One Way To Decrease Challenging Behaviors!

July 2, 2011

Preventing Behaviors

An understanding of “setting events” can help you to prevent or de-escalate crisis behaviors!  In fact, in the field of crisis prevention the concept of setting events is an important consideration in problem-solving challenging behaviors.  If you were to only learn one important thing from this post, this would be it:

Minimizing the effects of a setting event will go a long ways towards preventing and de-escalating a child’s challenging behaviors.

Applying the concept of setting events would be a very significant step for you and enhance your ability to decrease challenging behaviors.  And the really cool part about it is:  It’s not that difficult to apply!

I have been in the field of of conflict management for over 11-years and have worked with hundreds of parents, teachers, and direct care providers.  It’s been my professional experience that the most difficult part of getting people to apply this strategy to prevent crisis behaviors is simply recognizing that there is such a concept and taking the time to understand it.

It’s been my personal experience as a father of triplet boys on the autism spectrum that once you understand the concept, and recognize that it influences your care-receiver’s behaviors, you now have an indispensable tool in bringing about more peace and quiet to you home.

Let’s cut to the chase and let me give you the positive support strategy for minimizing challenging behaviors through the use of a setting event intervention.  You owe it to yourself and the children in your special needs ministry to master the following two steps:

Use the Setting Events Checklist.  It’s not unusual for a setting event to be a factor influencing challenging behaviors.  However, also remember that there are a variety of other things that can cause behaviors too.  You are not always going to find a setting event as one of the contributing factors to crisis behaviors.  The value of using a Setting Events Checklist is that you can go through item by item and determine if any of them are possible causes.

Minimize the likelihood of the setting event.  This is actually the easy part!.  The intent behind this step is to think about what you could do to offset the effects of the setting event that is contributing to crisis behaviors.   You may not be able to do anything about the fact that a setting event has occurred…but you can do something about how long it continues to be a factor related to your child’s behaviors.  What you do to minimize the influence of the setting event will be directly related to that event.  Let me give you a few examples so you can get the gist of this step:

Setting Event: Environmental

  • Loud noises:  remover your learner from the loud environment.  Let your child listen to music with earbuds.  Allow your child to wear noise-reducing headphones.
  • Heat/cold:  adjust the temperature.  Change into cooler outer wear.  Add a layer of clothing.
  • Transitions: provide a 5-minute and then a 1-minute reminder before the transition.  Use a timer to show how many minutes are left until the next activity.

Setting Event: Social

  • Certain individuals:  make sure to take time throughout the day to have your learner spend time having fun with that particular person.
  • Losing a game:  arrange for your child to do well at a game and win every now and then.  Play a different game.
  • Changes in staff/teachers:  provide advanced notice to your learner about the change.  Have the new staff/teacher spend some time and get acquainted for several days before the change.

Setting Event: Physiological

  • Lack of sleep:  allow your child to take a nap.
  • Hunger/Thirst:  provide something to eat or drink.
  • Allergies:  provide an over the counter allergy aide.
  • Changes in brain function:  familarize yourself with the deficits that are caused by changes in the brain.  Be proactive in providing the positive support strategies that can compensate for a loss in mental/physical/social functioning.

This list is by no means exhaustive.  There are a variety of other setting events and each one unique to your particular learner.  Likewise there are a variety of strategies to minimize the likelihood of the setting event and the one that you use should be effective for your child (which may be different than what works for a different child).

Summing it up:

  1. Be aware that setting events can lead to crisis behaviors.
  2. Use the Setting Events Checklist to determine if a setting event is effecting your child
  3. De-escalate the crisis behaviors by taking steps to minimize the setting event.

Following these steps will be a small investment of your time that can produce tremendous benefits for you and your learner!

If you’d like to learn more about this concept or others like it then visit my blog:  you’ll be glad you did!

Michael Woods, M.A.

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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