Longer term ideas

People who display behaviours that challenge need an individualised assessment and a variety of long term supports.  This often requires professional support but here are some ideas you may be able to start considering now. ​

 

Knowing more about when and why your relative displays behaviours that challenge can help you plan the best ways of supporting them and reduce the likelihood of this behaviour. ​

 

Often it is as if ‘things happen out of the blue’ but you might be able to spot patterns and early warning signs by asking some key questions. Recording a few details can really help with this too.     

Video: "Challenging behaviour and what that might mean for your relative"

Finding out more

Knowing more about when and why your relative displays behaviours that challenge can help you plan the best ways of supporting them and reduce the likelihood of this behaviour.

Often it is as if ‘things happen out of the blue’ but you might be able to spot patterns and early warning signs by asking some key questions. Recording a few details can really help with this too (a printable sheet for this section can be found here)     

Times and situations

Are behaviours that challenge more likely to happen at particular times? Do they tend to happen more at night, morning, weekdays, weekends?

Are behaviours that challenge more likely to happen in particular situations? Do they tend to happen more in certain places, during particular activities or with certain people?

Is there anything you or others could do at these times or in these situations that would be helpful for your relative and make behaviour that challenges less likely?

Are there any times these behaviours don’t happen? Can you use any of this information to make behaviours that challenge less likely at other times?

Early warnings

Are there any signs that your relative is becoming upset and may be about to display behaviour that challenges? Can you notice anything about:

  • Things they say or do?

  • Sounds they make or tone of voice?

  • Their facial expression?

  • Their facial colouring?

  • Changes in body language?

  • Their energy levels?

Video: "Preventing behaviours that challenge"

Is there anything you or others could do when noticing these things that would be helpful for your relative and make behaviour that challenges less likely?

Understanding why behaviours that challenge happen

     

Reasons Why

Here are some of the common reasons behaviours that challenge happen and how you might know. Any of these reasons could relate to any type of behaviour that challenges. Sometimes there is more than one reason. (click here for information sheet)

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative needs an interaction with someone

Things that might happen before the behaviour

Another person is nearby but not able to give full attention to your  relative

Things that might happen after the 

behaviour 

Somebody interacts with your relative in someway

Example 

Max’s older sister is speaking on the phone. Max is making a moaning sound and hits his face. His sister asks him to stop it and if he is OK. . 

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative is finding something difficult or does not like doing something 

Things that might happen before the behaviour

Somebody is asking your relative to do something

Things that might happen after the 

behaviour 

Your relative is given a break, some help or does not need to keep doing something

Example 

Tania has been asked to brush her hair. She hits out at her relative. Her carer leaves her to calm down then comes back and helps her do it.

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative wants something 

Things that might happen before the behaviour

Something your relative likes is nearby but they can’t get it. 

Things that might happen after the 

behaviour 

Your relative gets the thing they want

Example 

Mohamed has noticed his brother using the Tablet. He bangs down hard on a table. His brother says ‘OK it’s your turn now’ and gives it to Mohamed.    

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative wants to keep doing something they like

Things that might happen before the behaviour

Somebody is telling your  relative to stop doing something 

Things that might happen after the 

behaviour 

Your relative is able to keep doing the thing they like

Example 

Li Na has been watching TV. Her mother says it’s time to turn it off. Li Na screams and thumps her leg. Her mother leaves the TV on whilst trying to calm her. 

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative wants an interaction to end or to be alone 

Things that might happen before the behaviour

Somebody is interacting with your relative

Things that might happen after the 

behaviour 

The interaction with your relative ends, or they are left to be on their own

Example 

David’s father has been asking him about his day. David grabs his own face and then kicks out. His father is upset and stops talking with David. 

Sometime the other person in these examples may be you or another carer. It’s really important to note that neither the person displaying behaviour that challenges or the other person in these examples is doing these things on purpose.

 

Sometimes behaviour that challenges happens for other reasons too. They might happen when no one else is around but you may notice some clues:

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative is in pain or discomfort (which may include sensory discomfort) and the behaviour helps reduce this. 

 

(Your relative’s body is experiencing some sensory stimulation that they cannot ignore).

Things that you might see happening before the behaviour 

Your relative is showing other signs of being in pain or discomfort (their facial expression, body language or other communications indicate this)

 

Something else suggests they may be in pain or discomfort (they are unwell, have dental pain or there is something in their environment that is causing sensory upset) 

Example 

Nora has hay fever and the pollen count is very high. She is pulling hard at her ears.

Sabrina is tugging her hair hard and rocking her body. A neighbour is using an electric drill that is making a loud shrill noise

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative needs some stimulation and the behaviour helps provide this 

 

(Your relative’s body is craving/seeking some sensory stimulation that they cannot ignore). 

Things that you might see happening before the behaviour 

Your relative has little to do or is having to wait for something

Things that are happening do not interest your relative

Your relative has been doing the same thing for a long time

Example 

Andre has not been able to do his water activities today. He keeps spitting and then smearing this on surfaces. 

 

Afia has been waiting for her relatives to go outside. She has torn pieces of clothing and started chewing these

There is a blank copy of these forms available here. Recording times when your relative displays behaviours that challenge could help you find a pattern that fits with one of these examples.

Support based on the reasons

 

If you are able to get a better idea about why your relative is displaying behaviour that challenges, there are even more things you might consider to support them. These things help make behaviours that challenge less likely by making life better for your relative (An information sheet is available here).

  

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative needs an interaction with someone 

Provide more of the things they need

Increase interactions with your relative at times when behaviours that challenge are not happening. Little and often works well here.  Try to do this without increasing demands and so keep communication simple.  Make comments and provide a commentary rather than asking questions

Encourage an alternative to behaviour that challenges

How else does your relative let you know they need an interaction? Look out for other ways they let you know and encourage them to do this more in the future 

Reduce the things that are difficult

Try and limit long periods with no interaction for your relative. Try and engage them in something else if you cannot provide interaction for a time

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative is finding something difficult or does not like doing something 

Provide more of the things they need

Give more help to your relative during difficult tasks or things they don’t like doing before behaviours that challenge happen. Can you make it a bit easier and more enjoyable? Can you prepare them for the difficult task?

Reduce the things that are difficult

Limited amount of time your relative needs to spend doing something they do not like or find difficult. Breaking an activity like this into steps, with short breaks in between can help. 

Encourage an alternative to behaviour that challenges

How else does your relative let you know they don’t want to do something? Look out for other ways they let you know and encourage them to do this more in the future

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative wants something  

Provide more of the things they need

Increase access to things your relative likes when behaviour that challenges is not happening. Offering choices throughout the day helps here too. Think about their environment, are things they like within reach or do they have to wait for you to bring things to them.  Can this be improved?

Reduce the things that are difficult

Try and avoid just saying ‘No’. It helps to offer an alternative and make this available.

Encourage an alternative to behaviour that challenges

How else does your relative let you know they want something? Look out for other ways they let you know and encourage them to do this more in the future

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative wants to keep doing something they like

Provide more of the things they need

Increase access to things your relative likes when behaviour that challenges is not happening. Offering choices throughout the day helps here too

Reduce the things that are difficult

Try and avoid suddenly telling your relative something needs to end. It can help to give early warnings and a countdown can help too.  Make use of visual planners.

Encourage an alternative to behaviour that challenges

How else does your relative let you know they want to keep doing something? Look out for other ways they let you know and encourage them to do this more in the future

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative wants an interaction to end or to be alone 

Provide more of the things they need

Ensure your relative has times to be alone when they need this, before behaviour that challenges happens

Reduce the things that are difficult

Limit the length or kind of interactions your relative finds difficult 

Encourage an alternative to behaviour that challenges

How else does your relative let you know they want an interaction to end? Look out for other ways they let you know and respond to them, this will  encourage your relative to do this more in the future

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative is in pain or discomfort (which may include sensory discomfort)

Provide more of the things they need

Support your relative to look after their health and access health care. Support your relative to access anything that helps meet their sensory needs. Do they need pain relief?

Reduce the things that are difficult

Try and reduce anything in the environment that causes sensory distress for your relative. Take any medically advised actions to reduce pain or other symptoms of a physical health difficulty

Encourage an alternative to behaviour that challenges

How else does your relative let you know they are in pain or discomfort? Look out for these other clues so you can provide the support they need

Reason for a challenging behaviour

Your relative needs some stimulation

Provide more of the things they need

Support your relative to access sensory activities and gain the stimulation they need throughout the day

Reduce the things that are difficult

Try and avoid long periods in which your  relative is unoccupied, required to wait or do things that do not interest them 

Encourage an alternative to behaviour that challenges

How else does your relative let you know they need stimulation? Look out for these other clues so you can provide the support they need.

Read more from this section : 

©Positive Approaches to Support 2020.   Terms and conditions  

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.