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Home » Challenging Behavior »

What to Do When Challenging Behavior Persists

If the challenging behavior continues or the behavior is severe to begin with, you may want to consider using an approach called Positive Behavior Support. Positive Behavior Support focuses on creating supportive environments for children that reflect their individual preferences, interests, needs, and strengths. This approach uses specific strategies to 1) understand the purpose of the challenging behavior, 2) find ways to replace the challenging behavior with more acceptable behaviors, and 3) prevent the behavior from occurring in the future. These are the same ideas that you can use at home. But in some situations the behavior is persistent, dangerous, or difficult to change, a more in-depth look at the situation may be needed. Speak to your child's teacher, school psychologist or pediatrician to locate a specialist who is trained and experienced in Positive Behavior Support. If your child is receiving special education services, a behavior plan for addressing the challenging behavior might be included in her Individualized Education Plan (IEP). You can speak with the IEP team to determine if your child would benefit from a positive behavior support plan.

If a plan is to be developed, the school psychologist, teacher or other professional should work closely with you and other caregivers in your child's life to conduct a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). The FBA is used to identify the purposes of your child's behavior and to develop an individualized support plan for him. Important people in your child's life will want to play an active role in developing and implementing the plan to make sure that the approach used to support him is consistent across people and settings. For more information about the FBA, read about the Evaluation Process.

What is learned from the Functional Behavior Assessment is used to develop a positive behavior support plan for your child. The positive behavior support plan, sometimes called a behavior intervention plan, should be included in your child’s IEP. Three steps are usually included in this plan. First, it will describe alternative, or replacement, behaviors that your child will be taught. For example, you and your child’s teacher can teach your child to say “no” rather than scream when someone comes too close. Second, it will describe ways to prevent the problem behavior from occurring. For example, your child may have a specific seat or seat partner on the school bus. Third, it is a good idea for the plan to state exactly when and how your child will be given praise and support as she learns new behaviors. For more information, read Assesment of Behavior Problems.


For more information, read about the Evaluation Process.

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