There is no universally accepted definition of challenging behavior. Behavior is defined as acceptable or not in a social context, and is also shaped by the broader environment in which people interact with each other. In general terms, teachers accept that challenging behavior in the school context encompasses behavior that: interferes with the pupil’s own and/or other pupils’ learning; challenges the day to day functioning of the school; challenges the right of staff and pupils to a safe and orderly environment; has a duration, frequency, intensity or persistence that is beyond the normal range of what schools tolerate; and is less likely to be responsive to the usual range of interventions used by the school for pupil misbehavior.
The most effective methodology, which teachers develop when attempting to manage challenging behavior, is to prevent it occurring in the first place. To this end, many schools have developed strategies to promote positive behavior. This is based on the assumption that all behavior (negative and positive) is learned and, therefore, that acceptable behavior can be learned. It is also predicated on the belief that behavior is contextual, so children can be taught to behave in a certain way in the school context. Acceptable behavior is then reinforced in a school and classroom climate which is supportive of positive behavior. Among these strategies, teachers use positive and negative reinforcement to manage challenging behaviors.
Reinforcement is a stimulus which follows and is contingent upon a behavior and increases the probability of a behavior being repeated. Positive reinforcement can increase the probability of not only desirable behavior but also undesirable behavior. For example, if a student whines in order to get attention and is successful in getting it, the attention serves as positive reinforcement which increases the likelihood that the student will continue to whine. This would include activities such as running,...
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