Behavior Strategies & Resources
When our children demonstrate challenging behavior, it can be very overwhelming. Often we find ourselves managing behavior in the short term, rather than making changes for long-term improvement. Here you will find resources to help in better understanding challenging behavior and strategies to make lasting change.
Understanding Challenging Behavior
Behavior is communication and serves a purpose. To reduce challenging behavior, we must first determine what purpose, or function, the behavior serves for the child. Some common functions of challenging behavior include:
- to gain attention (positive or negative)
- to get access to an item or activity
- to escape a non-preferred task or activity
Once we have determined the purpose the behavior serves, we can make changes to help the child learn more appropriate behaviors to meet their needs and wants. We can also be mindful not to unintentionally reinforce the negative behavior.
It is important to understand that sometimes challenging behavior can be related to other needs your child may have. Check out our other resources for more information.
Teaching Skills to Reduce Challenging Behavior
Challenging behavior does not just go away. Instead, it must be replaced with new behavior. Our goal is to teach our children positive behaviors to replace challenging behaviors. As with any skill, it is important to explain, model, practice, and reinforce the desired skill consistently. Below are some examples of skills you may help your child learn to reduce challenging behavior.
Reinforcing Positive Behavior
When your child demonstrates the behavior you want to see, it is important to reinforce the behavior by providing specific feedback on what was done well. When you reinforce the behavior, it increases the likelihood you will see that behavior again.
*Remember that negative behavior is reinforced each time it allows the child to achieve the desired outcome. Be careful to not unintentionally reinforce the negative behavior!
Making Changes to Prevent Challenging Behavior
When your child demonstrates challenging behavior, try to identify the trigger. Once you have identified the trigger, you can make a plan with your child on how to best handle the trigger in the future. It is important to see triggers from the child's perspective, not our's. Some common triggers and strategies are:
Click here for strategies to help with transitions.
- Being told "no"
Click here for strategies to help your child accept "no".
- Changes in routine
Click here for tips on establishing routines and structure.