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Parenting Tips for Decreasing Problem Behaviors at Home

TIPS by ABA Works

Many parents struggle with compliance with their children at home, even more so if their child has Autism, ADHD, behavior challenges, or related disorders. Does your child verbally refuse every time you ask a demand? Does he/she have trouble with transitions? Does a simple direction sometimes result in a meltdown? Although increasing compliance is a skill commonly worked on in behavior sessions, there are some helpful strategies you can do at home to help lessen these problem behaviors.

Behavior Momentum

This strategy to increase compliance was suggested by Ray, Skinner, and Watson in 1999, and has shown effective results since then. Behavior momentum is a series of demands, starting with several demands that have a high probability of compliance, then quickly introducing the low probability demand. By building up to this low probability demand that has caused problem behaviors in the past, you will actually increase the likeliness of compliance due to the gained momentum.

Here are some tips on how to give the most effective demands:

  • Demands are statements, not questions (Not: “Do you want to sit down?” but “Sit down please”
  • Be close in proximity, eye contact if possible
  • Wait for your child’s attention before stating demand
  • Use clear, concise language

Try it when the goal is to have your child clean up toys (typically a low probability of compliance): “Hey Tom!” (Tom looks up to you) “Nice looking, give me high 5!” “Make a silly face!” “Super silly! Now let’s clean up the toys!”

Token Boards

The use of a token board at home is one of the most effective and versatile strategies you can use to increase compliance and decrease problem behaviors. Token boards use physical tokens to visually track reinforcement for target behaviors (the behavior you want to increase) that can later be cashed in for the prechosen reinforcer, like playing a game or taking a break. This strategy can help make clear what your child is excepted to do and when he/she will receive the reinforcement. You can easily make your own token board, or there are many options available online as free printables.

Tips for making and using a token board:

  • Use tokens that are related to your child’s interest (car shapes, Disney princesses, etc.)
  • Create clear rules for what behavior earns a token and how many tokens are needed to earn the reinforcement
  • Give your child a choice of reinforcement before starting the token board (i.e. “what do you want to work for, reading books or playing outside?”)
  • Deliver the reinforcement immediately upon completion of token board

Interested in receiving professional, customized ABA services for your family in the home, after-school program or at school? Our BCBA and staff will help with behavior challenges, developmental delays, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Disorders, ADHD or related disorders. Contact ABA Works at

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