How to Encourage a Replacement Behaviour

How to Encourage a Replacement Behaviour
A replacement behaviour is a positive alternative behaviour that replaces a more inappropriate
problem behaviour. The replacement behaviour needs to serve the same function as the problem
behaviour and it needs to gain the same or an even better response.
For example, instead of hitting to gain an interaction with others, a child can “high 5”
Problem behaviour = hitting
Function = to gain an interaction
Response = people interact with child
Replacement behaviour = “high 5”
To encourage the use of replacement behaviours the replacement behaviour needs to be:
Easier to use or do
More rewarding;
than the problem behaviour.
For example, when a child needs to escape from a classroom to calm down, instead of hitting the
child next to them the replacement behaviour could be the use of a time-out card. They will only
use this card if it is easier, more effective and more rewarding than hitting. Therefore the card
needs to be on top of their desk for easy access and placed on the teachers desk instead of
handing it to the teacher. The child also needs to be allowed to go outside to a quiet area and
rewarded for using the card eg. through a reward system.
The replacement behaviour can be easier in the following ways:
• Requires less effort
• Easier to understand by the child
• Easier to be understood by others
• Easier to get their hands on
The replacement behaviour must be as effective or more effective than the problem
• The behaviour must gain the response they are wanting or an even better response
• The behaviour has to serve the same function as the problem behaviour
• Strategies may need to be put in place to ensure that the replacement behaviour is effective
eg. peers informed to “high 5” when the child attempts to “high 5” them
The replacement behaviour must be rewarding
• The positive behaviour should be noticed and reinforced immediately and as frequently as
possible until the behaviour is mastered.
• There are different types of reinforcement. It is important to make sure the reinforcer IS
reinforcing for the child!
• The reinforcer could be praise, food, sensory activity (hug/tickle), tangible object (toy etc),
desired activity, quality time, star on a star chart, money etc.
Discouragement of problem or inappropriate behaviour
To ensure the replacement behaviour is used, the problem behaviour must be ineffective. A
problem behaviour can be discouraged through planned ignoring, minimal responses, redirection
and prevention or restriction of access to the desired object or activity when the problem
behaviour occurs.
© Behaviour Intervention Service 2008
© Behaviour Intervention Service