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Understanding Why Children Engage in Challenging Behavior Developing Positive Effective Strategies. Positive Behavior Support. Amy McCart, Ph.D. Learning Disabilities of Kansas Conference November 7, 2008. Agenda. Understanding Positive Behavior Support How does behavior work?

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understanding why children engage in challenging behavior developing positive effective strategies
Understanding Why Children

Engage in Challenging Behavior

Developing Positive Effective Strategies

Positive Behavior Support

Amy McCart, Ph.D.

Learning Disabilities of Kansas Conference

November 7, 2008

  • Understanding Positive Behavior Support
  • How does behavior work?
  • Understanding the functions (or reasons) for problem behavior
  • Developing effective intervention strategies using the Behavior Analysis and Intervention Summary (BAIS)
  • Parent tools (Keys and Home)
positive behavior support
Positive Behavior Support

PBS involves comprehensive multi-component support that focuses on:

  • Preventing problem behavior
  • Using of research-validated practices
  • Teaching new skills
  • Enhancing quality of life
  • Assessing the reasons for problem behavior and redesigning environments and challenging contexts
  • Embedding intervention into natural routines
  • Person-centered support
the abcs
The ABCs
  • Behavior – observable response
  • Antecedents – what happens before the behavior (can function to trigger behavior)
  • Consequences – what happens after (can reduce or increase the likelihood of behavior through the principles of reinforcement and punishment)
setting events
Setting Events

Conditions or circumstances that increase the likelihood of problem behavior

Setting events “set the stage…”

setting events1
Setting Events
  • Can be due to social, environmental or physiological factors
  • May or may not immediately proceed the behavior
  • Examples may include: lack of sleep, sickness, medication changes, stressful experiences, cultural issues, history and family experiences

Can increase the

Likelihood of Behavior


Can decrease the

Likelihood of Behavior








Problem behavior occurs to accomplish the following







Sugai & Horner, 2001

  • Let’s use the BAIS: Behavior Analysis and Intervention Summary to develop an effective multi-component intervention to address the example provided earlier
applying what you know
Applying What You Know

With an example from your experience identify the following:

  • How behavior works?
  • How to determine the function (or reason) for problem behavior
  • Develop effective intervention strategies using the Behavior Analysis and Intervention Summary (BAIS)
elements of effective interention strategies
Elements of EffectiveInterentionStrategies
  • Layers of Support
  • Includes choice
  • Touches on individual, group and class-wide
  • Includes lots of positive components
  • Immediate elements of reinforcement
  • Consistent
  • Considers context
changing the focus of control
Changing the Focus of Control
  • Effective teachers recognize that the only behavior they can directly control is their own
  • First thing to do when you encounter a student with problem behavior is NOT to focus on changing his/her behavior but focus on changing your own teaching behaviors

Utah SIGNAL Project

Utah State University

tickets to success
Tickets to Success
  • Describe problem behavior
  • Figure out why it occurs (that is, the reason for (or “function” of) the problem behavior
  • Choose some positive intervention strategies using the questions on the back as a guide
intervention ideas to consider
Intervention Ideas to Consider


Can I change the environment, or routine or schedule to change this behavior?

Can I reward or acknowledge a positive behavior instead?

Can I teach a new skill to replace this behavior?

Can I think of more than one way to address this behavior in a positive way?

What can I do to prevent this behavior in the future?


Harmony in The Home

Key Settings and Core Behavioral Strategies for the Home

Focus Child: _______________________ Date: _________________

Home Setting: ________________________

1) Sketch out a diagram of how a problematic home setting (room, area, floor of the house, outside area) is set up on the back of this page. What changes can be made to make is less problematic environmentally (increase visual supervision, support active engagement in activities, etc.)

2) Record a typical daily schedule, include transition times as specific activities.

3) Decide what your clearly defined behavioral expectations will be for your home. What do they look like and not look like in this specific environment.

4) Select a motivation system for your home or this specific environment, using a layered positive based motivation system; try not to rely on one system.

5) Establish clear steps to deal with behavioral concerns when necessary.

6) Write down 3 or 4 back up activities that will be available to your child, if a planned activity is not working. Have all needed supplies and materials for these back up activities available.

7) Select specific ways to handle transitions in your home. Specifically, how will your child know it is time to change activities and how will they go about moving from one activity to another?

8) How will you ensure consistency with your child in other environments in your home or at restaurants, in a vehicle, etc.?

  • Weaving Intervention into the Fabric of Everyday Life: An approach to family assessment (Bernheimer & Keogh, 1995)
  • Contextual Fit for Behavioral Support Plans (Koegel, Koegel, & Dunlap, 1996)
  • Positive Behavior Support with Families (Lucyshyn, Dunlap, & Albin, 2002)
  • Parenting with Positive Behavior Support: A practical guide to resolving your child’s difficult behavior (Hieneman, Childs & Sergay, 2006)
  • Developing Cross-Culture Competence (Lynch & Hanson, 2004)
  • Center for Evidence Based Practice


  • Online academy PBS module


  • OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports


  • Kansas Institute on Positive Behavior Support


  • Don’t forget APBS in March 2009
amy mccart ph d university of kansas pbs research consultation llc amymc@ku edu
Amy McCart, Ph.D.

University of Kansas

PBS Research & Consultation, LLC.


Thank You For Your Time