Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

By Nicolette Cheff, LMSW

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an approach widely used in schools to foster positive behavior and create a supportive learning environment. PBIS focuses on teaching and reinforcing desired behaviors rather than solely relying on punishment. The impact of PBIS on children is significant, as it helps develop their social-emotional skills, self-regulation, and overall well-being.

Children’s reactions to PBIS can vary depending on their individual personalities, experiences, and developmental stages. Some children respond positively to PBIS as they appreciate the clear expectations, consistent reinforcement of positive behaviors, and the opportunity to earn rewards or recognition. PBIS can help them feel more motivated, engaged, and supported in their academic and social endeavors. These children may display improved self-regulation skills, increased empathy, and better relationships with peers and teachers.

However, it’s important to acknowledge that not all children will react to PBIS in the same way. Some children may initially resist or have difficulty adjusting to the expectations and routines established by PBIS. They may struggle with understanding and adhering to the rules, and it may take time for them to fully embrace the positive behavior supports. It’s crucial for educators and caregivers to provide additional guidance, patience, and support to these children, helping them build the necessary skills and understand the benefits of positive behavior.

In some cases, children who have experienced trauma, have underlying mental health conditions, or face significant challenges in their lives may require more individualized support alongside PBIS. It’s important to consider the unique needs of each child and provide targeted interventions to address their specific circumstances.

Firstly, PBIS promotes a clear set of expectations and consistent reinforcement of positive behaviors. This clarity provides children with a sense of structure and predictability, leading to reduced anxiety and improved self-confidence.

Secondly, PBIS emphasizes positive reinforcement, such as rewards and recognition, for demonstrating desired behaviors. This approach motivates children and reinforces their efforts, fostering a sense of achievement and increasing their intrinsic motivation to continue practicing positive behaviors.

Thirdly, PBIS encourages a whole-school or whole-class approach, where everyone participates in creating a positive environment. This creates a sense of belonging and community among children, fostering positive peer relationships and reducing instances of bullying or exclusion.

Parents can also apply PBIS strategies at home to further support their children’s behavioral development. Here are three strategies:

1. Clearly define expectations: Establish clear expectations for behavior at home, and communicate them to your child in a positive and age-appropriate manner. Consistency is key, so ensure that expectations are consistently reinforced and acknowledged.

2. Use positive reinforcement: Implement a system of rewards or incentives to reinforce positive behavior at home. This could involve praise, tokens, or a reward chart to recognize and celebrate your child’s efforts in demonstrating desired behaviors.

3. Teach and model social-emotional skills: Take time to teach and discuss important socialemotional skills with your child, such as empathy, problem-solving, and self-regulation. Model these skills in your own behavior and provide opportunities for your child to practice them in various situations.

By implementing these strategies, parents can create a positive and supportive environment at home, reinforcing the principles of PBIS and promoting their child’s social-emotional development and positive behavior. Overall, PBIS has the potential to create a positive and nurturing school environment, but it is essential to tailor the approach to meet the diverse needs of children and provide appropriate support when necessary.

Nicolette Cheff, LMSW, EDS has worked in the schools for 25 years. Nicolette has worked for Oakland Psychological in Grand Blanc, Mi for five years. Her experience includes working with children between the ages of 5 and 18 years of age both clinically and in the K-12 school system both in general and special education. Nicolette has worked both in urban and rural school districts in the capacity of a school social worker, MTSS Coordinator, and Administrator for Mental Health Supports. She has expertise in providing support and counseling services with individuals, families, and communities to address social and emotional challenges. She is trained to assess client needs, develop treatment plans, and connect individuals with resources. Nicolette prioritizes the best interest of the child above all else in all situations. She has a goal of making a positive impact on the well-being of all those she treats both in and out of the schools she supports.

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