Part of parenting is managing with your child’s behaviour. Every child exhibits different and challenging behaviours, be it in the classroom or at home. However, if these behaviours are left unaddressed, they can develop into something potentially more troublesome in the future. Some examples of inappropriate behaviours are:
- Disrupting classes
- Using inappropriate languages
- Being aggressive towards the teachers or classmates
- Refuse to participate in class activities
- Destruction of property
What is Behavioural Intervention
Behavioural Interventions are steps and strategies designed to understand and help with behavioural problems among children. There is no one-fit-all method for behavioural interventions because the steps and the types of strategies to employ varies depending on the problem and needs of the child.
In order to address behavioural problems such as the examples shown above, you must first identify the root of the problem. There is always a reason why the child is behaving inappropriately. Professionals usually do a Functional Behaviour Assessment (FBA) to find out the reason for the child’s actions. In FBA, teachers and staff interview and observe the child in order to pinpoint possible causes of misbehaviour. For instance, a child tends to be disruptive and inattentive in class because they are unable to follow along with the pace of teaching. His behaviour might be triggered by underlying learning difficulties such as dyslexia or ADHD. The result of the FBA will be the basis of the Behavioural Intervention Plan (BIP) they would develop to help the child. In this manner, the behaviour can, then, be addressed properly.
Behavioural Intervention Plans are strategies designed to address a specific inappropriate behaviour. The BIP is basically a three-step process; describing the behaviour; identifying the cause of the behaviour and lastly; providing strategies to change the behaviour. It aims to modify a child’s negative behaviour by giving positive reinforcement for replacement behaviour.
After identifying the root cause of the problem, the next step is to implement the strategies for intervention. Some of which are:
Learn to identify triggers – the importance of knowing what triggers the child’s inappropriate behaviour is that you can avoid it before it actually causes a problem. For example, you are aware that your child does not like sharing toys. Before they act aggressively to their playmates, you can negotiate with them in advance on how to share toys with their playmates so everyone can play together.
Redirection/Calming – when a child starts acting up and is being aggressive towards their classmates or any family member, try to calm them down by talking to them softly. Alternatively, you can also redirect his focus by giving him toys to play or play soothing music to relieve his stress.
Ignoring non-serious behaviours – If you think the behaviour is not serious enough and does not cause any harm, try to ignore it. Sometimes, a child exhibit inappropriate behaviour to get attention. If they think that the behaviour would not help them to achieve their goal, they will eventually stop in engaging said behaviour. Attention-seeking behaviours often get worse before they eventually go away.
Discipline in private – if you must discipline your child for their behaviour, do it in private. Do not let his classmates or siblings watch. Many children see it as a challenge when adults attempt to discipline them in front of their peers. If they are seen publicly refusing to obey a teacher, young children feel like they gain more “street cred” from their peers. A child is more likely to accept discipline if his or her peers are not watching the process.
Positive Reinforcement – giving rewards and acknowledging positive behaviour is an effective way to encourage the child to show appropriate behaviours in class or at home. Giving them extra credit or simply just by praising them can help to inspire them to do good and to be good. Reinforcers can be tangible such as toys and awards, but it can also be activities. For example, you can say that if they pay attention in class, they can play playdoh or any games that they want after class. Activity reinforcers are actually the most effective as they allow the child to participate in their preferred activities with other students. This way, it also builds in social reinforcement.
Implementing behavioural interventions are usually done by professionals in a classroom setting. However, it is also important to involve parents in the behavioural intervention process because they know the child better than anyone else. They are a great help in identifying the history or causes of the behaviour since they are with them at home. The collaboration of parents and professionals is essential and vital in behavioural intervention. The professional can understand the child’s nature of behaviour more by knowing the family. The family can also learn how to participate more in the intervention by learning about the approach from the professional. This way, both can design and implement an appropriate behavioural intervention plan for the child.
Behavioural intervention plans vary with each child. It may not work immediately but it will gradually take effect. Managing a child’s behaviour is challenging but you should always be patient and stay calm. Moreover, be consistent.
PACER Center. (2014). PACER Center. Retrieved from pacer.org: https://www.pacer.org/parent/php/php-c215b.pdf
Park, J. H., Alber-Morgan, S. R., & Fleming, C. (2011). Collaborating with Parents to Implement Behavioral Interventions for Children with Challenging Behaviors. Teaching Exceptional Children, pp. 22-30.