Trick AND Treat: 3 Ways to Utilize Behavioral Momentum

As we all know, behavioral momentum is such an easy, effective tool to work on compliance and task initiation with our loved ones. (and ourselves!) You may find yourself using this strategy with your kids at home, your partner, your students, and yourselves without realizing it it's already "a thing." The key is having the "momentum" of success prior to the more difficult demand. This will increase the likelihood the learner will comply with the more difficult task. So what are some ways you can use this in the different areas of your life?


Here are some unique ways behavioral momentum can work for you:

1. With children: Children are great little guinea pigs when it comes to utilizing behavioral momentum. By requesting the child engage in high-probability (HP/easy) tasks, they begin to achieve a level of "success" with the completion of those tasks (because they are getting done, and you are praising them/providing reinforcement for their completion). After this success, you "sneak in" a low-probability request, often the task you wanted them to finish in the first place. On the surface, this may seem silly, and maybe like it won't work. But trust me: when done right, it's very effective!

2. With your colleagues: If you are lucky enough to have paraprofessionals helping you out, you and your team could benefit from some behavioral momentum strategies! For example, you may be requesting they take data frequently, but they are really struggling to be consistent with it, or even find value in taking it at all. After doing all the necessary staff training and explaining the significance of data collection, you may be employing some behavioral momentum strategies to get you to gain better compliance. Having a checklist of to-dos at the end of a period, which includes things that the staff are more inclined to do, such as: give high-fives to the child, give tokens to children who earned them toward their token board, put away materials, mark data on data sheet. (Your data will not always be able to be taken in this way. Depending on your collection method and the behavior in which you are tracking, taking data after the fact will not be beneficial. But sometimes, this can be done this way, at the very least while staff are getting used to taking data and increasing the likelihood they will engage in this in the future/making it a HP behavior itself!)


3. With yourself: It may seem hard to do this with yourself, because you are "aware" of the technique, but it can still be effective. For example, say I want to go to gym, but I'm not motivated. I will do higher probability activities such as changing into my gym clothes, taking the dog for a walk, doing some light cleaning around the house, that will get me moving and give me the momentum to go work out. Once I eliminate the issues with working out (I'm lazy and want to stay on the couch) by requesting of myself some easier tasks that I can do (such as changing into my gym clothes instead of my post-work sweatpants), it allows me to follow through and comply with my low-probability (LP) request.

Now, for your treat! Check out this print out for a step by step guide for utilizing behavioral momentum!


ABA at Play: reinforcement, social skills, ABA teaching strategies, motivating operations, behavioral momentum

How can you use behavioral momentum with your co-workers? Loved ones? Yourself?

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