Five Tips for Preventing Problem Behavior at School

 

  1. Make the environment meet with child’s needs. Positive Behavior Support does not mean changing the student; rather, it means creating an environment that will support the behavior you want the student to achieve.
  2.  Make your rules and expectations crystal clear. Teach students appropriate behavior by using “start” instead of “stop” directions when possible. This means tell the student what he should start doing, instead of focusing on the thing he should not be doing. (Say “raise your hand to get my attention” instead of “don’t call out.”) Remember to review the behavior expectations or any procedures that the student should follow, especially before problematic routines, activities or times of day (such as transitions, recess and group work). This will help you to “pre‐correct” the student’s behavior.
  3. “Catch them being good” and provide positive interactions. It’s important to remember to recognize successes, even small ones, frequently. Be sure to acknowledge when students follow the rules and meet your expectations by giving specific feedback. (“Nice job being ‘respectful’ when you remembered to raise your hand.”) Be sure to “catch” your students “being good” with a high enough frequency. The goal is to aim for a ratio of positive to negative interactions of at least 4 to 1— this means that for every 1 time you tell them when they broke a rule, you also try to tell them 4 things they did well.
  4. Routinely incorporate choices before problem behavior occurs. Giving students regular opportunities to make even small choices about tasks they are expected to do can give them a sense of control over some of the things that occur in their environment. Giving students choices in this manner also enables them to assume more responsibility for their learning. Try to proactively incorporate choices where appropriate, but make sure that all the options are ones you can live with. It is important to give choices prior to off‐task behaviors, not in response to them. Giving choices after inappropriate behaviors are exhibited might teach students that the way to get choices or more options is to use misbehavior.
  5. Correct minor problem behaviors calmly, quickly and consistently. Deliver quick corrections (and redirections) and try not to “lecture.” The goal is to get the student back into the learning activity as soon as possible. Be calm and “matter of fact” when addressing problem behavior. (It’s not always what you say, but how you say it!)  Be consistent. A good rule of thumb is to assume that it takes one month of consistent and appropriate intervention for every year that a behavior has been in place for us to see a change. If not implemented consistently, it will take even longer.

© NJCIE, 2012

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