Strategies to Help Manage Challenging Behaviours

We are talking about challenging behaviours. These are the ones that impede learning or cause harm. Our children engage in them because of a skill deficit and/or not knowing what the appropriate behaviour should be.  This list may make it look easy. It most certainly is NOT. It will take time, patience, and consistency.

1. Pick ONE “inappropriate” behaviour (something that is measurable and observable) to change.

2. Observe that behaviour (frequency, duration, intensity). Use ABC (antecedent, behaviour, consequence) data sheets.

3. Identify the antecedents (triggers) and implement preventative strategies whenever possible.

4. Answer the question “WHY?” (why is the behaviour happening? what does the individual get out of the behaviour? what is the function of the behaviour?)

5. Pick a replacement behaviour (what would you rather see the individual do in that situation? does the replacement behaviour serve the same function?)

6. Teach that replacement behaviour (remember to break down that behaviour – use modeling and teach in calm, controlled environment)

7. Remind/prompt the individual to do the replacement behaviour (use visuals).

8. Reinforce the individual EVERY TIME they do the replacement behaviour.

9. Have a back up plan ready in case the inappropriate behaviour occurs (remember to be NEUTRAL).

10. Try your plan consistently for at least 2-4 weeks. Some behaviours need longer. You may also see a rise in challenging behaviours before seeing any positive results.

11. When the plan does work, fade out your reinforcements and prompts. If the plan doesn’t work, change what YOU are doing and/or re-evaluate the function.

NOTE: It is also a good idea to consult with someone who is trained and has experience in the area of behaviour management for advice and help with developing a behaviour plan.

(From Peel Behavioural Services)


Functions of Behaviour

A-B-C data collection form

Replacement Behaviours

Challenging Behaviours Tool Kit

Challenging Behaviour Post Series




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