Schedule your Free Consultation


Part One: Managing Problem Behaviors in the Community (ABCs of Behavior)

Written by: Joshua Sleeper

Managing Problem Behaviors in the Community is a 3-part series focused on providing resources for families of an individual with special needs. 

Most any parent knows that raising a child comes with its fair share of unique situations and challenges, especially when those challenges present themselves in public.

The reality is that behavior can be hard to control without the proper guidance, and parents of a child with special needs may face elevated problems of all types in both scope and frequency.

Trumpet’s team of clinicians and therapists are highly trained in providing problem behavior management skills. Our team knows that by developing a foundation for why problem behaviors occur, we can help guide the outcome of a situation for children of all developmental abilities.

LEARN how we help assess for behavior issues iStock_000006781289XSmall


Three key questions are central to learning basics of problem behaviors:

  • Why is the behavior occurring?
  • How do I best respond to the situation?
  • What skill can I teach to replace the problem behavior?

Each of these questions will be discussed in greater detail below.

Step 1 – Understanding Why a Behavior Occurs

First and foremost, you need to establish WHY the behavior is occurring. Behavior comes from the child’s environment; areas where they are exposed to other people and situations. Behavior is first developed and then continues because it gets the child or person something he/she wants. In other words, the behavior “works” for the individual.

First Person Examples:

  • Brother has a toy I want > I bite brother on his arm > brother drops toy and runs away. I get toy! Mission accomplished!
  • Mom says to clean up toys > I scream and hit mom > Mom cleans up toys for me while singing the “cleanup song.” I love the cleanup song….

Bottom Line? If a challenging behavior is occurring, the environment is supporting it somehow. This is GOOD because it means we can change the iStock_000011256895Large

Step 2 – Knowing Your ABCs

In practicing the principles of behavior analysis, look for the ABCs of behavior. That is:

A: Antecedents (what happens before the behavior)

B: Behavior (what actually happens)

C: Consequence (what happens after the behavior)

Antecedents include things like telling a child his/her playtime is over, which leads to screaming and tantrums. Another example would be asking a child to put on his/her shoes, at which point they say “NO” and stomp away! Whatever the situation, it’s the action that causes the behavior to occur.

Behavior is the action that occurs, such as the tantrum or behavior issue. Simple enough!

Consequence, the third and final part of the behavior, is the thing that reliably happens after the behavior. Knowing the consequence helps identify what the person gets for engaging in the behavior.

Samples of consequences from the examples above could be a child getting five more minutes of play time, or the child having mom/dad put their shoes on for them.

Stay tuned for Part Two of ‘Managing Problem Behavior in the Community’ which we will share on the TBH blog Friday, June 26th.