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Getting Started with Positive Behavior Support at Home for Family Members

Family members, it is terrific that you are seeking information on positive behavior support, since it is beneficial for improving family life and enhancing children's behavior. Here are some steps to explore whether positive behavior support is a good match for your home, and if so, how to move forward:

1. Find Out

Learn about positive behavior support, focusing on its principles and process. You can learn about these principles at:

Determine what goals you would like to achieve through positive behavior support:

  • a. Improve your child’s behavior by
    • i. increasing desirable behavior and/or
    • ii. decreasing undesirable behavior?
  • b. Make certain valued daily routines within your home or community more successful
  • c. Support your entire family by using positive behavior support principles
  • d. Work in partnership with professionals to improve the use of positive behavior support in schools or community settings

Find out whether you are already using positive behavior support using these simple tools:

2. Build Support

Consider who is already part of your "support team" (e.g., family members, friends, teachers, employers, personal care assistants, respite workers, other professional service providers). Do they already understand and embrace positive behavior support principles, and are they willing to be of assistance? Share information on positive behavior support with others who may be involved in supporting your efforts.

If needed, seek out additional professional support from one or more of the following, making sure their approach aligns with positive behavior support principles:

If funding is needed, you may seek it through insurance coverage, Medicaid and waiver programs, and other community or government-funded programs. If not these services may be available through self-pay.

Consider joining a support group, either in person or via social networking. Yahoo.com has a great list of online support groups that offer opportunities for families to network, share resources and successful strategies used at home or in the community. Tip: Create a new email address, as some of these online groups are very active and will flood your email account.

3. Start Small but Think About the Big Picture

Think about your family values, goals, and expectations for behavior – working with other family members to determine what behaviors are – and are not -- acceptable. Think about what defines quality of life for your family. If chores or other tasks are required in your household, make sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Let children know when expectations change. PSN – Expectations

Try to understand what patterns may be affecting your child or family member’s behavior. Pay attention to what happens before and afterward – what circumstances or reactions contribute to successes and difficulties. Seek help in conducting a functional behavioral assessment if needed.

Arrange your environment to promote positive behavior (e.g., by having a list of house rules or everything a child needs to complete chores handy) and remove distractions or other problematic items (e.g., electronics during homework, dangerous items). PSN – Household Organization

Encourage your children to use words or other appropriate forms to communication (e.g., writing, pictures, gestures, iPad) to let you know what they need, rather than responding to problem behavior. Learn more about functional communication training and social and life skills instruction.

Reward your children for desirable behavior (i.e., meeting expectations) with praise, special activities or treats, privileges, and time off or reduced demands. Follow activities your children do not like with those they do. PSN – Reinforcement

Learn about mindfulness practices and cognitive-behavioral strategies that may help reduce stress, be more present, and keep you focused on your intentions as you put these changes in place (e.g., see PracticedMind app in Apple App Store).

Track improvements in behavior, as well as quality of life changes and celebrate positive changes. Change is hard, and you deserve reinforcement too. PSN – Monitoring

Pick one routine you find to be particularly important and/or challenging and start using these principles in just that routine, expanding when successful. (Family Routine Guide - http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/parent/mod6/family_routine_guide.pdf):

4. Take Next Steps

Access additional resources to guide you through the positive behavior support process.

Videos to support families to teach skills and handle challenges during routines at home.

Supporting your child’s behavior on your own:

Locate published books on positive behavior support for families and other evidence-based programs for improving children’s behavior and family functioning.