Antecedent, Behavior, & Consequences (ABC) for goal setting   


When helping students set and achieve mastery oriented behaviors is is sometimes useful to analyze their behavior. One way  to do this is to think about what happens before (antecedent), during (behavior) and after (consequences) their behavior.

Information here explores each of these times and suggestions and guidelines for processing and imposing consequences to help people choose mastery oriented behaviors.  


Antecedent - Actions (external) or thoughts (internal) that comes before a behavior. May or may not be observable.

Antecedent examples


Behavior is the actions a person uses. What they say or do.

Behavior Examples:

Behaviors can be though of in different ways:

Misbehavior or self-limiting is acting in a way that creates problems and or puts one or more people at risk.

Compliant or defiant.


Consequence - The result, outcome, effect, aftermath of any behavior.
Natural: the natural outcome, result, effect or aftermath of any behavior.

Consequences can be considered as:

Common or natural consequences  occurrences that result as an outcome or aftermath math of a behavioral action. The price a person pays for their actions:

Logical consequences  are outcomes that are obvious, resulting from sound thinking, and directly connected to the behavior. Imposed externally, such as:

Given consequence is a logical outcome revealed ahead of time resulting from sound logical thinking before initiating the behavior.

Suggestions and guidelines for processing & imposing consequences

It is helpful to have guidelines to considered when imposing consequences for misbehavior.

Guidelines can include goals for using consequences and how to select them.

Goals such as:

An initial conversations might be started with something like:

The decisions you make are choices:

Right now this is a small problem.

If you choose to not follow the class code of conduct, you are choosing to create conflict.

I’m hoping you’ll choose to learn mastery oriented behaviors to solve problems that do not create conflict.

I’ll give you a minute to think about your choice and I’ll be back for your answer. 

To review the appropriateness of an imposed consequence use some guiding principles such as, is it:  reasonable, respectful, appropriate, and possibly be helpful.  Other  suggestions: 


  1. Reasonable
  2. Simple
  3. Valuable
  4. Practical
    From: Kids Are Worth It by Coloroso

Four Rs

  1. Related
  2. Respectful
  3. Reasonable
  4. Revealed
    From: Positive Discipline in the Classroom by Nelson, Lott & Glenn


 by Dr. Timothy Sharer


Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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