Children and young people have experienced a wide range of stressors and disruptions this year which may impact their wellbeing, emotions, sleep, and consequently behaviour. Some children/students may engage in a range of challenging behaviours that they previously did not, such as school refusal or refusing to participate, and it may take time and positive support to build their sense of security again.

Isolation as a form of managing challenging behaviours could be distressing for children and should be avoided.
Having clear structure and routine, a safe space for children to access, and a strong transition plan may help with building a sense of stability when returning to on-site learning.

Children/students may engage in a range of behaviours to communicate how they are feeling, or a need or a want. Finding out what a child is trying to communicate is a key part of understanding their behaviour, and how you can support them.

The ABC approach

The ABC approach—which stands for Antecedent, Behaviour, and Consequence—is an observation tool that teachers can use to work out what happened before, during and after a behaviour1. It can help you understand what a child/student is trying to say, and what they get out of the behaviour.

A is for Antecedent

(what happens before)

This is usually a trigger, such as an unexpected transition or change to routine, being asked to do something they don’t want to do, having a negative interaction with another child or student, or feeling a certain way (e.g., frustrated or tired).

B is for Behaviour

(what happens during)

How intense is the behaviour, how often does it occur, and how long does it occur for.

C is for Consequences

(what happens after)

The consequence is what a young person is getting out of their behaviour. It may be what someone does as a reaction to the behaviour, such as giving attention or an object. It could also be the young person escaping from an activity or situation, or getting sensory stimulation.

Using evidence-based strategies (like those found on AllPlay Learn) to guide behaviour through addressing the antecedents and consequences can be a helpful approach to reduce challenging behaviour. Access the relevant strategies in the links below, or complete AllPlay Learn's Online Professional Learning Course which includes opportunities to practise and apply the ABC model.

Dyer, K. (2013). Antecedent-behavior-consequence (ABC) analysis. Encyclopedia of autism spectrum disorders, 175-180.