Leading and Caring for Children

Change the Consequences

Six choices. That’s it.

Each of the six has its own separate page, which makes navigation a problem. Each opens in sequence by clicking the next link at the bottom of the page. If you read in sequence you will get through this loop and return safely. If you want to skip around you can select the consequence type using the links below.

Joy or Suffering

We are all concerned about the consequences of what we do. A paycheck is an important consequence for many of us. We see when those we are talking to smile and attend to us or look away and change the subject. We care when we feel a sense of accomplishment when we complete something difficult. I care about the feedback I get from these pages and check the metrics to see. All these are payoffs, consequences that usually have an effect on what we are likely to do in the future.

We may be aware of these consequences in ourselves. That’s one thing, but implementing changes in the consequences for others, such as the children we are talking about, is worthy of study. Generally speaking, the consequences that are usually maintain patterns of dysfunctional behavior are three. You saw them listed in the A-B-C patterns of Sandy, Jeremy, and Charlie. Something must be rewarding to them or they would not continue the unpleasantness.

    Hugs, smiles, interest, listening, and laughing are attention, so are coaxing, chasing, scolding, frowning, arguing, restraining, lecturing, reasoning with, and even eye contact.  Each of these implies this message: because of what you just did, I am reacting to you.
    You may have known classmates in school who were not very successful. Not understanding and not being able to do the work you have at your desk can create anxiety and anger. By deliberately being disruptive they can channel that anger into action and possibly get sent out of the room, escaping the frustration of assignments. You may have experienced how many children stay up past their bedtimes because their parents could not put up with the child’s behavior. Well timed crying, tantrums, and arguments may just get them off the hook of having to go to bed.
    The infant who cries after being fed, changed, and comfortable just may find themselves freshly entertained — being jiggled, getting a toy, or even walking around to see something different. Grow a bit older and a child may find that screams and tantrums just may keep the television on longer. The Great Grocery Gambit: misbehaving with the displays, running away, and crying just may get you a lovely offer of a treat that they would have forgotten to give. “If you stop crying you can ride the horsie.”

It doesn’t matter which of these are going on. The consequences have to be changed to something else. What is now going on is obviously ineffective, but we also have to keep in mind that we can’t change the child. There are no buttons to push or knobs to turn. All we can actually change is ourselves. 

Deny Activities
Time Out
Personal Record
Positive Practice


  1. Specify the behavior exactly
  2. Take a before measure
  3. Identify the A-B-C pattern


  1. Change the consequences
  2. Pick a new behavior to reward
  3. Change the antecedents
  4. Continue to measure

Examples of SandyJeremy, and Charlie

Next Ignore