What is an example of ABA Shaping? (+11 Additional examples)

The current blogpost will be giving you an example of ABA Shaping, along with a few others, through which you can understand this concept better. Shaping, when used as a part of Applied Behavior Analysis, can be a superb learning tool.

What is an example of ABA Shaping?

An example of ABA Shaping is ‘teaching a child the name of an object’. When the child pronounces or tries to pronounce the name of the object, the therapist or the teacher can give them a reinforcement or reward through which this behavior becomes stronger.

As you can see, Shaping is not about perfection the first time around, but simply in encouraging small steps taken towards the main aim or goal that the therapist, teacher or parent has set for the child.

Through Shaping, new concepts can be learnt and this can also be applied for behaviors. Positive behaviors can be encouraged and built upon, while negative and maladaptive behaviors can be unlearnt through small and easy steps.

While Shaping has many benefits and advantages, one limitation is that it can take a long time to learn or unlearn something. At the same time, this technique from Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the most recommended for children with special needs.

More Examples of ABA Shaping

In this section of the post, we have listed a few more examples of ABA Shaping that is often used for learning in the classroom and even in special-education.

1. Teaching a child to be more confident.

Let’s say a teacher is trying to encourage a child to be more confident in private or in a public setting. They can easily use shaping as a method to do this. Whenever the child exhibits a small act of confidence, the teacher can encourage them or even reward them.

2. Teaching a child how to walk.

Walking may definitely come naturally and most children learn the process of walking on their own. Still, walking on two legs in a straight manner is an incredible acrobatic feet when you look at the many other species who have not been able to achieve this properly.

In certain medical conditions, such as Global Development Delay, Delayed Developmental Milestones or Down’s syndrome, the child may not be walking even if they have reached the appropriate age. In this case, shaping can be used to teach them to do so.

This is often done in therapy sessions, such as Occupational Therapist. The therapist can find what rewards or motivates the child and use these to help them walk. Whenever the child gets up and takes a few steps, the therapist will reinforce the behavior through rewards.

3. Teaching the name of an animal.

Another example of shaping is teaching the name of an animal. This can especially be used in classrooms or for children who are having language development delays. Shaping can be very helpful in learning the name of an animal, since it pushes the child ahead in a gentle manner.

Let’s say that the therapist or the teacher has the aim of teaching the child to learn the word ‘elephant’. Any time the child tries to say word ‘elephant’, even if it is just the first syllable, the therapist will encourage them by reinforcing or rewarding the behavior.

4. Teaching the importance of making the bed.

Shaping can also be used to teach the child the importance of making their bed every morning. This can be used for children with special needs and even those who don’t have such needs. When a child tries to make their bed after they wake up, the behavior can be reinforced.

This can be done by the parent at home itself and can be pretty great at establishing permanent behaviors in the child. Whenever the child is making an attempt to make their bed after they wake up, the parent can reward them for the behavior.

5. Teaching a child to clean up their room.

Just as shaping can help with teaching chores like making the bed, it can also be used to teach a child to clean up their room. Cleaning a room can be a very general statement, but the trainer can make it more specific by creating goals like picking up toys from the floor.

When the child makes small attempts to match the goal, for example, picking up one toy from the floor, the therapist or the parent can reinforce and reward the behavior. They can then create more and bigger goals for the child to achieve slowly.

6. Teaching someone to play on their own.

While social play is the most common type of play, independent play is also an important skill for a child to develop. Shaping can be used to encourage a child to play on their own through rewards and reinforcements.

7. Teaching a child to study on their own.

Doing homework or studying on their own is another skill that children need to develop as part of their growing independence. Studying is another general skill set, but when the child tries to do a small part of it like solving a math problem without help, this can be reinforced.

To help the child learn subjects by themselves without any adult supervision, the parent can use shaping in addition to many other techniques and strategies, like imitation, role-playing, modeling, chaining, etc.

8. Encouraging a child to complete their hygiene-routine.

Taking care of their hygiene can also be taught through the technique of shaping. Whenever the child exhibits some action related to self-hygiene, such as brushing their teeth without any external cues, the act can be rewarded.

If the trainer or the parent is breaking the activity up into very tiny bits, such as the very act of picking up the toothbrush, this can also be reinforced or rewarded. The child will be then motivated to complete more steps from the activity, thus completing the action.

9. Helping a child make more eye-contact.

Eye-contact may be a pretty normal thing but in terms of Autism Spectrum Disorders, this can be challenging and difficult. However, eye-contact is important for social interaction and effective communication with others.

In children, the act of making eye-contact with others can be encouraged and motivated by shaping. For instance, whenever the child looks up at the face of the other person, they can be rewarded which will further encourage the behavior.

This can be repeated until the child makes full eye-contact with the person they are communicating or playing with. The rewards and reinforcements can be chosen based on the likes and dislikes of the child.

10.  Reducing self-harming behaviors.

Self-harming behaviors are common in children who are autistic, who have ADHD or children who are showing signs and symptoms of depression. Since children find it hard to understand logical reasoning all the time, shaping can be used to protect them from self-harming behaviors.

When the child is attempting to stop themselves from harming themselves through behaviors like head-banging, this behavior can be motivated through reinforcements and rewards. In time, the child will learn to control their self-harming behaviors.

11.  Teaching a child good manners.

Good manners can also be taught to a child through the process of shaping. This can be broken down into different parts, such as greetings, showing gratitude, apologizing, etc. When the child is attempting a certain behavior, this can be rewarded and reinforced.


The current blogpost has given you an example of ABA Shaping, along with a few others, through which you can understand this concept better.

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