Effects of Positive Behavior Support

Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is a system of behavior management strategies that are utilized to decrease problematic behavior by making changes in the individual’s skill set and environment. PBS also focuses on improving the quality of life of those with behavioral challenges and seeks to understand the reasons behind the concerning behaviors. According to the Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS), the most effective positive behavior support involves a combination of valued outcomes, behavioral and biomedical science, validated procedures, and a variety of system changes.


What the Experts Say About PBS

Previously, behavior modification systems focused singularly on the problem behavior and an immediate solution, with no regard to any other implications that the behavior change may bring about. However, effective positive behavior support strategies strive to increase an individual’s overall success, including personal satisfaction, positive social interactions, and improved quality of life. Furthermore, positive behavior support has improved in effectiveness as research has been done regarding behavior and the environment in which it occurs. In addition to exploring the role of behavioral interventions, PBS specialists have connected the significance of studying both the behavior and psychiatric state of individuals. More evidence is continuously being found that links both physiological and environmental factors to an individual’s behavior. The most effective positive behavior support interventions are multi-faceted and include considerations of various factors that may affect behavior. The procedures utilized to improve behavioral struggles include varying levels of intervention, as well as proven and validated strategies.

Why Does Positive Behavior Support Matter?

The primary goal of positive behavior support is to frame behaviors and expectations in a positive manner. It promotes good-decision making skills and a positive view of directions and expectations, as it leans more towards telling students what they can do and rewarding positive behavior, rather than telling them what they cannot do and punishing them for negative behavior. In any situation where it is used, positive behavior support matters a great deal when it comes to encouraging positive student behavior and promoting social, emotional, and academic success. It is not only about setting clear expectations and following through on the stated and standard consequences when expectations are broken, but it is also about implementing effective plans when a problem does arise and working to bring about appropriate and acceptable behaviors from everyone involved.

The Role of Positive Behavior Support in Schools

Many schools have baseline expectations that they set for their students, such as “be kind,” “be respectful,” and “make responsible decisions.” Then within each classroom, each teacher typically has his or her own set of rules and expectations that are more specific, such as “keep your hands to yourself,” and  “keep your eyes on your own paper.” When an entire school utilizes the exact same expectations and positive behavior support methods, students will understand that the behavioral standards are the same no matter where they are in the school or what teacher they are with. They will know exactly what to expect should they choose to misbehave, and teachers won’t have to worry about selecting consequences based on various students and their less-than-ideal behaviors. Consistency is key, particularly when it comes to children and your expectations of them, so implementing a school-wide or classroom-wide positive behavior support plan will help both you and your students understand what is expected of them and what will happen if those expectations are not met. This will result in better behavior, fewer instances of misbehavior, and an all-around better atmosphere that is more conducive to learning.

The Effects of Positive Behavior Support

Numerous studies have proven that effective implementation of Positive Behavior Support systems bring about substantial beneficial changes and a great deal of positive effects. The key, however, to achieving these favorable outcomes is consistently enforcing positive behavior support methods and ensuring that every adult involved in the execution of the methods is fully committed to it. When students sense or know that certain teachers are more relaxed about imposing consequences or that certain places or times may not require as strict adherence to the expectations, the systems will not work effectively and behavioral problems will arise.

  • Improved Behavior in Students – One study found that students involved in school-wide behavioral interventions were 33% less likely to receive office referrals based on behavior. Students are more likely to follow rules, stay within behavioral guidelines, and meet positive expectations for them when consistent positive behavior support is implemented in the school. Students are less likely to test boundaries, less likely to intentionally misbehave, and less likely to act out for attention when PBS is in effect. Students in schools with PBS systems have also proven to have lower levels of aggressive and disruptive behaviors than students in non-PBS schools.
  • Better Concentration in Students – Due to a lack of behavioral problems, whether with individual students or classes and schools as a whole, students who attend a school that focuses on PBS are less distracted and have an easier time concentrating. There are many reasons for improved concentration. The students in PBS environments tend to feel more cared for at school, so they have less of a need to act out for attention. They also want to better fit in with their peers, so they are more likely to go with the majority of well-behaving attitudes and actions of their classmates. Students who are less distracted with their own behavioral struggles or those of their peers tend to concentrate significantly better, leading to a better classroom environment and a more conducive learning environment, therefore ultimately leading to more student success.
  • Improved Social & Emotional Function – Students who participate in PBS programs learn how to better regulate their emotions, adjust to emotional situations, and work through situations rationally rather than based solely on emotions. Additionally, students in positive behavior support environments show more “prosocial behaviors,” meaning that they exhibit more actions that are intended to help others. Students show more empathy, understanding, and general kindness when they attend a school with consistent positive behavior support implementation, as well as show more sensitivity to modest intervention techniques so that extreme consequences and behavioral adjustment measures are rarely taken.
  • Better Quality of Life for Everyone Involved – When teachers, administrators, and parents come together to improve the behavior and quality of life of their students and their schools, great things happen. Students are more engaged and attentive in class, they learn and retain more important information, they grow personally and emotionally, they experience more positive social interactions, and they are more likely to achieve academic success both in their current school and in future educational endeavors. Here at TCI, we are passionate about educators everywhere helping their students succeed, and we encourage you to learn more about Positive Behavior Support and effective implementation techniques for you school.
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