7. New Skills And Behaviour

Another intervention strategy that can be helpful is replacing the challenging behaviour with an alternative behaviour or skill. To do this, we need to ask, "What do we want the person to do instead?” “Can we replace the need for the behaviour?” The focus of this step is on helping the person learn new skills and encouraging more acceptable or constructive behaviours. Instead of focussing solely on what you want them to stop doing, think about WHAT DO YOU WANT THE PERSON TO DO INSTEAD? It is important to find things for them to do which are acceptable, but which also meet the same needs as the challenging behaviour (i.e. they obtain the same result). Here is a suggested list of skills that you might consider teaching the person to help them to cope with challenging situations: -


  • Teach them to tell you/show you that there is a problem. They will need to know that you will listen to them if they communicate a problem;

  • Teach them to make meaningful choices;

  • Support them to find alternative ways of gaining the sensory input they require;

  • Teach them to use a SAFE PLACE when they are feeling stressed or anxious;

  • Teach them emotional recognition and emotional regulation skills using a 3 point scale (see guide). For more able people this can be increased to a 5 point scale.


Some questions to ask to ask yourself when you are thinking about teaching new skills and behaviours include:

  • What do you want the person to do before there is a crisis?

  • What do you want the person to do at times of crisis?

  • Are the new skills and behaviour serving the same purpose as the old challenging behaviour?

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