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Behaviour Management Plans for Children

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 27 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Behaviour Modification behaviour

Managing children’s behaviour can seem a Herculean task when they begin to realise how much fun getting into trouble can be. However, parents will often yell themselves hoarse or tear their hair right out of their head, without it making one bit of difference. Rather than simply punishing children, which is often as hard on a parent as it is on a child and more often retributive rather than informative, consider making a behaviour management plan.

Define the Problem Behaviours
Before a behaviour management plan can be put into practice, problem behaviours must be identified. Problem behaviours are those that parents would like to see changed because they are inappropriate for the child’s age or stage of development. Problem behaviours can be small annoyances (thumb sucking), embarrassing (public temper tantrums) or even dangerous (hitting, kicking or biting others). Some children will also display a variety of behaviours at the same time, such as yelling, breaking things and kicking others during a temper tantrum. A good behaviour management plan will take into account all of the problem behaviours.

Observe the Problem Behaviours
In addition to knowing which behaviours are problematic, parents must also understand why and when these behaviours occur. Observing a child to see if there are any themes in where behaviours occur, if behaviours occur when certain people are or are not around, when behaviours occur and the consequences that these behaviours bring with them will help parents understand how best to target and modify these behaviours in a behaviour management plan.

Set Goals
When behaviours are identified and “understood,” goals should be set for the behaviour management plan. Both short term and long term goals should be delineated so that the plan can be assessed both during and after its use. Short term goals can be daily, weekly or even monthly. Most long term goals should be no longer than one year, and should not seek to eradicate behaviours completely. For example, thumb sucking may die out within a year but it is also a comforting gesture that a child may turn to in a time of high stress after the year is out. This does not mean that the behaviour management plan has failed.

Decide on a Path
When goals have been set, the behaviour management plan must be fleshed out. Deciding how to manage or modify behaviours is key. Will it be through positive reinforcement, negative consequences or a combination of both? What will the positive reinforcements be? What methods of discipline will be used as negative consequences? How long will these decisions stand before they must be reviewed? These are all questions that should be considered when a behaviour management plan is being devised. Professional educators and child development experts will likely be able to help, if needed.

Get Started
When a behavioural management plan is complete, it does no one any good unless it is put into practice. Explain decisions to the child, so that (s)he understands that from now on the target behaviour is unacceptable and there will be consequences if it does occur. If possible, start the plan on a Sunday or a Monday so that each week brings a clean slate. Be sure to celebrate major milestones throughout the plan (weekly and monthly “anniversaries”) and don’t be afraid to have a celebration for ultimate success.

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Natty - Your Question:
My son is nearly 6 years old. He has behavioural problems which seem to be getting worse. He hits, throws chairs, bites, kicks and punches. The school have now decided they are going to have a meeting and put a behavioural plan in place. What exactly does this entail? I feel so alone right now.

Our Response:
A Behaviour Plan is put in place to help with certainareas of the child's behaviour. It's there to help improve behaviour and to assist in identifying any behaviour triggers and strategies to help your child. It means that your child will have an idea what is expected from him and all the staff involved will be aware of the plan and will adopt the same strategies for dealing with your son's behaviour. At the meeting your child will be involved in all aspects: what they can do to help themselves and who else will be helping (and how). At this stage it's nothing to be worried about, the school is simply taking steps to address the issue. Take along a friend (or your son's father if he's around - even if you get on, it's important he's involved).
KidsBehaviour - 28-Jun-17 @ 2:18 PM
My son is nearly 6 years old. He has behavioural problems which seem to be getting worse. He hits, throws chairs, bites, kicks and punches. The school have now decided they are going to have a meeting and put a behavioural plan in place. What exactly does this entail? I feel so alone right now.
Natty - 27-Jun-17 @ 1:07 PM
Steve - Your Question:
My wife and I are becoming increasingly concerned about our 8 year old son. He has always been difficult and stubborn but we put this own to him being an only child and needing that extra bit of attention from us. Things have progressed quite rapidly overt the last six months, he has a real problem with us. He calls us all the names under the sun and has recently started to attack and launch things across the room when he doesn't get his own way which has resulted in a laptop and computer controller being broken. He has been brought up in a loving home and has what would appear from the outside the perfect life so we cannot see why he resents us so much. It is starting to really affect my wife and I, we are scared to take him out places in case he kicks off, even getting ready for school in the mornings can take up to two hours from him refusing and the resulting arguments and tantrums. My wife even has to go to work with her arms covered in scratches. He never seems happy even when we take him to do something nice and always wants more. Some of the things that come out of his mouth are shocking. He has always been ok at school until recently and he now says he hates his teacher (another figure of authority) because she tells him what to do. I am not sure whether this has been triggered by an event or if he is suffering ODD/ADHD as many of the symptoms of these I see in him and they are ever increasing. He is an extremely talented footballer and when he is playing that three/four times a week none of the behaviour is exhibited it just seems to be his parents and teachers he hates. I don't want to go down the therapy route quite yet although he is now having to talk to someone at school about his feelings due to being told off a lot in class. He is very intelligent and always has done well at school with a really good behavioural record until this year which makes me think something has triggered all of this? Any help would be greatly appreciated? I am particularly interested in a behaviour plan/chart I can use as I feel I would like to try and be consistent with his anger management before I take the next step and visit the GP. Any ideas?

Our Response:
Ask to speak to the head teacher at the school. If his behaviour is affecting his school work, they may have some suggestions as to who he can be referred to for an assessment. Your GP is definitely the best option after this.
KidsBehaviour - 2-May-17 @ 2:37 PM
My wife and I are becoming increasingly concerned about our 8 year old son. He has always been difficult and stubborn but we put this own to him being an only child and needing that extra bit of attention from us. Things have progressed quite rapidly overt the last six months, he has a real problem with us. He calls us all the names under the sun and has recently started to attack and launch things across the room when he doesn't get his own way which has resulted in a laptop and computer controller being broken. He has been brought up in a loving home and has what would appear from the outside the perfect life so we cannot see why he resents us so much. It is starting to really affect my wife and I, we are scared to take him out places in case he kicks off, even getting ready for school in the mornings can take up to two hours from him refusing and the resulting arguments and tantrums. My wife even has to go to work with her arms covered in scratches. He never seems happy even when we take him to do something nice and always wants more. Some of the things that come out of his mouth are shocking. He has always been ok at school until recently and he now says he hates his teacher (another figure of authority) because she tells him what to do. I am not sure whether this has been triggered by an event or if he is suffering ODD/ADHD as many of the symptoms of these I see in him and they are ever increasing. He is an extremely talented footballer and when he is playing that three/four times a week none of the behaviour is exhibited it just seems to be his parents and teachers he hates. I don't want to go down the therapy route quite yet although he is now having to talk to someone at school about his feelings due to being told off a lot in class. He is very intelligent and always has done well at school with a really good behavioural record until this year which makes me think something has triggered all of this? Any help would be greatly appreciated? I am particularly interested in a behaviour plan/chart I can use as I feel I would like to try and be consistent with his anger management before I take the next step and visit the GP. Any ideas?
Steve - 2-May-17 @ 9:26 AM
My son is 9 he has ADHD we are having problems at school and at home ,he can't control his temper and is hittingout .
Grace - 8-Dec-15 @ 5:42 PM
Mazda - Your Question:
Hi my son is 6 I believe he has odd and ocd. He has always been a defiant child but his behaviour is escalating. He tries to control everything even to the point if I move something of his he goes into a rage kicking shouting swearing. Until I put the object back. We have a tantrum at least once a day but he never does at school. He is an intelligent boy at age 10 level. He has an older brother who he beats up and tries to control too. We are also foster carers and I think there is some learned behaviour from the 8 year old twins we had. But I believe he has been like this most of his short life. I just don't k know what to do it has got to the point where I dont want to go out with him. Michelle

Our Response:
There are various steps you can try at first...certainly to deal with the OCD aspect of your son's behaviour. Take a look at our section on Behavioural Disorders where you'll find features on both OCD and ODD. If you cannot manage this behaviour yourself, you could ask your GP for a referral to a counsellor or therapist. Look also for local support groups for parents of children with similar behaviour traits.
KidsBehaviour - 28-Aug-15 @ 11:42 AM
Hi my son is 6 I believe he has odd and ocd.He has always been a defiant child but his behaviour is escalating.He tries to control everything even to the point if i move something of his he goes into a rage kicking shouting swearing. Until I put the object back. We have a tantrum at least once a day but he never does at school. He is an intelligent boy at age 10 level.He has an older brother who he beats up and tries to control too. We are also foster carers and I think there is some learned behaviour from the 8 year old twins we had. But I believe he has been like this most of his short life. I just don't k know what to do it has got to the point where I dont want to go out with him. Michelle
Mazda - 27-Aug-15 @ 3:30 PM
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