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Everything is NOT done for attention!

If you have not already, I encourage you to read our post “Is everything done for attention?” Click here to Read the post!


As we have already learned in our last post, there isn’t only one reason your child engages in behaviors. This means, that there is not only one way to treating the behavior!


Lets review the four reasons behavior therapist have for why we engage in particular behavior:

Attention: “I am engaging in this behaviors because I want attention.”

Tangible: “I am engaging in this behaviors because I want an item (i.e. IPad, toys, certain food.)”

Escape: “I am engaging in this behaviors because I want to get out of a demand.”

Sensory: “I am engaging in this behaviors because I enjoy it (physiologically, i.e. stimming).”

As we go through this post, I may mention that a behavior is “maintained” by one of these four reasons. This means that this can be the reason for their behavior!


How do I determine what maintains my child's behavior?

Once you are working with a behavior analyst, it is great to speak with them and ask them "What is the function of my child's behavior." They may have already completed a Functional Analysis (FA), which will let us know, "What maintains your behavior? What is the function?"


What do I do once we found out?

Once you have determined what maintains your child's behavior (the function), then we look at "what now?" Well, this can be a complicated answer. However, we can break it down into two tips:

(A) Teach a new, more appropriate way of gaining their desires


Attention: New behavior that will gain my attention

Tangible: New behavior or appropriate communication that will get you your iPad

Escape: A behavior or appropriate requesting that asks for a way out of the demand (Note: This is to start, as the skill of waiting and accepting no will need to follow with time)

Sensory: A more socially acceptable behavior that provides the same sensory result (teach a replacement behavior)

(B) Make sure that the inappropriate behavior does not get what it wants.

Attention: I assure that I am not giving positive or negative attention to the inappropriate behavior (ignoring)

Tangible: Do not provide the client with the item, unless they engage in a. more appropriate behavior.

Escape: Assure that they are not freed from the demand. The expectation is that they will complete the demand, so the parents should be sure to continue to prompt until the task is completed (Tip: This is not easy to do. So prior to any demand, make sure you can follow through! Assure you are in the right time and place. Planning is key!)

Sensory: Many parents and therapist attempt to block the clients when stimming or engaging in other behaviors that are self stimulatory. Be mindful, that doing this without a replacement behavior can be difficult and harmful (emotionally) to a child. Try to find a replacement behavior first and redirect them to assure that the previous behaviors are not getting maintained by the physical enjoyment of the behavior.


Remember parents, the goal is always to create new behaviors that are more socially acceptable, one that will not get them in trouble, and one that will allow them to come in contact with the most reinforcing environment! We want them to live great, full lives, filled with them knowing the behaviors they must engage in that will benefit them best.

Note: Always consult with your behavior analyst before implementing any changes in your protocols. For more tips and information, please contact us @ to schedule a consultation with one of our licensed - behavior analyst.

About the Author

Daisy Monterroso, M.S

Ms. Monterroso has worked with a diverse population for over 8 years. Daisy finds her passion in assisting families manage behavioral concerns, reunify their connections and encourage parents to feel empowered and confident when parenting. Daisy has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of Florida and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. Daisy is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy at Nova Southeastern University.

Daisy founded Monterroso Integrative Services, INC to provide the community with quality ABA services that focus on providing unique services for the family as well. She has brought together a team of professionals that share her passions and devotion to helping families. Daisy has experience in behavior analysis (ABA), individual psychotherapy, couples counseling, family therapy, life coaching and parent coaching, while working extensively with families struggling with their children’s behavioral concerns, anger concerns, aggression, school-related concerns, motivational issues, and social skills deficits. She believes each person in the family has an integral part in treatment and works extensively with parents to help develop skills necessary to increase compliance with their children. She has found that supporting parents has been the most successful way of encouraging change in a family’s home. With parent training and parent coaching, Daisy provides a strength-based approach to empower parents to develop the skills to help them be the parents they desire to be.

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