How to Write a Behavior Management Plan
All children require guidance in order to develop appropriate behaviors. Some children have negative behaviors that persist and create difficulties for them at home and school. These behaviors may be a result of not learning appropriate ways to interact with others. However, persistent inappropriate behaviors may also be a result of a learning disability, developmental disability, behavioral disorder or neurologically-based condition. Managing these difficult behaviors can be challenging for both parents and teachers. A behavior management plan, when developed and executed properly, can give a child the support needed to find success.
Identify problematic behaviors. Not all behaviors require a behavior management plan. Problematic behaviors are those that interfere with a child’s functioning or interfere with the ability of fellow classmates to learn. Additionally, behaviors that endanger the child or others are problematic. Before developing a behavior management plan, see if a simple change in the environment resolves the challenging behavior. Also check for unidentified learning disabilities. Choosing one or two behaviors at a time will be more effective than trying to change too many behaviors at once.
Analyze behavior. Behaviors generally have an antecedent—a trigger or situation that precedes the behavior—and a consequence. In order to develop an effective behavior plan, you must know what sets off the behavior and what the behavior accomplishes. In a formal school setting, the process of analyzing behavior for children with disabilities would include a formal “functional behavioral assessment.” This requires careful observation in a variety of settings to determine the antecedents and results of a particular behavior. It also requires input from all sources, including the family.
Select intervention strategies. An effective behavior management plan must have an intervention. Positive interventions to support appropriate behaviors are the most desirable. Effective plans consider ideas and input from multiple sources. In the school setting, this would involve a team of people—including the parents. Positive interventions may include skills training for the child, altered environments to reduce triggers and substitute behaviors to replace inappropriate behaviors.
Develop specific goals. A plan should have a destination or goal so that you know when the child has mastered a given skill and can move on to the next one. Write specific goals stating when, where and how often a child is expected to exhibit a modification in behavior. Be sure to make the goal attainable, with intermediate goals in-between.
Review the plan. Every behavior management plan should be reviewed periodically to ensure that it is still effective. A plan may need to be modified if a child has reached his behavioral goal, if the plan is not working, if the situation causing the behavior has changed or if new information has been discovered that may alter the approach. Not every plan will work the first time, and it may be a good idea to make the first review within just a few weeks of starting the plan.