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Tantrums to Transformation: Positive Behavioral Support to Address Challenging Behaviors

positive behavioral support

We've all been there! Throwing a tantrum in the middle of a store or refusing to follow directions in a classroom. These challenging behaviors can be frustrating and overwhelming, but we can turn these moments of chaos into opportunities for growth and transformation. Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) is an evidence-based approach that focuses on understanding the function of challenging behaviors and addressing them through positive reinforcement and proactive strategies. By creating a supportive environment that meets the needs of the child, PBS helps reduce problem behaviors and promote positive development.

Let’s explore the basics of PBS, its benefits, and practical tips for implementing it in your daily routine. Get ready to transform tantrums into teachable moments!

Let’s keep it simple and try to put it all together…


Understanding the Function of Behavior

You’ve heard it said! Behavior is a form of communication; it serves a purpose for the child. To understand the function of behavior, we need to look at the Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence (ABCs) of the behavior. The antecedent is the event or situation that occurs before the behavior, the behavior is the action or response of the child, and the consequence is what follows the behavior. By analyzing these three components, we can determine the function of the behavior.

For example, a child may throw a tantrum when they are hungry, tired, or overstimulated. In this case, the antecedent is the hunger, tiredness, or overstimulation, the behavior is the tantrum, and the consequence may be attention from the caregiver or relief from the situation. By understanding the function of the behavior, we can develop strategies to address it.

The four most recognized functions are: tangible/access (I want something), escape/avoid (I don’t want something), attention/connection (I need to connect with someone), sensory/automatic (I have an internal need).

Creating a Behavior Support Plan

positive behavioral support teacher

Once we understand the function of the behavior, we can develop a behavior support plan. A behavior support plan in terms of positive behavioral support is a proactive approach that identifies the triggers, replacement behaviors, and positive reinforcement strategies to address the behavior. The plan should be individualized to meet the needs of the child and should involve the input of the caregiver, educator, and any other professionals involved in the child's care.

The behavior support plan should include clear expectations and consequences for both positive (or pro-social) and negative (“undesired”) behaviors. It should also include strategies to teach the child alternative behaviors to replace the challenging ones. The plan should be reviewed regularly and adjusted as necessary.

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Implementing Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in addressing challenging behaviors. Positive reinforcement involves providing something desirable after pro-social behavior. For example, if a child follows directions, they may receive praise or a sticker (if they like those things!). Positive reinforcement increases the likelihood of the child engaging in the positive behavior again in the future.

It's important to note that positive reinforcement should be used in conjunction with teaching alternative behaviors. Positive reinforcement alone may not be enough to address challenging behaviors, and it's important to teach the child what they should do instead of the challenging behavior.

Teaching Alternative Behaviors

positive behavioral support

Teaching alternative behaviors is an important component of PBS. It involves teaching the child what they should do instead of the challenging behavior. For example, if a child throws a toy when he wants the cookie, he can be taught to ask for it instead, whether verbally or through a visual communication system.

Teaching alternative behaviors should be done in a positive and proactive way. It's important to model and reinforce the positive behavior and avoid punishing the challenging behavior. Teaching alternative behaviors takes time and patience, but it can lead to lasting change.

Encouraging Family Involvement in Positive Behavioral Support Plans

PBS is most effective when it's a collaborative effort between the parent, teacher, and any other professionals involved in the child's care. It's important to involve the family in the process and provide them with the tools and strategies to support the child's behavior at home.

Family involvement can include regular communication, attending workshops or trainings on PBS, and implementing the behavior support plan at home. When the family is involved in the process, it leads to more consistent and effective implementation of PBS.

Common Misconceptions about Positive Behavioral Support

There are some common misconceptions about PBS. One misconception is that PBS is only for children with disabilities or developmental delays. PBS can be used with any child who exhibits challenging behaviors.

Another misconception is that PBS is a quick fix or a one-size-fits-all approach. PBS takes time and patience to implement, and it should be individualized to meet the needs of the child. The behavior support plan should be reviewed regularly and adjusted as necessary.

Resources for Further Learning

Positive Behavioral Support is an evidence-based approach that can transform challenging behaviors into teachable moments. By understanding the function of behavior, creating a behavior support plan, implementing positive reinforcement, teaching alternative behaviors, and encouraging family involvement, we can promote positive development in our students and reduce challenging behaviors.

If you're interested in learning more about PBS, there are many resources available. The Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports provides information and resources on PBS. There are also workshops and trainings available for educators and caregivers. With the right tools and strategies, we can transform tantrums into transformational moments!

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