious, you can infer helpful information from the patterns you notice. However, there may be factors that you are unaware of that are upsetting or bothering the child.
History of ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour
ABC behaviour charts came into the game in response to the demand for more effective methods of behaviour monitoring. Sidney Bijou initially introduced the ABC approach in 1968. However, the concept of dividing behaviour into antecedents, behaviours, and consequences first appeared much earlier. Psychologists before drew connections between behaviour that is preceded by an action or trigger and its results.
Application of ABC Chart for Challenging BehaviourThe ABC Model is a method for identifying and analysing problematic behaviour. For example, doctors, clients, or carers seek to comprehend the “active components” of problem behaviour. In this case, ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour is a handy tool.
What the ABC Model DoesThe ABC model aids professionals by carefully examining what occurs in the person and environment. It uses instances before a target behaviour (the antecedents) and after that (the consequences). We also refer to those instances as the circumstances. In addition, interventions alter the target behaviour once we know these contingencies. “Individuals are typically unaware of the contingencies controlling their behaviour” (p.43, Persons). The model emphasises the connection between observable behaviour and its environment. In doing so, the emphasis shifts from a person’s specific diagnosis or history to changes we may make to address problem behaviour in the here and now.
How You Can Utilise the ABC Chart for Challenging BehaviourYou can use the ABC model to help parents or carers understand what is happening. In addition, it helps understand why and how behaviour occurs. It works by offering specific descriptions of what triggers or reinforces a behaviour. The goal is to construct interventions that alter or modify the causes and effects of problem behaviour. Also, it’s to treat challenging behaviours.
You can apply the ABC method in a variety of contexts.
- Counsellors who work with verbally competent adult clients
- Residential carers
- Parents who wish to understand their child’s conduct better
- Teachers who attempt to comprehend challenging classroom behaviour.
As a carer or professional, you may be working with clients who are
- unresponsive to manualised treatment,
- resistant to it,
- have multiple diagnoses,
- have limited verbal skills,
- or are unable to reflect on their behaviour
- can be a helpful place to start.
Classical & Operant Conditioning
Classical and operant conditioning provide a way to comprehend behaviours. These conditionings help study how antecedents support or maintain behaviour. Also, they tell how consequences reinforce and strengthen that behaviour.
The ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour model enables psychologists to identify an effective trigger (antecedent). In addition, it helps recognise effective reinforcers and maintainers of behaviour.
According to classical conditioning, some things elicit no reaction. For example, it can be things or events with no emotional resonance, like shoes. However, we can associate them with a trigger already established for a particular response or behaviour. For instance, children can get unhappy whenever their parent ties their shoes. This behaviour results from the growing association between the boots and the parent departing. As a result of conditioning, the shoes now cause the same reaction as the parent departing.
“Organisms learn not only what behaviours bring rewarding consequences. But they also learn something about the conditions or stimuli that indicate a reward is available.” (Persons, 2008).
Operant conditioning describes how consequences have an impact on voluntary conduct. Namely, rewarding behaviour increases the likelihood that a child will repeat it. In addition, the removal of something unpleasant or undesirable can serve as reinforcement. For example, eating chocolate after cleaning exhibits a feeling of anxiety going away.
Punishing voluntary behaviour makes it less likely to occur again. Punishment can involve the removal of something beneficial or pleasurable. For example, it can be reprimanding a child for disobeying the rules. Also, punishment can be the presence of something unpleasant or terrible. For instance, it is grounding a child for throwing food. Hence, the likelihood of repeating the conduct alters by the consequences of the behaviour.
How to Avail Information From a Behaviour
It’d best to take repeated measures to collect more trustworthy information. It also helps better understand the circumstances. These circumstances initiate, reinforce, and maintain the desired behaviour.
Your child may exhibit non-verbal or low-verbal characteristics. In that case, you must observe your child directly to complete ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour. The ABC Model can record and track covert behaviours for children who don’t describe their internal states. Covert behaviours include thoughts, feelings, and physical changes hidden from others. However, you can still sense and observe them.
1. External variables – location, company, time of day, visual and auditory inputs.
2. Internal variables – emotions, physical states, thoughts, and memories.
These variables occur before an activity. Then use the ABC Model worksheet to discover the triggers for a behaviour. It brings the activity’s short-term, long-term, intended, and unforeseen effects to light. Also, it would help if you inquired about
- the purpose of the behaviour,
- what it accomplishes,
- and how you reward it.
Example of Information in an ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour
Suppose your child has screamed in the grocery store while you are shopping. How do you identify and categorise the antecedents and the behaviour? Here’s an example to identify those.
I’m screaming in the grocery store.
How long will we be in this grocery store? I get anxious, but I don’t know why, and I cannot express it to anyone.
After school, we usually head straight home; I don’t particularly appreciate it when things change. Does this imply we won’t be returning home after all?
What am I meant to do since I don’t know what you expect of me?
Lots of people are in the store. Also, there are busy shelves, powerful aromas, and bright lights. I’m unable to manage it all.
I’ve been asked to choose a tea option for dad. Unfortunately, I cannot speculate and am unsure what you want me to say.
How Do I Take Care of the Consequences
It would help if you investigated the consequences to gain insight into potential motivators for behaviour maintenance. In addition, it gives a view of the behaviour’s short- and long-term consequences. Following are some useful filters to consider.
- Short-Term and Long-Term
- Beneficial and Ineffective
- Intentional and Unintentional
Behaviour is frequently followed by short-term consequences meant to fulfil a need or provide the child with a good sensation. This consequence reinforces the behaviour. However, if you don’t address the underlying cause of the issue, one incident can result in new issues. Therefore, it’s best to avoid unplanned and unhelpful short-term consequences that don’t coincide with long-term ones.
It’d Be Best if You Focused on These Topics to Implement Long-Term Consequences-
- Brief time.
- People and environments.
- Does the activity cause the child to move or alter their location? What does this mean, if anything?
- What happens to those in attendance? Does the child’s behaviour make them stand out to others?
- Climate, light, sound, and sensory stimulation. Are these modified, made better, or avoided?
- Does the behaviour start or stop specific events or interactions?
- Is a short-term solution found for an unmet need? (Hunger, thirst, coldness, lack of connection, calming worry, or boredom)
- What ideas and visuals cross your mind, right after the action?
- What bodily sensations follow the action immediately?
- What feelings follow the action immediately?
- Is the behaviour bringing back any memories?
- How the short-term effects affect the possibility of comparable circumstances occurring in the future.
- The hours, days, weeks, and months after the act.
- Does the environment change through time, or does it stay the same? Does the environment worsen due to the problem behaviour (for instance, triggers that are not handled or resolved)?
- How does the behaviour affect essential relationships?
- What impact does it have on friends, family, carers, and teachers?
- What effects will there be over the long term on the child’s health and happiness?
- What emotions do children have when they consider the behaviour?
- What ideas do children have regarding the behaviour?
- Are there any effects of the activities that increase the likelihood that they will repeat themselves in the future?
Consequences may develop into future antecedents in an additional ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour round or chain. For instance, binge eating can make a child more likely to restrict their intake the next day, resulting in hunger and additional binge eating.
The ABC chart for challenging behaviour is a helpful tool. You can easily comprehend the behaviour of children by utilising it. In addition, children with special educational needs, learning challenges, or autism gets help through the ABC analysis. Remember, it’s all about identifying triggers and implementing the right actions through consequences. However, the accuracy of your conclusions will never be 100%. ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour will create a path that you have to walk on your own. You’ll be able to infer helpful information from the patterns you notice in your ABC chart. The ABC Model is handy in identifying variables you are unaware of that is upsetting or bothering the child. In case you are interested in learning about ABC and behavioural management, take our Classroom Behaviour Management Course – Level 3.