In this manual, you find some strategies to assist staff in developing interventions to address certain problematic behaviors. The sections are divided into specific areas (i.e. active non-compliance). Under each area there are examples of the behaviors, examples of desired alternative behavior(s), general instructional strategies that might be useful in teaching the desired behavior(s), and materials that may be useful. In addition, there is chart with specific strategies based on the function of the behavior.
The success of the intervention hinges on 1. Understanding why they student behaves in a certain way and 2. Replacing the inappropriate behavior with a more suitable behavior that serves the same function (or results in the same outcome) as the problem behavior. Behavior continues to occur because it is being reinforced. Interventions should be implemented in a systematic format.
To determine the function of the behavior, a Functional Behavior Assessment is conducted. The purpose is gather information in order to understand a student’s problem behavior. It goes beyond the “symptom” to the underlying motivation the student is receiving from the problem behavior. All behavior has a function and a trigger.
Common functions of behavior are:
Adult Attention- attention can be positive or negative and if the student is not receiving enough positive attention, then negative attention (i.e. reprimands, scolding) maybe better than no attention at all. The student may be seeking attention form peers, adults, certain individuals, or all of the above.
Escape or avoidance- The student may be escaping from something or to something. For example, a student might act out knowing that he/she will be suspended from school and can then escape from school. The student may be trying to escape a specific class or individual.
Power or Control-The student may want to dominate, be in charge, control the environment, or make the decisions. Each of us needs to be able to control aspects of out lives. The student may come from a home environment that is very structures and he/she has no choices and feels powerless in his/her own life. Or the student may be used to making all the decisions about his/her daily life because of lack of supervision or because he/she is in charge of younger siblings and is used to making the decisions.
Peer Attention and Affiliation- The student may want to be part of group, be included in group activities, maybe just have a friend or two. If the student is isolated or rejected, he/she may act out to try to impress peers or be the class clown to get at least some recognition from other students. The target student may make threats, act tough, or act like a “wanna-be” to try to impress peers.
Justice or Revenge- The student wants to get back at an individual or group for a real or imagined slight. The student may want to even the score on behalf of a friend or family member. If the has a history of struggling in school, then he/she may view all teachers as unfair and may be misbehaving in retaliation for past problems. Sometimes the “revenge” isn’t personal-the student dislikes teachers or adults in general.
Less Common functions of behavior are:
Access Tangible Rewards- the student is trying to get a tangible reward such as item, money or a privilege)
Personal Gratification- the student is seeking to feel good or to get immediate feed back and a reward.
There are several things to remember when it comes to behaviors. Remember when a student must unlearn an inappropriate behavior and learn an appropriate replacement behavior, it may take 6 to 10 times longer than if he/she only had to acquire the desired response. By focusing on the acquisition of positive behaviors it is more likely to result in long term behavior change than reliance on external controls. Instructional strategies include direct teaching of a skill, but also require opportunities for practice, reinforcement, and generalization to other settings. In giving feedback and reinforcement to students, positive statements should outnumber negatives by a ratio of at least 4:1.
Consequences for behavior (both for appropriate behaviors and misbehaviors) should be tied to the function of the behavior. When selecting consequences for a given target behavior, consider:
What function does the target behavior appear to serve for the student?
Does the student understand what behavior is expected and does he/she have the skills to display the expected behavior?
What behaviors will serve a similar function for the student-what will the student accept as a replacement behavior?
Maximize efforts to protect, preserve, and strengthen the relationship you have developed with the student; you don’t want to alienate the student or reinforce failure
Allow the student to practice the skill or strategy, and get feedback that will prevent future problem behavior.
Minimize student resistance-will the student buy in to the intervention
Be reasonable, predictable, consistent
Be natural and logical
Natural consequences-learning the hard way. There are some natural consequences that we cannot allow-a natural consequence of putting you hand on a hot stove burner. When we cannot allow the natural consequence, we may need to use a logical one.
Logical consequences-“punishment” fits the crime. For example, if a student misuses a toy, it is taken away; if the student betrays my trust, there will be a higher level of supervision until I can establish trust and responsibility with that student.