Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is an approach for changing a child’s behavior that is based on humanistic values and research. It offers an approach for developing an understanding of why the child has problem behavior and teaching the child new skills to replace problem behavior. Positive Behavior Support offers a holistic approach that considers all of the factors that impact on a child and the child’s behavior. It can be used to address problem behaviors that may range from aggression, tantrums, and property destruction, to withdrawing or repetitive behaviors.
Positive Behavior Support provides a process for identifying the problem behaviors of the child, developing an understanding of their purpose or function, and developing a behavior support plan that will result in reducing problem behavior and developing new skills. In your child’s program, the behavior support plan is implemented by all caregivers in the program, while also being implemented by the family in the home and community. The use of the support plan ensures that the child’s behavior will change quickly and the child’s caregivers will be better able to teach and interact with the child.
Positive Behavior Support is different from traditional behavior modification in three ways. First, it is focused on the use of positive intervention strategies that are respectful of the child. Second, the interventions that are developed are individualized and are based on an understanding of the child, the child’s communication abilities, and the unique situations of the child. Third, the intervention strategies that are developed are focused on helping the child gain access to new environments, have positive social interactions, develop friendships, and learn new communication skills.
Positive Behavior Support will provide you with a new understanding of your child’s behavior. During the process of Positive Behavior Support, you will learn why your child engages in problem behavior (e.g., tantrums, withdrawing, self-injury) and how those behaviors are maintained. Your child care provider will work with you to develop a Behavior Support Plan that will include strategies for preventing the occurrence of problem behavior while teaching your child new skills. The result of Positive Behavior Support should be that your child will have less problem behavior and new ways of interacting and communicating with others. Once you have learned this process of understanding and intervening with your child’s problem behavior, you will be able to apply it to new situations or circumstances.
Positive Behavior Support begins by identifying the behaviors that are a concern and observing the behaviors in the situations where they occur. Your child care provider will interview you using a Functional Assessment Interview to identify the situations where problem behavior occurs and the conditions that relate to the behavior. Your child care provider may also want to conduct observations and collect information by seeing the problem behaviors actually happen. In addition, you and your child care provider may decide to collect some information to see if certain factors affect the likelihood that your child will have “difficulties” (e.g., lack of sleep, allergies). This process of identifying the problem behaviors and developing an understanding of what factors surround problem behavior is called Functional Assessment. The goal of Functional Assessment is to gain an understanding of why your child engages in problem behavior. The Functional Assessment process ends with the development of a purpose statement or hypothesis statement about the problem behavior.
The hypothesis statement will describe the conditions or events that “trigger” the problem behavior, what the problem behavior means, and how problem behavior is maintained or reinforced. Your child care provider will work with you in developing these statements. Once the statements are identified, your child care provider will share ideas with you about the following: (a) how the behaviors can be prevented, (b) new skills that your child can be taught, and (c) how to react to the behaviors when they occur. A behavior support plan will be developed that provides a guide for preventing problem behavior, teaching new skills to replace the behavior, and responding to the behavior in new ways.
We welcome your feedback on this Training Module. Please go to the CSEFEL Web site (http://csefel.uiuc.edu) or call us at (217) 333-4123 to offer suggestions.