Replacement Behaviors

An important part of developing a behavior support plan with a team is to identify the behaviors that you want to see instead of the challenging behavior(s). The new behaviors are called, “replacement skills”. The key to identifying replacement skills is to find skills that are equally as efficient and effective for the child to use as the challenging behavior. In order to figure this out, teams must figure out the function of the child’s behavior.

Most behavior falls into one of two categories. The behavior’s function is to either “Escape” and activity, demand or social interaction or it is to “Obtain” attention from a person, object or activity. Once the function of the behavior is determined, it is much easier to think about the possible replacement skills. For example, if the child yells and gets upset when a transition is announced, then we might prefer having the child say, “5 more minutes please?” This replacement skill allows the child to finish or have a few minutes to adjust to the change in activities in an appropriate manner. Another example might be a child who grabs toys/objects s/he wants. A preferred skill (i.e., replacement skill) is to ask others for toy/objects that you want. The child can be taught to use words, signs, gestures or visuals to communicate this message to peers and adults.

The following strategies may assist a child with learning a replacement skill:

· Replacement cue cards (e.g., solution kit cue cards)
· Individualized social stories about using the replacement skill
· Best Behavior Series books (e.g., selecting a book from this series that matches the replacement skill)
· Giving least to most prompting of the use of replacement skill
· Pre-teaching the replacement skill via a variety of forms (e.g., puppets, role playing, incidental teaching etc.), sensory strategies,
· Using visuals of rules and expectations that correspond with the replacement skill
These strategies are contained and discussed in more detail in Module 3a and 3b of the CSEFEL training materials at

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