Intervention Approaches: From Least Restrictive to More Restrictive

1.  REINFORCING THE ABSENCE OF A NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR

Definition:  Reinforcing the absence of an undesired behavior without pinpointing or teaching a specific adaptive alternative behavior, also called “catching the child being good”

When to Use:

           When you first begin to target a negative behavior and you need to clarify your behavioral expectations to the child

           When you are not sure about the function of the negative behavior

            When you are developing ideas about adaptive alternative behaviors

            When the child’s behavioral repertoire is somewhat restricted and does not yet include high rates of the adaptive alternative behavior

When Not to Use:

            When you have a clear idea of the adaptive alternative behavior and the function

            When the child has demonstrated the capability of using the adaptive alternative behavior

How You Can Tell If It’s Working: 

            If the child decreases the frequency of  the negative behavior over time

 

 2.  REINFORCING APPROPRIATE ADAPTIVE BEHAVIORS

Definition:  Reinforcing desired behaviors which meet the child’s needs in an appropriate way (e.g., raising hand to get attention instead of screaming) and which are physically incompatible with the undesired behavior (e.g., sitting appropriately instead of running out of the room)

When to Use: 

            When you can identify an alternative behavior which meets the child’s needs more appropriately than the negative behavior

            When you can identify an alternative behavior which is physically impossible for the child to perform while he/she is performing the negative behavior

When Not to Use:

            If the negative behavior threatens the safety of the child -- in these instances, you  also need to physically redirect the behavior

How You Can Tell If It's Working:

            If the child begins to perform the appropriate behavior you are trying to teach him/her across situations

 

3.  IGNORING A BEHAVIOR

Definition:  Continuing to attend normally and naturally to the child without responding to an inappropriate behavior - or  not attending to the child while the behavior is occurring

When to Use: 

            If the child is behaving poorly and wants you to respond to his/her behavior (i.e., the function of the behavior is to gain attention or a reaction)

            If the behaviors are harmless, but irritating

When Not to Use:

            If the behavior poses a risk to the child's or another person's safety or well-being

How You Can Tell If It's Working:

            If the child continues to watch for your reaction to the behavior

 

4.  VERBAL CORRECTION / REDIRECTION

Definition:  Saying "No" in a firm voice and physically stopping the behavior

When to Use: 

            Useful with behaviors which can be physically stopped and have a clear beginning and an end (i.e. hitting self, throwing toys, hitting peer)

When Not to Use: 

            If the behaviors cannot be physically stopped without putting the child at risk (For example, it should not be used for behaviors such as screaming.)

How You Can Tell If It's Working:

            If the child eventually learns to stop the behavior when you say no, eliminating the need for you to physically prompt him/her

 

5.  TIME-OUT FROM ATTENTION

Definition:  Removing the child from a situation and placing him/her in a quiet area for a brief, predetermined period of time where the child receives no attention

When to Use: 

            When the child is behaving poorly to get attention or a reaction

When Not to Use:

             If the child is acting out in order to escape or avoid people, changes, transitions, or demands of any kind

How You Can Tell If It's Working:

            If the child is initially distressed by going to time-out or losing access to attention

            If the child is pleased when time-out is over

           

6.  TIME-OUT FROM AN ACTIVITY

Definition:  Removing an activity from the child -  or removing the child from an ongoing activity -  for a brief, predetermined period of time

When to Use: 

            If the child is behaving poorly in an effort to get more of an item/activity

When Not to Use:

            If the child is acting out in order to escape or avoid people, changes, transitions, or demands

How You Can Tell If It's Working:

            If the child initially resists removal of the activity

            If the child is happy to return to the activity

 

7.  PHYSICAL GUIDANCE TO COMPLETE PART OF AN ACTIVITY

Definition:  Physically prompting or guiding the child through a small segment of the activity after an inappropriate behavior has occurred during the activity.  "Activities" are broadly defined to include:  tasks, play experiences, community experiences, transitions, etc.  This is an important strategy for teaching children that they cannot use negative behaviors to escape from difficult situations.  This technique must always be accompanied by teaching alternative ways of escaping situations (e.g. saying "no", signing "finished", touching your arm to request help.)

When to Use: 

            If the child is behaving poorly to escape a demand, transition, or activity

            If the task/activity can be broken into smaller components or shorter segments

When Not to Use:

            If the child is behaving poorly to get attention

            If the activity is impossible to break down into smaller segments

            If the behavior is so intense that you will be unable to safely guide the child through completing even part of the activity

 

How You Can Tell If It's Working:

            If the child is able to complete more tasks, activities, and transitions without behaving poorly