REDUCING BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS:
THE A.B.C. PATTERN

When trying to reduce a behavioral problem, the first step should be to identify the problem. This is done by identifying the A.B.C. Pattern.

A stands for Antecedent. What happened before the problem behavior occurred. Sometimes behaviors are caused by things happening in the environment. For example, too much excitement, stress or activity can be upsetting the person. His/her response may be to yell, pace, or act out.

B stands for Behavior, the problem that the caregiver must reduce.

C stands for Consequences. What happened after the problem occurred? Consequences sometimes act as a reinforcement for the problem behavior. If the person gets something he/she likes after the behavior, such as attention, the likelihood that the behavior will occur again is increased. Another type of consequence is escaping. Sometimes the most rewarding consequence in an uncomfortable situation is to be rid of the circumstances that we find so uncomfortable. If the person is faced with a task they do not know how to do or a situation which they find unpleasant, the person may exhibit a behavior which allows them to escape from the task or situation. For example, if the person does not want to take a bath they may cry whenever the caregiver tries to give them one which may result in the caregiver dropping the request.

By using this procedure it may help the caregiver identify potential solutions. Continue to use whatever interventions work and discard those that no longer do.

The following is an example of a Behavioral Chart to pinpoint and record behavior:


Time Date Antecedents Consequences Settin
----- ----- (What happened before behavior happened) (What happened after behavior) (where)


(1)Zarit,S.H. & Weiker, W. (unpublished) Coping with Caregiving Manual.


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