First, the researchers observed the family on shopping trips, noting that problem behavior occurred in approximately 62% to 78% of the time intervals they observed. During these preliminary observations, the family left the store if a problem behavior (tantrum) occurred, which was what they generally did before participating in the study. These preliminary observations are referred to as “baseline” and they took place before the researchers used any strategies to reduce the problem behavior.
The researchers had two strategies that they used to help reduce grocery store tantrums: pre-teaching shopping skills and allowing the child to earn a treat for good behavior at the end of the shopping trip. Over two weeks, the researchers and parents worked with the child at home in a “mock” grocery store set-up at home. They used prompting and errorless teaching to teach the child to gather items from a grocery list and place them into a toy shopping cart.
Once she learned to gather fifteen items at home, they started practicing in a real grocery store. At first, the child was only asked to find three items, then was given a small treat if she gathered the items with no problem behavior. The number of items she was asked to shop for was gradually increased with each successful shopping trip, until she was able to help shop for fifteen items at a time. At the end of each shopping trip with no problem behavior, the child continued to receive a small treat.
How Can You Use This Research?
The researchers used several helpful strategies to help prepare this child for shopping trips including priming, shaping, and errorless teaching.
Priming is a strategy that parents can use at home to help their children prepare for upcoming activities. The idea behind priming is to preview an event before it happens. This helps the child know what to expect and feel more comfortable with the event. Priming should be a low-stress and fun activity, with lots of opportunities for the child to receive reinforcement (praise or rewards for participating in the activity). In this study, the researchers used priming by setting up the mock grocery store at home, in which the child was taught to shop for items with a toy grocery cart. For more information on how to use priming: http://www.txautism.net/uploads/target/Priming.pdf
Shaping refers to teaching a child a new skill in small steps. A bigger skill or task is broken down into smaller parts, so that child can learn and be successful one step at a time. This allows the child to be reinforced (praised/rewarded) for each small success leading to the smaller goal. This helps keep children motivated to continue learning while working on a large goal. In this study, the researchers used shaping by first having the child shop for only three items in the store before receiving her treat. When the child was successful with this, the child was asked to shop for a few more items on the next shopping trip (maybe five or six) before receiving her treat. It was increased again on the next shopping trip, maybe asking her to shop for eight items before receiving her treat. This gave the child something else to do (rather than tantrum) during the shopping trip and allowed her to earn a treat. For more information about using shaping: http://www.txautism.net/uploads/target/Shaping.pdf
Errorless Teaching is another strategy for helping a child learn a new skill used in this study. For information on how to use errorless teaching, visit these sites:
To read the complete article for more information about the strategies the researchers used, read the article:
Decreasing Supermarket Tantrums by Increasing Shopping Tasks: Advantages of Pre-Teaching
Ashley E. Greenwald, MA, BCBA
W. Larry Williams, PhD, BCBA-D
Holly A. Seniuk, MA, BCBA
Journal Publication Information:
Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions
2014, Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 56-59
Article Information: http://pbi.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/04/05/1098300713482976
The suggestions made based on the article (paragraphs 5 - 8) are from Positively Autism and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the authors or publishers of this study.
Please note that this article is for informational purposes only. None of the information presented here is intended to be used without consulting appropriate professionals, such as a medical doctor, LPC, or BCBA.