Posted in Behavior, Uncategorized

Crash Course on the Four Functions of Behavior

There is a purpose behind all behavior; sometimes the purpose is fairly obvious and other times it can be hard to tell why someone is behaving a certain way.  There are 4 general functions of behavior and they are Tangibles, Escape/Avoidance, Attention, and Sensory.  I have created a (very colorful!) informational handout that summarizes the four functions of behavior.  This can be very helpful for therapists, teachers, and parents.


Once you figure out the function of the behavior, you can then determine the best approach to decreasing the behavior.  For escape/avoidance, the intervention is to follow through no matter what. For tangibles, the intervention is to not give in (and probably use what they want as a reward later…).  For attention, you want to limit the attention you give for the negative behavior AND increase attention for positive behavior.  And for sensory behavior, you want to replace any socially inappropriate behaviors with ones that meet the needs of the kiddo but are more appropriate.

However, my recommendation is that you seek help from someone who has been trained in behavior therapy to assist in assessing the function behind a behavior and then making recommendations for what to do as a caregiver.  Why?  Because assessing this stuff can be fairly tricky!  It typically takes a lot of observation and data collection before you can be sure what the function of the behavior is.


Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 4.36.13 PM

You can find the file to print here.

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