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Dealing with challenging behaviors

Dealing with challenging behaviors


“When we’re dealing with challenging
behaviors the question that I always ask is, “Why is the student
doing it?” We need to know the function of the behavior more than we need
to know what the behavior looks like. So if a student is biting, the question
isn’t what do I do about biting? The question is why is he biting?
I always want to know is he doing it, because he wants my attention? Is he
doing it because he wants me to go away? Is it doing it, because
the situation’s overwhelming, and he wants to be removed? There’s a lot of different reasons why
that behavior might be happening. But the reason is what’s going to tell us
what we should do about it. So if he’s doing it because he wants
people to react to him, how could he get that kind of reaction
in a more appropriate way? Could he tell jokes? Could we make
him the class spokesman? Could we do something that gives
him that opportunity to be the center of attention, and reinforce
that, and not make a big deal about the biting. Maybe attend to the student
who got bit instead of the biter. Similarly if he’s doing it because he
needs to be removed from a situation we might teach him to say, “I need a break,”
which means get me out of here. And then, give him that opportunity to
leave when he’s making that request instead of when he’s biting. And then
from there we can then build up into, “I can wait a little bit for the attention, or
I can do a little bit before I take a break?” But we’ve got to start where he’s
at to get that need back. Because that need isn’t gonna go away. We could just say, “Well he does it for attention.” So we’re going to ignore him, but
then we just have to fight through, waiting for him to learn that
as opposed to giving him away to get that need met in a more
appropriate way. I think it is very hard for the teacher, and
it’s very hard for families and teachers, because they’re both on
the front lines of having to deal with this, and nobody wants to
get hit, or kicked or bit. But I think the advantage of working
on looking at the function of the behavior means I’ve got
something I can get him to do instead, which often then short circuits the behavior.
Because now he can get what he wants and get what he needs without
us having to wait through I just have to stay in here until he stops spitting,
so that I’m not attending to him. I’ve got something that I can say,
“Tell me, tell me my name? Oh now I can talk to you, because you
called my name.” So we can build up strategies that
we can redirect them to, and it makes it easier it gives us a way
out of that situation.”

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