Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is an approach that is used to support behaviour change in the children we care for here at WHSS. Unlike traditional methods used, the focus is not on ‘fixing’ the person, or on the challenging behaviour itself and never uses punishment/sanctions as a strategy for dealing with the behaviour of concern. PBS is based upon the principle that if we can teach our children a more effective, and more sociably acceptable response to their overwhelming thoughts and feelings than the concerning one, the likelihood and frequency of the behaviour of concern will reduce.
PBS suggests that concerning behaviours are a learned response to an overwhelming thought, emotion or feeling, and so are open to being changed. PBS teaches alternative behaviour and promotes enabling environments to support the children. There is nothing wrong with wanting attention, to escape from a difficult situation, wanting certain items, or displaying behaviours which just feel good. PBS helps our children achieve a better quality of life by increasing the number of ways they are able to meet these needs: for example, by developing communication skills.
PBS helps our children learn new skills. For new skills to be used regularly, they have to be more effective than the challenging behaviour. We can make this happen by understanding the reasons children like ours display challenging behaviour, and by making sure the new behaviours we want to teach are reinforced in the same way. Through the use of positive relationships, staff and student de-brief and staff and student reflection we are able to support our children to think about the many contributing factors to their presenting behaviours. Children are given time and space which means these conversations allow the children to think about the emotional and physiological changes they experience before, during and after the behaviours they present that challenge us. Once we can label these thoughts and feelings then we can begin to put strategies in place to support the children to be able to choose from a number of different responses to the thoughts and feeling they now recognise and understand. Over time the positive responses to these different choices reinforce the children’s view that an expression of their thoughts and feelings don’t have to result in a negative experience or response. Therefore, supporting behavioural change.