Unit IV: Behaviour Management - Challenging Behaviours

1. Understanding behaviours

2. Functional Analysis of Behaviours

3. Behaviour assessment tools

4. Behaviour Modification Strategies in – altering antecedents, altering consequences

5. Controlling antecedents





1. Understanding behaviours

Behavior:  Any observable and measurable activities is known as behavior.

Define behaviors

The first step in a good behavior management plan is to identify target behaviors. These behaviors should be specific (so everyone is clear on what is expected), observable, and measurable (so everyone can agree whether or not the behavior happened).

An example of poorly defined behavior is “acting up,” or “being good.” A well-defined behavior would be running around the room (bad) or starting homework on time (good).

Types Of Behavior

·      Skill behavior :- Means which is socially accepted and it is an age appropriate.

·      Problem behavior :- Means which is not socially accepted and it is not age appropriate.

Adaptive Behavior (Skill Behavior)

·      The adaptive behavior in general refers to the way in which an individual function in his/her social environment.

·      The AAMR (1977) defines adaptive behavior as the effectiveness or degree with which an individual meets the standard of personal independence and social responsibilities expected of his/her environment.

Types Of Skill Behavior

·      Motor

·      Activities of daily living

·      Language

·      Reading and writing

·      Number and time

·      Domestic and social

·      Pre- vocational and money

Problem  Behavior

·      Problem behavior is defined as those behaviors are not age inappropriate, socially not accepted, injurious to self and others and which is interfering teaching learning process.

Types Of Problem Behavior/Mal-Adaptive Behavior

·      Violent And Distructive Behavior Example : tear books

·      Temper Tantrums. Example : screams rolls on the floor .

·      Misbehavior With Others .Example: Pulls object from others

·      Self Injurious Behavior. Example : Head banging

·      Repetitive Behaviors: Example: Rocks body, flapping hands.

·      Odd Behavior. Example: Laughs  or talk to self without reasons.

·      Hyperactive Behaviors  Example: Does not sit at one place for required time .

·      Rebellious Behavior . Example: Refuses to obey command .

·      Anti-Social Behaviors. Example: Steals ,cheats in games .

·      Fears. Example: Fears of place ,person ,animals and object.


2. Functional Analysis of Behaviours

Functional Analysis of Behavior


·      To identify the variables of which behavior is a function; to discover "cause-effect ”

relations (Skinner, 1953)


·      Understanding

·      Treatment

·      Prevention

Functional behavioural assessment (FBA) is a precise description of a behaviour, its context, and its consequences, with the intent of better understanding the behaviour and those factors influencing it.

The purpose of the FBA of behaviour is to determine which contingencies maintain an individual‟s problem behaviour.

Approaches to assessment

1) Indirect Assessment

2) Direct Descriptive Assessment

3) Functional (Experimental) Analysis

These approaches differ in terms of the type of data collected and the extent to which environmental events are merely observed or actually manipulated during the course of assessment.

Indirect (Anecdotal) Methods

General Characteristics

·      Focus on circumstances under which behavior occurs

·      Based on informant recall

·      Data: verbal report (interview, checklist, rating scale)


·      No risk to individual  Simplicity (requires little skill)

·      Efficiency (takes 10-30 min to complete)

·      Structured method for gathering information

·      Potentially useful as initial guide to assessment


·      Highly subjective data – guesses

·      Poor reliability and questionable validity

·      Insufficient for treatment development

Suggestions for Implementation

·      Use as preliminary guide only

·      Use multiple, relevant informants

·      Follow-up with functional analysis

Descriptive (Naturalistic) Analysis


·      To identify naturally occurring, observable antecedents and consequences of behavior

 Typical procedure

·      Define target behavior(s) to be observed

·      Specify criteria for antecedent and consequent events

·      Occurrence of B Record A, B, and C

·      Organize A and C clusters

·      Generate hypothesis based on A-C correlations with B


·      Objective and (usually) quantitative data

·      Behavior sampled in relevant settings

·      Identifies correlations: “ When I see X, I also see Y ”


·      Requires lengthy observation under varied conditions (event sampling problem)

·      Typical environment is “ noisy, ” containing many antecedent and consequent events (which events are relevant?)

·      Interpretation must be based on conditional probabilities

·      Naturally occurring consequences may not be reinforcers

·      Effects of intermittent schedules cannot be identified

·      Irrelevant variables may mask relevant ones

·      Outcomes appear to be biased

·      Correlational relations ≠ functional relations

·      Sneeze ” bless you”

Functional (Experimental) Analysis

When descriptive analysis yields ambiguous results, a functional analysis may be conducted to allow systematic introduction and removal of environmental events during predefined test and control conditions.

What are the goals of functional analysis?

a)     Define the problem behavior

One of the first and most important steps when planning to assess and treat someone‟s problem behaviour is to objectively and specifically define that behaviour. A well-defined behaviour is important so the behaviour can be reliably or consistently observed and treatment can be administered as intended.

b)     Identify possible causes of behaviour

General categories of causes include: (i) positive reinforcement or events, objects or sensory stimuli that, when they immediately follow a behaviour, result in an increase in rate of the behaviour (automatic reinforcement is included which refers to the occasions when the behaviour can be maintained by consequences delivered via the behaviour itself) and (ii) negative reinforcement or stimuli or  events (e.g., demands, tasks, internal stimulation, attention)  that, when removed immediately after a behaviour, increase its rate. The function matrix is a useful tool for identifying the possible causes or the ways that a behaviour was reinforced.

c)      Predict when the problem behaviour will occur

Information gathered from functional analysis may allow prediction of the circumstances under which the problem behaviour is likely to happen and alter them in some way to decrease the likelihood of the problem behaviour.

d)     Design effective treatment programmes

Consideration of the possible causal variables for the problem behaviour is important for the selection of effective treatment.  Treatment will vary depending on the functional hypothesis or reason for the problem behaviour.

If one could specify which aspects of a procedure led to more problem behaviour, one should then be able to change the procedure so as to effect a reduction in problem behaviour.

General Characteristics

·      Direct and quantitative observation of behavior

·      Conditions of observation are controlled

·      Comparison between test and control conditions

·      Data: frequency, duration, etc.


·      Provides clear demonstration of cause-effect relations

·      High degree of precision (isolates intermittent or subtle variables)

·      Suggests short-term strategies for behavior management

·      Provides clear basis for treatment development

Challenges to Functional Analysis Methodology

·      Complexity of assessment: It’s too difficult

·      Time constraints: It takes too much time 

·      Setting constraints: I don’t have a controlled setting

·      High-risk behavior:  It’s too dangerous

Functional analysis in action

Typical conditions in which levels of the problem behavior can be measured and compared include:

(a) attention condition wherein reprimands (e.g., “No, don‟t do that”) are delivered after each problem behaviour;

(b) tangible condition wherein a preferred object (e.g., toy, food) that is out-of-reach is given to the child following each problem behaviour;

(c) demand condition wherein a task is presented and following instances of the problem behaviour it is removed for a brief period;

(d) play condition wherein toys are provided, the therapist interacts positively with the child and any instances of the problem behaviour are ignored; and

 (e) alone condition wherein the child is placed in a therapy room alone with no toys available. The alone and play conditions are typically used as a control or comparison conditions with the other conditions (i.e., demand, tangible, attention). These conditions can be conducted in a laboratory situation (analogue) or in the situation where the child‟s problem behaviour naturally occurs (e.g., classroom, home).


3. Behaviour assessment tools

Behavior assessments are different from tests that screen for learning differences. They don’t have right or wrong answers. Instead, they look at how kids interact with their world. These assessments can identify behavior patterns as well as reasons for the behavior. Often parents, teachers and others are asked to observe the kids and answer questions about them.

Here are some of the behavior assessments that are commonly used.

Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales

What it measures: How a child’s daily living skills compare to those of other kids his age.

How it works: Someone who knows the child well fills out a questionnaire or answers questions about your child. This is usually a parent or teacher. Questions focus on the child’s abilities in basic areas. These include communication, daily living, socialization, and motor skills.

What results mean: This test looks at a child’s ability to function on a daily basis. It’s helpful for diagnosing and classifying certain types of disorders. These include autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and developmental delays. It also helps determine how far a child is lagging behind his peers, and if there’s reason for concern.

Conners Parent and Teacher Rating Scales

What it measures: The presence and severity of behaviors related to ADHD.

How it works: Parents and teachers fill out a brief multiple-choice questionnaire on how a child behaves. Older kids may also be given a questionnaire to fill out. Areas explored include inattention hyperactivity , learning problems, and social skills .

What results mean: This screening test points out where further testing may be needed. It can help doctors diagnose ADHD. It can also help them monitor how well medication or other therapies are working for kids who are already diagnosed.

Vanderbilt Assessment Scales

What it measures: The existence and severity of ADHD symptoms. Also, other common behavioral concerns and how they might be affecting behavior and schoolwork.

How it works: This test may be given after a more general assessment suggests that a child shows signs of ADHD . Parents and teachers are asked how often they see those symptoms and other concerning behaviors. The choices are “never,” “occasionally,” “often” and “very often.”

What the scores mean: Some of the questions are related to focus issues and hyperactivity. If there are numerous answers of “often” and “very often,” it could point to ADHD.

Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC)

What it measures: Various aspects of a child’s behavior.

How it works: A parent or teacher is given a broad range of questions about a child’s behavior. That includes questions about his social skills, ways of thinking and ability to adapt.

What the scores mean: This far-reaching test is used to evaluate kids for a broad range of behavior issues. Results help identify areas of specific concern. They also help narrow down the possibilities of what the problem might be.

Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist

What it measures: Emotional, behavioral, and social development and abilities.

How it works: Parents and teachers get a list of about 100 statements that describe child behaviors. They then rate how “true” or “untrue” each statement is for the child being evaluated. There’s a Child Behavior Checklist for preschoolers, as well as for older children.

What the scores mean: Test results can point to a number of behavioral and emotional issues. These include ADHD depression , phobias, and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

Barkley Home and School Situations Questionnaires

What they measure: A child’s behavior at home and at school.

How they work: Parents are asked to rate how a child behaves in 16 common home situations. Teachers are asked to do the same for 12 common school situations.

What the scores mean: To be officially diagnosed with ADHD, kids’ symptoms must cause difficulties in two different areas of life. These two tests together can show that.


4. Behaviour Modification Strategies in – altering antecedents, altering consequences

Behavior modification means changing human behavior by the application of Conditioning or other Learning techniques. (J.B Watson).           


1. Identification of problem behaviours

2. Statement of problem behaviours

3. Selection of problem behaviours

4. Identification of rewards

5. Recording baseline of the problem behaviours

6. Functional analysis of the problem behaviours

7. Development and implementation of behaviour management programmes

8. Evaluation of behaviour management programmes


       Identification of problem behavior



       Direct testing

We use BASIC- MR for Assessing the problem behaviour


*      After identifying the various problem behaviours in a child, and after stating them in observable and measurable terms, you need to then select a specific problem behaviour which you want to change first. This step is called as prioritizing specific problem behaviours.


*      1.Choose only one or two

*      2. Easy to manage,

*      3. injurious to the child himself, or to others in his environment.

*      4. interfere most with the child's, or others classroom learning/teaching activities.

*      5. Choose specific problem behaviours for intervention only after due consideration about their relative frequency, duration or severity,

*      6. child to involve more in classroom/school learning activities.

*      7. consultation with the parents


*      Definition :“The event that happens after a behaviour which makes that behaviour to occur again in future is called 'reward".

Types of Rewards

*      Primary Rewards

*      Secondary / material Rewards

*      Social Rewards

*      Activity Rewards

*      Token Rewards

*      Privileges


*      I. Observe the child's behaviour

*      2. Ask the child directly

*      3.Ask parents, caretakers or others who know the child

*      4. Use a Reward Preference Checklist

*      5. Elicit the child's reward history

*      6. Choose rewards which are easily available and dispensable

*      7. Use reward sampling techniques

*      8. Choose an appropriate reward

*      9. Choose a strong reward

*      10. Change of rewards


*      Reward only desirable behaviours

*      Reward clearly

*      Reward  Immediately

*      Reward the desirable target behaviour each and every time after it occurs

*      Reward in appropriate amounts

*      Combine the use of social rewards along with other types of rewards

*      Change the rewards

*      Fading of rewards


a]Event or frequency recording:

b] Duration recording

c] Interval recording

d] Time sampling


One of the most simple model known as A-B-C model is presented below

*      A. What happens immediately BEFORE the behaviour? This is called as ANTECEDENT factors.

*      B. What happens DURING the behaviour?

            This is called as BEHAVIOUR.

*      C. What happens immediately AFTER the behaviour?

            This is called as CONSEQUENCE factors.

Understanding 'Before' (antecedent) factors

*      1. When does the problem behaviour generally occur?

*      2. Are there particular times of the day when the problem behaviour tends to occur more

*      3. With whom does the problem behaviour occur?

*      4. Where does the problem behaviour occur?

*      5. Why did the problem behaviour occur?

Understanding 'During' (behaviour) factors

*      1. How many times does the problem behaviour occur?

*      2. For how long does the problem behaviour occur?

Understanding 'After' (consequence) factors.

*      1. What do people present in the environment exactly do to stop the specific problem behaviour?

*      2. What effect does the problem behaviour have on the given child or others?

*      3. How is the child benefitting by indulging in the problem behaviour?

(functions of problem behavior refer previous notes)

Behavioural Techniques In Managing Problem Behaviours

*      1. Changing the Antecedents:  There are a number of antecedent (before) factors, in the presence of which, behaviour problems may tend to occur more.

These factors may include particular settings, situations, places, persons, times, specific demands placed on the child, task difficulty levels, methods of instructions used by the teacher, sudden change in routine, etc.

If the teacher can identify links between any of these factors and the occurrence of specific problem behaviours, then a simple avoidance, alteration or change of such factors may he sufficient to manage  problem behaviours

*      2. Extinction/Ignoring: Extinction means removal of attention rewards permanently following a problem behaviour. Extinction is the nonreinforcement of a previously reinforced behavior. This procedure involves ignoring a behavior that is withholding reinforcing attention for a previously reinforced response. In all cases, when an inappropriate behavior is ignored, another behavior, which is appropriate, must be reinforced.

*      3. Time Out: Time out method includes removing the child from the reward or the reward from the child for a particular period of time following a problem behaviour Ensure that rewards or a rewarding situation is removed following the problem behaviour.

Types of Time Out

*      Remove the child to an area in the class

*      Remove the rewarding activity materials

*      Place the child outside

*      Head down position

*      Seclude the child to an isolated room

*      4. Physical Restraint: Physical restraint involves restricting the physical movements of the child for sometime following a problem behaviour.

*      5. Response Cost: Another way of decreasing problem behaviours in children is to take away the rewards that the child has earned by performing specific good behaviours.

 In other words, this technique involves the child to pay a fine or the cost for indulging in a problem behaviour by giving away some thing or event he has earned from showing desirable behaviours.

Response cost is a procedure in which a specific amount of available reinforcers is contingently withdrawn following a response in an attempt to decrease behavior. Response cost is often used with token economy programs. The response cost must be less than the total amount of number of reinforcers available (i.e., never go in the hole). Response cost procedures are often referred to as “fines.”

*      6. Overcorrection( RESTITUTION): The use of this technique will not only decrease problem behaviours in children, but also teach appropriate ways of behaving. When this technique is implemented, after the occurrence of a problem behaviour, the child is required to restore the disturbed situation to a state that is much better than what it was before the occurrence of the problem behaviour.

*      1. Restitutional overcorrection requires the student to correct the effects of his/her misbehavior by restoring the environment to better than its original condition.

*      2. Positive overcorrection requires the student to practice an appropriate behavior an abundant number of times.

*      3. Neutral practice overcorrection has a student repeat an action that is neither restitutional nor related to the desired behavior. This often takes the form of contingent exercise.

*      4. Full cleanliness training requires the student to excessively clean the result of wetting or soiling her/ himself

*      7. Conveying Displeasure: we use of THIS technique, the teacher is required to give clear verbal commands  expressing displeasure to a child following  occurrence of a specific problem behaviour.

*      8. Gradual Exposure for Fears: Graduated exposure techniques are especially used to decrease fears in children, either in the school or home setting.

*      The procedure of graduated exposure involves a step by step gradual exposing of the child to a feared person, place, object or a situation

*      9. Differential Rewards:

1.     Differential reward of opposite behaviour

2.     Differential reward of other behaviour

3.     Differential reward of low rate Behaviour

4.     Differential reward of alternate behaviors

*      10. Self-management Techniques:

*      1. Self observation

*      2. Self recording techniques

*      3. Self cueing techniques

*      4. Self reward techniques

*      5. Correspondence training

*      6. Anger control technique

ABC’s of behavior management

To understand and respond effectively to problematic behavior, you have to think about what came before it, as well as what comes after it. There are three important aspects to any given behavior:

Define behaviors

The first step in a good behavior management plan is to identify target behaviors. These behaviors should be specific (so everyone is clear on what is expected), observable, and measurable (so everyone can agree whether or not the behavior happened).

An example of poorly defined behavior is “acting up,” or “being good.” A well-defined behavior would be running around the room (bad) or starting homework on time (good).

Antecedents, the good and the bad

Antecedents come in many forms. Some prop up bad behavior, others are helpful tools that help parents manage potentially problematic behaviors before they begin and bolster good behavior.

Antecedents to AVOID:

Antecedents to EMBRACE:

Here are some antecedents that can bolster good behavior:

Creating effective consequences

Not all consequences are created equal. Some are an excellent way to create structure and help kids understand the difference between acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors while others have the potential to do more harm than good. As a parent having a strong understanding of how to intelligently and consistently use consequences can make all the difference.

Consequences to AVOID

EFFECTIVE consequences:

Consequences that are more effective begin with generous attention to the behaviors you want to encourage.

By bringing practicing behavioral tools management at home, parents can make it a much more peaceful place to be.

5. Controlling antecedents

Antecedent control procedures are environmental changes implemented prior to the behavior in order to control the frequency of that behavior—usually the reduction of challenging behavior, often with clients requiring pervasive support.

In behavior analysis, ABC data is typically the preferred method used when observing a behavior. This involves directly observing and recording situational factors surrounding a problem behavior using an assessment tool called ABC data collection. An ABC data form is an assessment tool used to gather information on a certain problem behavior or behaviors being exhibited by a child. ABC refers to:

The purpose of this blog will be to explain exactly what an antecedent is and how it’s importance in modifying problem behaviors:

Three ways to manipulate antecedents to increase a desirable behavior are:

1) Present the cues for the desired behavior in the child’s environment.

2) Arrange the environment or set up a biological condition so that engaging in the desirable behavior is more valuable to the child.

3) Decrease the physical effort needed for the child to engage in the desired behavior.