Logo for the Association for Positive Behavior Support

School-wide & Organization-wide Positive Behavior Support

Positive behavior support is a community based approach that involves learning more about the environment in which a child or adult lives, and working collaboratively with everyone in that setting to design strategies for promoting positive social and communication skills. Preventing problem behavior becomes the focus of planning for larger groups so that all children and adults within a setting are interacting in positive and meaningful ways.

The triangle below provides a way to think about systems change in positive behavior support. A systems-wide approach to PBS means that strategies for teaching social and communication skills and for reinforcing those skills are established so that all of the children or adults within a setting are receiving support in a preventative manner. In addition, plans are made to make sure everyone is consistent when responding to the occurrence of problem behavior. Strategies that address all children within a school, or all of the adults in a community setting are referred to as Primary Prevention strategies.

However, some children or adults may need additional support to be successful. Creating strategies for the early identification of children and adults in need of additional support is a critical part of positive behavior support. Intervening early and providing extra individualized or targeted group instruction in social and communication skills and changing the environment in ways that prevent problem behavior is an important part of Secondary Prevention strategies. Finally, a more comprehensive and individualized positive behavior support plan may be needed to ensure a child or adult receives that support needed to be successful and happy and to decrease the occurrence of problem behavior. These strategies are referred to as Tertiary Prevention.

Although PBS implementation may look different in early childhood settings, in public schools, or working with adults with disabilities, the systems and processes are similar.