Proactive Strategies with behavioural problems

Proactive strategies are the strategies that are already in place to deal with behavioural problems. Proactive behaviour management is about sharing what strategies are with the children to make sure they know what’s expected of them. Reasons children behave as expected could be that they simply ‘know’ what is expected of them or they ‘know’ the consequences for not behaving appropriately. Praise is the best way of promoting a proactive behaviour management plan. We need to give lots of praise for positive behaviour and logical consequences for inappropriate behaviour.

The best way to let children know what you expect of them is to remind them every day, tell them the rules of the setting, discuss choices with them and don’t forget to praise them when they are behaving appropriately.

Proactive strategies include:

  • Rule making and boundary setting
  • Know how to undertake observations that identify events and triggers
  • Know policies and procedures
  • Celebrate and praise all children’s accomplishments

Reactive Strategies

Reactive strategies are how you deal with an incidence of inappropriate behaviour at the time it occurs.

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We respond to the child’s choice and implement a consequence for inappropriate behaviour. No matter how good our proactive strategies are we will at some time need to use a reactive strategy. Consequences that are reinforced to children on a daily basis as part of proactive strategies will be carried out in reactive strategies. If a child makes an inappropriate choice then we must redirect their behaviour.

Reactive strategies include:

Use knowledge to manage an incident of conflict

Support children to achieve a positive resolution and agree ways to avoid conflict in the future.

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My role in my setting includes some of the following to help identify the proactive and reactive strategies;

Diversion strategy

Negotiation – that de-escalates a situation, restore calms, resolves conflict and disputes.


Physical and verbal intervention

Challenging inappropriate behaviour

Anti bullying strategies

Practitioner’s knowledge of how to avoid escalating a situation Explaining the potential outcomes of children’s chosen actions.

Time out or breather, calm down strategy

Organising the environment

Using non-confrontational language that avoids blaming – YOU did that Whole setting approach, room approach, indoor, outdoor approach.

The importance of identifying patterns of behaviour or triggers that result in challenging behaviour is that early warning signs can be spotted and acted upon before the behaviour happens or escalates.

Some identifications of a precursor to challenging behaviour are tense muscles, pacing, sweating, facial expressions and increased rate of breathing. These can be difficult to spot in young children. A young person may exhibit changes in their ‘baseline’ behaviour or mood.

Factors that can lead to mood changes are:-

  • Lack of choice – ensure there are plenty of activities to choose from.
  • Boredom through lack of environment – ensure a good, well set out environment.
  • Limited communication and understanding – ensure you engage children in conversation.
  • Over stimulation through noise and general disruption to routine – a calm environment is needed.
  • Overcrowding – if too many children around one activity then redirect some to another activity.
  • Antagonism, aggression or provocation by others – the child causing the disruption needs to be removed from the situation before it escalates.
  • Frustration – a child may get frustrated if they can’t do a certain activity, adult intervention will diffuse this situation as the activity can be shown to the child.
  • Physical illness – the child will need extra support if they are unwell.
  • Emotional upset due to bereavement – the child will need extra support.

Challenging behaviour is a very individual thing, the causes and triggers differ according to each individual, as do the reactions and their degrees of severity. It is therefore important that when planning strategies for dealing with challenging behaviour we ensure that they are just as individual as the triggers. No two people will respond in the same way to established strategies. Rather than attempting a ‘one size fits all’ approach you are showing an ability to adapt and respond.

This shows that you can identify and recognise each individual’s strengths, incorporate them into your planning and build on them. It tells the child or young person you are supporting that they have recognisable value and worth and that no matter how challenging their behaviour may be there is always something positive to build on.

Children have an inborn desire to please people and gain approval, if they don’t get this through the acknowledgement of positive behaviour they are more likely to use negative or challenging behaviour. By reinforcing positive behaviour you are encouraging children to seek attention as a result of appropriate rather than inappropriate behaviour. Focusing on negative behaviour will only trigger your own frustrations and aggression causing you to exhibit exactly the behaviour you are striving to stop. By focusing on reinforcing positive behaviour you are therefore modelling the kind of behaviour you feel is appropriate because you are calm, focused and feeling positive

If you use proactive strategies then you can stop the behaviour before it starts. Therefore the child feels calm and relaxed and everyone is happy. If reactive strategies are used then the behaviour has already happened and the child may be experiencing remorse, be ashamed, confused, humiliated about the incident/outburst. Whereas Proactive strategies identify triggers and early indicators that help to stop the behaviour before it starts, reactive strategies deal with the behaviour once it’s done.

If house rules or boundaries aren’t known then the child won’t know what is expected from them.

Cite this page

Proactive Strategies with behavioural problems. (2016, Aug 17). Retrieved from

Proactive Strategies with behavioural problems

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