Positive Behaviour Support Strategies

Positive behaviour support strategies exist to help people that exhibit challenging behaviour. Individuals with developmental disorders, intellectual disabilities, or mental health issues may have trouble expressing their feelings or communicating their needs. Sometimes, these things come out as actions that are dangerous to themselves or disruptive to others. 

These troublesome habits can create a very distressing situation for individuals, their caregivers, teachers, or even their friends. Positive behaviour support strategies address these challenges by helping people replace problematic conduct with more constructive actions.

The Positive Behaviour Support Model

The Positive Behaviour Support model is an evidence-based framework that addresses challenging behaviour. Implementation of PBS plans usually consists of a three-tiered approach that includes proactive strategies, reactive strategies, and tertiary strategies. 

Proactive strategies focus on preventing challenging behaviour by addressing underlying issues while encouraging more productive replacement behaviours. Reactive strategies are used to manage challenging behaviour when it does occur – redirection and calming rituals are a few notable examples. Tertiary strategies are special interventions aimed at more severe or persistent challenging behaviour.

Positive Behaviour Support Examples

Several specific positive behaviour support strategies have been shown to be effective in promoting positive behaviour. Some of the general strategies employed in typical PBS interventions are listed below:

  • Develop a positive relationship between the professional and the individual  
  • Calming rituals for stressful situations
  • Keep triggers to a minimum or remove them altogether, if possible
  • Distraction techniques to redirect the person’s attention away from triggers
  • Developing reliable routines
  • Sessions for discussing behavioural problems
  • Having the individual participate in brainstorming about coping strategies 
  • Positive reinforcement to encourage replacement behaviours (i.e., praising specific actions)
  • Consistency and teamwork among caregivers

For individuals with developmental disabilities, examples of some commonly used positive behaviour support strategies include:

  • Creating a reward system for desirable behaviour
  • Detailing clear and consistent expectations
  • Providing sensory support

For individuals with mental health challenges, practitioners and caregivers can employ a slightly different set of positive behaviour support strategies:

  • Coping skills education
  • Providing emotional support
  • Encouraging physical activity for stress relief

The Right Positive Behaviour Support Framework

The Positive Behaviour Support framework involves a collaborative approach among caregivers, faculty, peers and individuals. The behaviour support team works together to identify the underlying causes of challenging behaviour, develop the behaviour support plan, and monitor the person’s progress. 

Implementing the plan is not a single-instance intervention; ongoing support will always be a cornerstone of positive behaviour support strategies. Data collection and analysis are also important components of the Positive Behaviour Support framework. Identifying patterns in behaviour and determining the plan’s effectiveness will inform any necessary adjustments and consequently lead to a better quality of life for the person receiving treatment. 

Ways to promote Positive Behaviour Support

There is a wide range of Positive Behaviour Support strategies that can help people overcome their challenging behaviour. Some have to do with preventing the target behaviour from occurring, while others are geared toward promoting replacement behaviour. 

The success of any Positive Behaviour Support intervention is the result of a team effort involving the individual, their family, educators, and possibly peers. By utilising the right positive behaviour support strategies, practitioners can help people that struggle with challenging behaviour enjoy a better quality of life and hopefully reach their full potential.

Frequently Asked Questions about Positive Behaviour Support Strategies

What is an example of a positive behaviour support strategy?

One example of a positive behaviour support strategy is positive reinforcement in the form of praise specific to particular actions. For example, when a child packs up their toys properly, you might say something like “Good job for neatly putting away your toys!” This communicates to the individual that they are doing the right thing, encouraging them to do the same in the future.

Are positive behaviour support strategies effective?

Research has shown that positive behaviour support strategies can be effectively used to manage challenging behaviour. They can improve the quality of life not only of individuals that exhibit problematic behaviour but also of the people around them. However, the success of these strategies depends on their individualised and consistent implementation over time.

Who can benefit from positive behaviour support strategies?

Positive behaviour support strategies can be helpful to individuals of all ages who exhibit challenging behaviours. This includes those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, and neurological conditions such as autism. However, even those without any diagnosed condition can benefit from positive behaviour support interventions if they need some help managing problematic behaviour.