An effective behavior intervention plan (often called a behavior support plan or positive intervention plan) is used to teach or reinforce positive behaviors. Typically, a child’s
team develops the plan. It usually includes:
• skills training to increase appropriate behavior
• changes that will be made in classrooms or other environments to reduce or eliminate problem
• strategies to replace problem behaviors with appropriate behaviors that serve the same function for the child
• supports for the child to use the appropriate behaviors
A positive behavior intervention plan is not a plan to determine what happens to a student who violates a rule or code of conduct. That would be more appropriately called a discipline plan or a punishment plan.
Examples of behavioral intervention strategies
Schools use the following common strategies to help reduce problem behaviors and teach children positive behavioral skills.
Stop, Relax, and Think teaches children how to think about the problem they are having and find a solution. Children learn the steps:
1. Define the problem.
2. Decide who “owns” the problem.
3. Think of as many solutions as possible to solve the problem.
4. Select a solution to try.
5. Use the solution.
6. Evaluate its success.
After children understand the steps, role-play and practice can help the process become habit. Helping children to recognize their own response to stress (clenched hands, voice tone, etc.) may become part of the instruction needed to use this strategy effectively.
Planned ignoring is useful in stopping behaviors that are annoying. For example, it is useful for students who yell or interrupt the class to attract the teacher’s attention or that of
students who are not prepared for class. Planned ignoring acknowledges that children’s problem behaviors serve a function. If the purpose of a problem behavior is to gain adult attention, then not providing attention means that the behavior does not work. The behavior lessens over time
and eventually disappears. Ignoring nonserious behavior behaviors, however, especially if the behaviors interrupt what the adult is doing. Also, attention-seeking behaviors
often get worse before they eventually go away.
Planned ignoring is not suitable for behaviors that are extremely disruptive. It also may not work if other children laugh at the problem behaviors the adult is trying to ignore.
Some behaviors, including those that are unsafe or that include peer issues such as arguing, can grow quickly into more serious behaviors. It may not be possible to ignore these kinds of behaviors. Planned ignoring should never be used for unsafe behaviors. As children grow older and want attention more from their friends than from adults, planned ignoring is less useful.
Preventive cueing (also called signal interference) lets a child know when he or she is doing something that is not acceptable. Teachers or parents can frown, shake their head,
make eye contact, point to a seat for a wandering child, or snap their fingers, to let the child know he or she needs to pay attention or to stop the problem behaviors. When
using preventive cueing it is important not to smile or look pleased with a child. Preventive cueing may be used in steps, depending on the behaviors and how often they occur or
how serious they are. For instance, a hand motion may work the first time or two, but it may need to be combined with eye contact or a shake of the head for the next offense.
Proximity control means that a teacher or adult moves closer to the child in a gentle way. If the teacher does not get the child’s attention by using cues, then he or she may move
closer to the student or give the lesson while standing near the child’s desk.
Touch control, meaning touch that is not resisted, is a nonverbal guided intervention. It is used to direct a student toward positive behavior. For example, a teacher may gently
place a hand on a child’s shoulder to steer the child back to his or her desk. Touch control should never be used with children who react angrily or when school policy does not permit its use. If a child’s records show that he or she has a history of violence, has been abused or maltreated, is anxious, or has a mental illness or psychosis, touch control should not be used, unless specifically agreed to by a physician or psychologist.
Positive phrasing lets children know the positive results for using appropriate behaviors. As simple as it sounds, this can be difficult. Teachers and parents are used to focusing on
misbehavior. Warning children about a negative response to problem behaviors often seems easier than describing the positive impact of positive behaviors. Compare the difference
between positive phrasing and negative phrasing: Positive phrasing: “If you finish your reading by recess, we can all go outside together and play a game.” Negative phrasing: “If you do not finish your reading by recess, you will have to stay inside until it’s done.” Positive phrasing helps children learn that positive behaviors lead to positive outcomes. This, in turn, can help them gain
control of their behaviors.
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