When it comes to changing a behavior, it is important to look at three aspects: the antecedent, the behavior itself, and the consequence. The antecedent is what happens before a behavior and the consequence is what happens after a behavior. To change a behavior, most think that the consequence is the most important aspect, but this is not always the case.
Parents know their children best. Next time you observe your child engaging in a behavior that you don’t understand, think carefully about what happened right before the behavior occurred.
Sometimes taking a different approach with a change in the antecedent can help. For example, maybe a child is accustomed to hearing the garage door open prior to their parent coming in the door. One day, the child is being put down for a nap and they hear the garage door open. The child immediately fusses and cries because they want to see their parent. In order to avoid a fuss around naptime, a parent may decide to change when the child takes a nap to avoid this behavior altogether. In other words, they eliminated the antecedent. However, a parent may decide to shape the behavior from crying and fussing into a more functional behavior, such as speech! The child can be prompted, “Do you want to see mama? Tell me, ‘mama please’.” or “First, say ‘mama’ then naptime.”
In the scenario where a child is avoiding work, it is a possibility that the child is distracted by certain items in the environment. This is when observing the antecedent is important when trying to change a behavior. Removing these items before attempting work can help accomplish the desired outcome.