Behaviour Management

What is behaviour?

Behaviour consists of an organism’s external reactions to its environment. Actions must be observable and measurable to be considered behaviour. Therefore, other mental processes such as emotions, thoughts and feelings are not considered as behaviour.

Problem behaviours

These are continuous/consistent behaviours that hinder social relations, communication, learning, and can cause harm to a child, family or peers.

Positive behaviours

These are actions that enhance learning and enable both learners and instructors to work more effectively. Some examples of positive behaviours are: responsiveness, sustained attention, sitting tolerance, cooperation, staying calm to participate in learning etc.

Behaviour management

This is the process of shaping and maintaining positive behaviour while discouraging negative behaviour commonly exhibited by children with learning differences that tend to negatively impact on their learning and social interactional skills. However, determining the functions of such behaviour helps in determining appropriate strategies in minimizing problem behaviours.

Functions of behaviours

It is important to check with your child’s paediatrician for underlying factors (eg: pain, medical conditions etc) that may trigger problem behaviours. Once a child has been certified medically sound by a physician, every observable behaviour and action by the child can be placed under these four major categories. These are: Attention, Access to tangibles, Escape/Avoidance and Sensory. Other functions of behaviours being researched are; inability to pass a message or being understood (communication) and authority otherwise referred to as control.


Having determined the functions of the behaviour and collected data on the triggers and settings of the behaviour (ABC), we can then devise means of minimizing problem behaviour and increasing positive behaviour.

Reinforcement occurs daily in our lives. It means getting something we like; something pleasurable to us. A reinforcer is anything that occurs after a behaviour and increases the likelihood of that behaviour occurring again.

However, it is also important to determine the schedules of reinforcement to effectively increase positive behaviours and to minimize problem behaviours. The type of schedules to use is determined by the behaviour observed and the child’s functioning.

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