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Positive thinking about managing behaviour that challenges

  • Date published:

  • Author: susieking

What is "behaviour that challenges"?

Behaviours that put the safety of the child/others at risk. This can have a significant impact on the child’s life and that of others.

Some problem behaviours examples, might be hitting out at others, destroying objects, headbanging, running away or eating inedible objects (PICA).

The 4 reasons that a child will behave in a certain way are:

Attention: To gain positive or negative attention

Tangible: To get something that they want i.e., iPad, sweets etc. This can become a problem when they learn to act in an inappropriate way.

Escape/avoid: To get removed from a situation they do not want to be in.

Sensory: To get sensation, stimulation or sound, e.g., rocking, twiddling or flapping, tapping their feet. These behaviours can appear meaningless or distressing to those around the child, but for the child they can be a coping strategy to manage their stress, anxiety or boredom.


Check for any Physical/Health Problems:

Children with communication difficulties may not be able to indicate when or where they are in pain. They may display a new behaviour which could be their way of telling us they are in pain, e.g., they may hit their head because they have a headache.

They may find going to the doctor/dentist very difficult, which may make certain health issues difficult to detect or go undetected, ask if you need support with this.


Considering your child’s sleep routine as tiredness can also affect their mood. Sleep management for children with a learning disability. 


Encouraging positive behaviour:

A calm approach to managing a child’s difficult to manage behaviour is required. It is important to ensure that people around the child (with behaviour that challenges) manage the child’s behaviour with a consistent approach.  i.e., have the same response to a behaviour.  Children need clear boundaries bout what is expected from them to ensure that they feel safe, secure and anxieties are kept to a minimum.  Children are quick to learn when people manage their behaviour in different ways. This can lead to them feeling confused, frustrated or gaining control of a situation they may not be able to understand the consequences of.  Their behaviour will escalate, and it will be extremely difficult to regain control of the situation. Children look to us to guide them, show them what is appropriate and not, help them understand what is expected of them and find ways to help them communicate their needs, and wants appropriately.


The following links and downloads will provide further advice and support for encouraging positive behaviours.