Challenging Behavior


What is challenging behavior?

‘Challenging behaviour’ sounds like a pretty broad term, and it is. Challenging behaviour describes behaviour that is challenging to parents, carers, teachers and other professionals.

Chllenging behaviour can include tantrums, hitting or kicking other people, throwing things or self-harming.

Behaviour is challenging if it is harmful to the person and others around them, and if it stops the person achieving things in their daily life, such as making friends or concentrating at school.

Living with challenging behaviour can be a stressful and exhausting time.­ Every day activities, such as going to school or to the park, can become more complicated.



What causes challenging behaviour?

There is no single cause for challenging behaviour, but environment, relationships, discomfort and frustration are all common reasons.

People with a disability are more likely to show challenging behaviour in order to express themselves.

There are a few things you can do to help manage your child’s challenging behaviour:

  • Work out common triggers – this could be in the environment, or with certain people.
  • Find ways to help the person express themselves.
  • Help the person to feel happy, and spend time doing the things they enjoy.
  • Develop simple coping strategies to reduce stress, such as controlled breathing or counting.
  • Stay alert and try to anticipate problems.
  • Create a strong support network of family, friends and professionals if necessary.

A really good resource I came across was this Anger Iceberg, this represents  that the behaviors seen (tip of the iceberg) is actually just the surface and the underlying problems (bottom of the iceberg) are what is causing this seen behavior.


Advice and support

Contact the Learning Disability Helpline for information about challenging behaviour.

You can find also information and support from the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.

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