When behaviour significantly interferes with a child’s learning, ability to follow the daily routine, or is dangerous to the child or others, you will want to gather information, observe, and record your observations. Once you have collected all the information concerning the behaviour a more formal plan may need to be developed.
Whether you are a parent, teacher or early childhood professional, working together with your child’s support team to create a plan can help your child make improvements in his behaviour or to find more appropriate alternatives. A Behaviour Support Plan is a written document that is created so that everyone involved with your child will have a CONSISTENT understanding of why the behaviour may be occurring and the actions that need to happen in order to quickly create improvements for your child.
The plan will include strategies for:
- teaching and increasing skills to replace the problem behaviours
- preventing the problems before they occur
- dealing with the problems if or when they do occur, and
- monitoring progress
Components of a Written Behaviour Support Plan:
The following is a list of components that should be included in your written plan. You may also refer to the Behaviour Support Plan Form by following the link below in the “For More Information” box.
- Description of the Behaviour of Concern:Where and when does the behaviour occur?
Describe the behaviour accurately, so that everyone observing the child can recognize the behaviour. For example, “Jimmy pinches and slaps nearby peers when adults pay attention to another child”. You will want to note if the behaviour occurs more during certain activities, times of day, or with certain people. For example, “Jimmy pinches more often when attention is paid to Sally. It also occurs more frequently in the afternoon, when Jimmy appears tired”.
- The Function of the Behaviour:Why does the behaviour occur? What is the child’s motivation for the behaviour?
This is where a functional behavioural assessment will indicate what needs the child is meeting with the behaviour. Use the information from your ABC Functional Assessment Cards, the Functional Assessment Interview by O’Neill or the Motivation Assessment Scale by Durand and Crimmins to complete this section.
For example, “Jimmy may be pinching other students to draw attention away from Sally and onto himself. Although the attention he receives from the adult may initially be negative, the attention-seeking behaviour of pinching paid off for Jimmy”.
- Previous Behaviour Management Strategies:What interventions have been tried? What has worked in the past?
Talk with other members of the support team to learn what behaviour management strategies work or do not work for the child. For example, does he respond well to praise or other rewards for appropriate behaviours. Are there certain consequences that have worked in the past, such as reinforcement programs or loss of privileges?
- Setting Behaviour Goals:What more appropriate behaviour(s) should the child learn to replace the current inappropriate behaviour(s)?
Describe the replacement behaviour(s) or skill(s) that are necessary for the child to learn in order to meet the same need that the inappropriate behavior was meeting. For example, “Jimmy may need to learn to wait his turn to interact with an adult, or go up to her and say her name, or tap her on the arm to request attention”.
- Prevention Strategies restructuring antecedents:Are short-term prevention procedures needed?
This section of your plan describes what should be changed, and how it fits in considering the assessment information. It may include things such as: removing distracting materials; providing quiet, separate seating/play areas; establishing or modifying expectations; using visual cues/signals, transition helpers; providing a visual schedule; offering choices; using gestures and physical cues; minimizing transition times; teaching specific rules; or changing daily schedules. You’ll want to be sure to include who is responsible for making each change.
- Teaching New Behaviours:What is the new, more appropriate behaviour that is going to be taught? How will this alternative appropriate behaviour help the child to get what they want?
Describe how and by whom the strategies will be provided and new behaviours rewarded. Provide details on what supports the child may need, such as cues or prompts (e.g., personal stories), the need for modeling the appropriate behaviour and how rewards will be given. For example, “Jimmy may need a personal story to explain how he should ask for attention. The appropriate new behaviour may need to be modeled and rewarded when Jimmy practices them. All adults supporting Jimmy will need to be aware that he will receive attention when he does the new behaviour”.
- Consequence Plan:If problem behaviour occurs again, what will the response be?
If the child displays the problem behaviour, and consequences are required, what are they and how will they be carried out? For example, if a behaviour is to be ignored, consider the most effective way to do this, such as not making eye contact with the child. It is important to ensure that the problem behaviour does not result in an “accidental payoff”, or the child getting what he wants.
Following a consequence, such as planned ignoring, the child should be shown the appropriate behaviour.
- Description of Success:What criteria will be used to evaluate progress? What data will be collected? How will it be recorded, and by whom?
Describe how the child’s progress in learning the new behaviour(s) and skill(s) will be evaluated. Describe how the frequency or intensity of the inappropriate behaviour(s) will be monitored to ensure that the strategies are working. Be specific. For example, “The child care staff will record on a sheet provided, each day for two weeks how many times Jimmy requests attention from staff in the appropriate ways outlined in the plan. Staff will also record daily the number of times Jimmy pinches Sally or another child.”
- Follow-up Activities:When will this plan be implemented? If follow-up is needed, when will it occur?
Describe what needs to happen to successfully implement the behaviour plan. Is training or further preparation required?
- Communication Regarding the Plan:How will this plan be communicated to all who need to know?
Determine who needs to be aware of the plan, so they can provide support, understand the learning goals, and/or help monitor the child’s progress. Set up a communication system with the support team through weekly meetings or a communication journal. A weekly staff meeting to discuss how the plan is going is also encouraged and allows the support team to make sure everyone is on track and being consistent.
- Monitoring the Child’s Progress:Who is responsible to ensure the above items are in place/completed? When will the support team review the plan?
Indicate who will check on the status of the plan and contact team members for scheduled or urgent reviews. The support team will need to meet regularly to evaluate progress and make adjustments to the plan, as necessary.
Although a formal Behaviour Support Plan may seem like a time consuming job, it can be an important step towards successfully resolving serious behaviour concerns. Patience and a supportive, committed team will ensure positive outcomes for everyone.