Several elements need to be in place for positive behaviour support (PBS) to be delivered appropriately and to be considered 'positive behaviour support'. 

On this page, you'll find information on things that you can start putting in place to help with behaviour which challenges. They include:

Keep a diary

All behaviour happens for a reason and can be considered a form of communication.

Keep a diary of the behaviour. Try to include as much information as possible including:

  • what happened before the behaviour, directly before which may have triggered the behaviour or leading up to the behaviour
  • a description of the behaviour
  • when the behaviour happened and for how long, who was there and where did it occur
  • what happened after the behaviour, for example did the individual receive anything or were they sent to their room
  • any early warning signs of the behaviour, such as louder voice
  • what else happened during the day. Keep track of daily routines alongside this.

This can help identify a pattern of behaviour to see what the reason for the behaviour is and what triggers the behaviour.

Common reasons include:

  • for social attention
  • to escape or avoid someone or something
  • to get something tangible
  • to meet a sensory need.


A lady communicating.

Some individuals have difficulties communicating or understanding others. This may mean they display behaviour which challenges, as they are unable to communicate their needs, wants or feelings.

Are you communicating in a way that the individual understands and engages with? Can you teach the individual new ways of communicating their needs, such as phrases or use of a visual card?

Community People in the community

Ask yourself:

  • how is the individual spending their day?
  • are they being active?
  • do they have friends and a social network?
  • what can you do to enable the individual to be part of the community and what opportunities are you aware of for social inclusion?
  • how can you help develop strategies for nurturing, developing and maintain relationships?
  • are there any outstanding issues which have not yet been addressed that may be influencing their behaviour?

Quality of life 

Two individuals talking in a cafe.

Consider how you can improve a person's quality of life. Improving an individual's quality of life can help to reduce behaviours which challenge.

In addition it’s important when implementing behavioural strategies to ensure they are also promoting an improved quality of life for an individual. For example, if an individual displays behaviour which challenges when at the play park a solution may be to avoid parks. However, this would not help to improve quality of life for the individual.

Consider how you can improve your own quality of life, as our own well-being and feelings can impact our ability to care and support individuals, and impact their behaviours.

A useful tool to help improve quality of life is Martin Selligman’s PERMA model.

Martin Seligman believes that the five core elements are what people need to achieve a healthy sense of well-being, fulfilment and satisfaction in life that can lead to finding life’s true meaning.

Positive emotion

Feeling good about something. Optimism and enjoyment through intellectual stimulation and creativity. Maybe thinking of three positive things a day or taking part in an activity that brings them joy.


When someone is fully immersed and engrossed and has a sense of 'flow' or the feeling of time flying by. Mindfulness can help develop a sense of flow thinking about the sensations taste, smell, feel and sound. Concentrating only on that activity and nothing else, is being in the moment. 


Having meaningful relationships and connections. We have a natural desire to want to be connected and be part of a group. This could be by building and strengthening existing relationships with teachers or key individuals in that person's life.


A sense of purpose, having a reason for why you exist to drive fulfilment, having an active role in the community.


When we achieve something we feel a sense of pride and want to continue to do more. A sense of accomplishment makes us feel good. Completing a task or a qualification, or set of tasks. 

Healthcare needs

Another thing to consider is whether are there any outstanding healthcare needs. Find out about learning disability annual health checks.


If we are tired or in a low mood we tend to act differently and this can impact others behaviours.

It can be so easy to forget to look after our own wellbeing when we are caring for others, particularly those displaying behaviours which challenge.

Get tips on how we can improve our own mental wellbeing.

More information

For more information around positive behaviour support and understanding behaviour which challenges look at our free e-learning page.

To hear more about PBS, other positive strategies and to help improve the support that individuals with learning disability, autism or complex needs receive, join the Positive Behaviour Support Community of Practice.

Positive Behaviour Support Community of Practice is a supportive community who share and learn from others with experience around learning disability and autism either through working with, supporting and caring for, or any other experience. 

If you're unable to attend or you missed a session, you can watch the recorded videos on the Community of Practice page. Videos are also applicable to children without additional needs.

For additional links and resources look at our parents resources page.

You may also be interested in:

Made with photosymbols Image credits: Photosymbols