Challenging Behaviour in Children

Challenging behaviour in children refers to a range of persistent, disruptive, or harmful actions that impact a child’s social, emotional, or academic development. These behaviours often require careful assessment and appropriate intervention. It’s important to note that challenging behaviour is a form of communication and could result from an unmet need.

Several factors can lead to children displaying behaviours of distress, including:

It’s important to note that challenging behaviour is not synonymous with a learning disability. However, children with learning disabilities are more likely to exhibit challenging behaviour due to difficulties in communication and expressing frustration.
Supporting children to overcome challenging behaviour is crucial for their emotional development and managing their emotions effectively. Guiding and encouraging positive behaviours play a significant role in teaching children alternative, positive ways to behave. While overcoming these behaviours can be challenging, proactive strategies can be employed to reduce or prevent behaviours of distress before they occur.

Logo Faded 2

The Benefits of Proactive Approaches

Using proactive strategies and approaches can help prevent and decrease challenging behaviour. These approaches have various benefits, including clarifying expectations, promoting positive behaviours, preventing challenging behaviours, and fostering positive relationships.
Implementing proactive strategies leads to long-term improvements in the quality of life of children with challenging behaviours. It requires dedication, compassion, and patience from support teams when addressing the individual’s needs, behaviour and impact.
Since every child learns differently, it is essential to identify the most suitable approach. Consistency is also vital in achieving the desired behaviours, as it helps children better understand what is expected of them.

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS)

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a personalised approach utilised by healthcare professionals, parents, and caregivers to teach and encourage children to adopt new behaviours. This approach effectively reduces the occurrence of challenging behaviour by identifying and removing triggers associated with such behaviour. It also facilitates the learning of alternative healthy behaviours to replace challenging behaviours.

The foundation of PBS lies in gaining a comprehensive understanding of each individual, including their strengths, needs, and desires. It offers a tailored support system that aims to improve the quality of life of individuals, promote happiness, and achieve personal satisfaction and success. This inclusive approach relies on the active participation of the individuals and key people in their lives, such as family members and healthcare professionals and social care workers.

To implement PBS effectively, it is crucial to involve trained professionals specialising in Positive Behaviour Support. These experts can develop PBS therapies and guide caregivers in implementing them, ensuring the best possible outcomes for the individuals they support.

Focusing on Prevention Rather than Reaction

Understanding the difference between reactive and proactive behaviour is crucial. Reactive behaviour typically involves an immediate response to emotions from uncontrollable situations or past events. On the other hand, proactive behaviour focuses on anticipating future conditions, circumstances, or crises, allowing individuals to design plans that avoid negative outcomes or prepare for positive results.

Implementing prevention strategies can be a powerful tool to prevent challenging behaviours. Primary prevention supports individuals in obtaining their needs, decreasing challenging behaviours and minimising or eliminating the use of restrictive practices. Secondary prevention focuses on supporting individuals when they feel distressed or agitated, employing techniques such as relaxation, redirection, distraction, and problem-solving to prevent behaviours from escalating.

Examples of Proactive Approaches
Logo Faded 2

Maintaining a sense of calm is essential for caregivers to prevent further escalations of challenging behaviours. While reactive strategies are not considered part of treatment, they may be necessary when primary and secondary prevention strategies have not successfully prevented challenging behaviours. In such cases, implementing a reactive strategy should be agreed upon by a multi-disciplinary team, follow a compassionate approach, and, whenever possible, be documented within the individual’s behaviour support plan.

Logo Faded 2

Examples of Proactive Approaches

Proactive approaches cover a range of strategies that can effectively support a child’s behaviour. Visual support can help children understand expectations, while providing clear and simple instructions can contribute to positive outcomes. Offering choices empowers children, promotes independence, and reduces conflicts. Descriptive praise encourages positive behaviours, and implementing reward systems helps reinforce desired behaviours. Consistency in routines and language training can significantly impact behaviour, particularly for children with language difficulties. These proactive strategies provide valuable tools to foster positive outcomes.

Behaviour Support Plans

Behaviour support plans are collaborative efforts involving the individual requiring support, their family members, support workers, and healthcare professionals. These plans serve as a step-by-step guide for managing challenging behaviour, focusing on understanding the purpose behind each behaviour and meeting the individual’s needs through compassion.
The process of developing a behaviour support plan involves several key steps. These include:

The plan’s success lies in its implementation, regular updates, and ongoing review to accommodate the individual’s evolving needs. Progress is measured by collecting accurate data on behaviour patterns, tracking goal achievement, and assessing the individual’s overall quality of life.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an effective strategy that involves providing something desirable immediately after a desired behaviour, thereby increasing the likelihood of that behaviour occurring again. Acknowledging and praising the positive actions of children is crucial. Tangible rewards or activities can also serve as reinforcement. It is important to reward good behaviours frequently and focus on the positive aspects of a child’s behaviour. Being a role model, setting clear rules, involving a child in the rule-making process, and delivering immediate consequences for negative behaviours are all essential components of utilising positive reinforcement effectively. Whether using time-outs or taking away privileges, ensuring that consequences are age-appropriate, compassionate, and consistently implemented contributes to the effectiveness of positive reinforcement.

Environmental Modifications

Environmental modifications can be beneficial in creating a supportive and structured learning environment. Visual schedules and choice boards can display activities and rewards, helping children understand and navigate their daily classroom routines. Some children also benefit from sensory rooms, which are a safe space for a child to calm down and avoid behaviours of distress. By implementing environmental modifications, educators can create an atmosphere that supports students’ individual needs and maximises their learning potential.

Effective Communication Strategies

Effective communication strategies are vital in supporting children to express their needs appropriately. Tools such as photographs, symbols, scales, charts, or apps can improve their communication skills. Some children may encounter challenges conveying their thoughts, comprehending instructions, or interpreting non-verbal cues like facial expressions and body language. Even children with fluent speech may have a challenge to express themselves when experiencing anxiety or distress. These communication difficulties often lead to frustration and can manifest as challenging behaviours. In such situations, responding calmly to challenging behaviour and offering different methods of communication are important for positive outcomes.  

Social Skills Training

Social skills training (SST) is a valuable form of behavioural therapy designed to enhance social skills in individuals facing mental health challenges or developmental disabilities. Educators, therapists, and other professionals frequently utilise this evidence-based approach to support individuals with challenges like anxiety disorders, mood disorders and personality disorders. SST can be administered individually or in group settings as an integral part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Individuals, including children, engaging in SST are provided with practical tools and techniques to improve their social interactions and relationships. The training focuses on developing essential skills such as effective communication, active listening, conflict resolution, empathy, and assertiveness. Individuals gain confidence and competence in navigating social situations through targeted exercises, role-playing scenarios, and real-life practice. SST offers a supportive and structured environment for learning and growth, enabling individuals to build meaningful connections, enhance self-esteem, and improve overall well-being.

Self-Care and Stress Management

Self-care and stress management includes a range of techniques, strategies, and programs designed to reduce stress, prevent its harmful effects, and enhance overall well-being. While these approaches benefit individuals with mental health challenges, they are also valuable for anyone experiencing high-stress levels, undergoing life changes, and maintaining mental health.

Stress management therapy can effectively lower stress levels, address its impact, uplift mood, and improve quality of life. There are various types of stress management therapies available. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) are examples of talk therapy methods specifically targeting stress. Additionally, preventive stress management equips individuals with the skills to recognise, prepare for, and respond to stressors through coping strategies.

Logo Faded 2

The Key to Successful Implementation of Proactive Approaches

While proactive strategies and techniques are important, the compassionate and empathetic connection between caregivers and individuals receiving support truly makes a difference. Humanised care involves understanding and responding to each individual’s unique needs, emotions, and experiences. It requires recognising their strengths, limitations, and aspirations and tailoring proactive approaches accordingly.

When caregivers approach individuals with empathy and genuine care, trust and safety are established. This connection allows for effective communication, collaboration, education and shared decision-making. Humanised care also means being attuned to non-verbal cues, recognising signs of distress or discomfort, and adapting strategies accordingly. It involves actively listening, validating emotions, and providing support with kindness and respect.

At Leaf Complex Care, we implement proactive approaches to create an environment that nurtures well-being, promotes self-esteem, and fosters positive behaviour change. We ensure that individuals feel seen, heard, and valued, enhancing their overall experience and outcomes. It is through humanised care that proactive approaches truly come to life and make a lasting impact on the lives of people receiving care.

The Key to Successful Implementation of Proactive Approaches
Logo Faded 2

Implementation of Proactive Approaches with Leaf Complex Care

At Leaf Complex Care, we are committed to implementing proactive approaches in our care services. We understand that each individual has unique needs, and our approach is centred around providing humanised care that prioritises well-being and fosters positive outcomes.

Our highly trained and compassionate support workers collaborate closely with the individuals they serve, their families, and healthcare professionals to develop personalised behaviour support plans that address each person’s specific challenges and promote independence.

We recognise and communicate the importance of building meaningful relationships based on trust, respect, and empathy. Our support workers take the time to understand the strengths, preferences, and aspirations of the people we support, tailoring proactive strategies to their specific needs.

Leaf Complex Care has offices in multiple locations, including Bristol, Slough, Somerset and the Midlands.

If you are seeking humanised care that focuses on proactive approaches and personalised support, contact us today.