Someone recently asked about whether the Unified Model of Early Intervention 0-5 addresses challenging behavior. Indeed it does, but the question made me realize I had developed the original Unified Model graphic with behavior management under the Engagement Classroom Model, because we have always seen the need for classroom teachers to use effective behavior management strategies.
But our work in challenging behaviors in home-based supports to families and other caregivers is also robust, so I have moved behavior management to the middle column on the following graphic. This column is for practices implemented both in the home and in the classroom.
In our programming at Siskin Children’s Institute, where we demonstrate many of the practices of the UMEI 0-5, we have a dedicated position in our home-visiting program: an early intervention behavior specialist. And we have a program called Training for Intervention, Engagement, and Reinforcement for children up to age 12 who have challenging behaviors.
We follow principles of positive behavior support (which includes improving family quality of life), operant conditioning, and consultation (AKA coaching) principles.
Some of these key principles are
1. Provide the support as a consultative service to the family and the early interventionist; don't add to a multidisciplinary effort.
2. Determine whether the support to the family should consist of parenting suggestions, changes within routines, or a behavior plan; don't assume all challenging behaviors require a behavior intervention plan.
3. Behavior interventions happen in daily life, not in sessions, so use a Focused RBI and proceed very much like we do in Routines-Based Early Intervention.
4. Make sure families and teachers absorb the 11 principles of behavior management* (something we developed).
5. Make sure all families and teachers know how to use sit and watch (AKA contingent observation).
*The 11 Behavior Management Principles
1. First, it gets worse when you begin an intervention.
2. Pick your battles.
3. Prevention is better than attempting a cure.
4. Be consistent but recognize that life isn’t consistent.
5. Structure can help.
6. Ignore what you don’t want.
7. Attend to what you do want.
8. Negative attention can still be reinforcing.
9. Spend quality, nonconflictual time with your children.
10. Have realistic expectations.
11. Discipline is teaching.