Helping Students with Behavioral Problems
Raven is a 7-year-old second grade student at Eagle Elementary School
who has repeatedly demonstrated acting out behaviors both in and
outside of the classroom. His teacher, Mrs. Bird, describes Jay's
behavior as "very disruptive" to her class. In addition, she has
grown increasingly concerned because Jay's behavior has become more
aggressive. According to Mrs. Bird, Jay has difficulty getting along
with other students in his class and often fails to follow her directions.
In particular, Jay frequently grabs, hits, or yells at other students
to either get their attention or to get something that he wants.
On occasion Jay has been very aggressive towards other students
and has reportedly punched or kicked his classmates for no apparent
reason. These behaviors have resulted in rejection and general isolation
from the other children. Regarding his academic skills, Mrs. Bird
reported that Jay is a "good" student, however, she added that he
often blurts out answers in class and is demanding of attention.
When Jay's teacher redirects his behavior he often refuses to cooperate,
which subsequently leads to extended periods of off-task behavior.
Thus, despite having the skills to perform academic tasks, Jay is
frequently unable to complete assignments.
order to gain a better understanding of Jay's behavior you decide
that a collaborative approach to problem solving would be best.
In doing so, you decide that a meeting with Jay's teacher and his
parents is necessary.
scheduling this meeting what stage of the process of implementation
are you engaging in? In addition to collecting information from
Jay's teacher and his parents what other important purposes could
be accomplished at this meeting?
the meeting the following information is revealed. In particular,
Jay's teacher reported the following pieces of information:
for Jay's behavior are increasing. The behavior has gotten worse
during the year.
Jay needs assistance in controlling his anger and getting along
with other students.
does not understand what causes his outbursts although she suspects
that he does this to avoid work.
Bird indicated that she is often "on-edge" around Jay because
she fears that he could "go-off" any minute.
Jay misbehaves she becomes angry and usually responds with punitive
actions such as referring him to the office.
the times when he receives direct instruction from the teacher
he experiences few behavioral difficulties. Most of his difficulties
occur when he is expected to work within a cooperative one-table
structure or independently.
parents added to the picture by providing their perspective of their
Ravens agreed with Mrs. Bird that Jay sometimes had difficulty
getting along with other children and that he occasionally throws
temper tantrums when he does not get his way.
exhibits no aggressive behavior at home.
has one brother and the home is described as "quiet".
Ravens live on a small farm in a remote area. This isolation has
resulted in few opportunities for Jay to interact with peers after
brother has had similar difficulties and was recently placed in
a program for students with academic and behavior problems.
Jay spends time with his brother in the afternoons and they have
reportedly skipped school together on several occasions.
the meeting all parties agree that more information is needed about
Jay's behavior. As a result, the school psychologist is asked to
conduct a functional assessment so that a comprehensive intervention
plan might be developed. The results of the assessment are shared
Aggressive Behavior (hitting, taking materials from other students,
and kicking) occurs, on average, 6 times per day.
is not exclusive to any one environment. It has been consistently
observed in the classroom, on the playground, and during lunch.
most often occurs when supervision is minimal. The teacher is
not in close proximity and when students are expected to work
independently. However, on several occasions behavior has been
demonstrated directly in front of teacher.
does not appear to be triggered by aversive stimuli.
Interview revealed that Jay is unable to effectively communicate
when he is upset or requests to peers.
to the behavior: Peers tattle and avoid future play. Teacher warns
or explains why the behavior is inappropriate.
revealed several inappropriate social behavioral responses when
hypothetical situations were presented for him to solve. His responses
suggest a skill deficit.
of Behavior: To gain access to preferred activities or items.
the Case Study
is a section of this website entitled "Models and Classroom Instruction".
There we provide a problem-solving format to assist schools and
families in developing intervention plans for students experiencing
behavioral difficulties. In this section we use that format to develop
some of the key questions that might need to be answered in order
to develop an intervention plan for Jay. As opposed to prescribing
one possible solution, the questions below should help you to develop
a plan that incorporates strategies of positive behavioral support
and possibly the use of social skills interventions.
1: Developing Collaborative Structures: Vision Sharing and Goal
Who are the key individuals that would be needed to develop a comprehensive
intervention plan for Jay?
Do these individuals have a shared understanding of the critical
behavioral problems that Jay exhibits?
In specific terms, what are the behavioral problems?
As opposed to exhibiting these difficulties, what positive behaviors
would the team like to see Jay exhibit instead?
2: Conduct a Functional Assessment:
The results of the functional assessment have already been presented.
Based upon those results do you have an understanding of the purpose
of Jay's behavior?
Do the results indicate how frequently the behavior occurs?
Do you know when and where the behavior occurs?
What types of events often occur before Jay exhibits this behavior?
How can this information be used to develop an intervention plan?
What other questions would you like answered?
3 & 4: Develop and Implement a Comprehensive Intervention Plan
What are the prosocial behaviors that Jay should exhibit? These
target behaviors should replace "aggressive behavior". How frequently
should these behaviors be exhibited? Is it reasonable to expect
that "aggressive behavior" will disappear overnight?
Are the prosocial behaviors that you identified functionally relevant?
That is, if Jay begins to display these behaviors will he continue
to receive attention and gain access to preferred activities?
Are the prosocial behaviors socially relevant? That is, do the important
people in Jay's life believe that these new behaviors are critical
for a productive and healthy lifestyle?
How and when will these prosocial behaviors be taught to Jay? Who
will teach these behaviors?
How frequently will these behaviors be reinforced? Which reinforcers
will be used?
In what ways will Jay's family be involved in implementing the plan?
How will daily communications occur? Will skills taught at school
be reinforced at home?
In what ways can the school day be modified so as to prevent the
occurrence of aggressive behavior? Are there any academic activities
or instructional procedures that can be modified?
Can Jay's peers be enlisted to assist Jay in exhibiting appropriate
What are some ways to insure that once Jay learns the new behavior
that he will exhibit these behaviors in many different circumstances
5: Monitor and Evaluate the Plan
How does the team intend to determine if the intervention is working?
What data will be used to determine whether prosocial behavior is
increasing? Aggressive behavior decreasing?
How frequently will the team review the data to determine the effectiveness
of the intervention?
How will information regarding Jay's behavior at home be collected?
Will follow-up support be provided to Jay's teacher and his parents
to ensure that the intervention gets off to a good start? How will
the team go about making modifications to the plan if such modifications
How will the team know when Jay has reached the goal set forth in
the intervention plan?
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