Behavior Contract In ABA: Definition & Examples

A behavior contract is one of the solutions that teachers, parents, and therapists use with individuals, namely children, that can prolong reinforcement that's delayed.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
November 9th, 2022
2
min read

What Is a Behavior Contract?

A behavior contract is one of the solutions that teachers, parents, and therapists use with individuals, namely children, that can prolong reinforcement that's delayed. When done, the child must know the kind of behavior that is reinforced, even when reinforcement isn't accessed for some time.

behavior contract

Physically, behavior contracts are written agreements that outline behaviors and tasks that parents, therapists, teachers, and other figures of authority expect to be followed.

This typically is to be done in a set period, with a reward to the child given if they stay steadfast to all the provisions laid out in the contract.

Behavior contracts provably motivate children to do better and to help show initiative, responsibility, and the ability to monitor themselves and their behavior.

For instance, some children have a hard time staying put in their seats, begrudgingly flaying their hands and touching other children.

Some may raise their hands at inappropriate times, such as when an important exam is being administered or when a teacher's conducting a lesson.

Teachers sometimes use behavior contracts to target certain behaviors in the kids that require them. Once the contract is signed and the child knows what's at stake, such as food or a toy at the end of the period set forth on the contract, their conduct could drastically improve in ways that were previously difficult to reinforce.

Behavior contracts are beneficial with children in school, at home, and as clients. However, these contracts will work only when properly written out. 

They must take into consideration the age of the child, their grade level, and other circumstances like diagnosed behavioral disorders. The child must fully understand what's written or the entire concept will be futile.

Examples of a Behavior Contract

When a child has a hard time forgetting to not raise their hand in class, a behavior contract can carry a provision that they raise their hand fewer than four times in a single school day. When turning in completed homework is the issue, the contract could stipulate that they turn it in 90% with successful submission.

If the child abides by the stipulations of the behavior contract, they receive the reward that's specified in its writing.

Rewards that work best tend to be those that the child finds entertaining, such as time spent playing a video game that interests them. If the good behavior continues for another week, more time could be allotted for the same game or even a new video game that catches their eye.

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

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