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8 Major Principles of Positive Behavior Support

principles of positive behavior support

While in graduate school for education and school psychology, I learned about the principles of positive behavior support, a research-based practice.

At the time, I was working in a group home with individuals with a variety of emotional and behavioral needs. 

I knew this would be the perfect setting to implement my newly learned strategies. I immediately saw the positive impact on my clients, and knew that I would use these strategies to interact with children for the rest of my life, in both professional and personal settings.

As a tutor, mobile therapist, school psychologist, behavior specialist, and mother I have continued to use these strategies with extreme success for the past 19 years.

Many people think that positive behavior support is just a reward system, like a sticker chart, and when that doesn’t work, they think the process doesn’t work.

Positive behavior support is so much more.

It is a form of communication and it is a science.

When you learn to use it in its truest form, you see how effective it truly is.

8 major components of positive behavior support:

1 – Telling your child what to do instead of what not to do.

major components of positive behavior support

2 – Using empathetic statements to show your child that you understand how they feel.

Telling your child what to do instead of what not to do

3- Giving specific positive feedback.

Show that you are proud when you see your child engaging in positive/appropriate behaviors and following expectations.

Using empathetic statements to show your child

4- Setting expectations for your child ahead of time and letting them know what they can earn from meeting those expectations.

Allowing your child to work for the things that they want (e.g., screen time, toys, gadgets, games, etc.) is a major component of positive behavior support.

In some cases logical consequences are necessary such as removing a child from a situation in which they are hurting someone or having your child work to earn money to fix something they broke – but in general try to set up an earning style format to keep your child accountable for their daily and weekly expectations.

Make sure the expectations are appropriate for your child’s age and ability level.

Related Article: How to Use Natural and Logical Consequence to Improve Children’s Behavior

5 – Preparing your child for changes when possible.

Give your child a “heads up” so they know what is coming and know what to expect, rather than making quick/abrupt unexpected changes.

6 – Giving your child choices.

This can include choices about what to eat, what to wear, what to do first or second, etc. (may not be able to give choices every time, so just do your best).

give your child a "heads up"

For young children or children with learning difficulties providing two to four choices is an appropriate starting point.

7 – Gradually guiding your child toward their peak level of independence.

When expecting your child to perform a task such as cleaning up their room or putting away laundry, work with them and guide them through the process until they become independent at it.

They may need specific instructions about where to put things and may need larger tasks broken down into smaller, manageable steps.

8 – Talking to your child about emotional regulation when they are in a pleasant mood.

It is imperative to discuss appropriate ways to handle emotions during a calm/happy period, rather than when your child is angry and emotional.

The logical and reasoning centers of our brain are not working as productively during angry/emotional states.

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These are just some of the principles of positive behavior support, but there are many more.

For additional tips see:
Top 10 Discipline Tips for Kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (Helpful Tips for All Kids)
How to Prevent Temper Tantrums (Home and School)
17 Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen to You and Show You Respect
How to Motivate Your Students and Get Them to Listen to You (39 Effective Strategies for Classroom Management

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