Monthly Series – May – Understanding and Managing Challenging Behavior


By Dr. Will Henson

It’s hard to write a blog post on something that fills volumes of literature. In my 15 years as a consultant to educational institutions, I’ve come to accept that sometimes all I have is a really short time to give people information they need – not to be experts – but to be more effective NOW.

In this next series of blog posts, I’m going to cover some of the most important behavior principles. In this post I’m covering my number one foundational starting point, which is the way educators understand the nature of challenging behavior.

HOW DO I UNDERSTAND BEHAVIOR? – The lens you apply to challenging behavior is probably the single most important element in determining how effective you are going to be in intervening. Viewing a child’s behavior as manipulative, controlling or a power struggle is a set up for you to engage in a battle you probably won’t win. Seeing a child’s behavior as a lack of motivation or caring, or a fault of the student’s home life, sets you up to have no power to do anything!

At 321insight we talk about Function (the outcome the child wants from the behavior) Skill (the social, emotional and cognitive skills the student has to get what they want) and Environment (the demands that are placed on the student by the physical and relational environment in the classroom/school). Those are all things you can impact. You can help students find new and better ways to get their needs met, teach new social and emotional skills, and modify the environment in ways that help students be more successful.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing ideas for YOUR role in understanding and managing behavior, prompting and confronting, and using consequences effectively. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas as well!

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