Bo Hejlskov Elvén

Behaviours of concern

Often we define challenging behaviour as specific behaviours. It might be slapping, kicking, thrashing, foul words or self harm. Most psychological and pedagogical methods concerning behaviours of concern have been developed around the behaviour in order to change it. Unfortunately it is difficult and takes time to change behaviour in people with special needs if we focus on the behaviour.

I define challenging behaviour as behaviour that creates a challenge for staff or parents. It isn’t the person with the behaviour who experiences a problem or a challenge, but the staff or parent. This way of thinking focuses on the staff’s feeling of security and on their methods, not the actual behaviour. A behaviour never emerges in a vacuum, all behaviour emerges in the interaction between people.

This means that the easiest way of working with people with challenging behaviour is to empower the staff or parents so that they can manage the behaviour. If you can manage challenging behaviour it is no longer challenging and you don´t affect the behaviour of the person with developmental disabilities as much. This makes room for development and makes behaviour change faster than if the focus had been on the actual behaviour.