Elementary School, Middle School, Therapy Ideas

SLP Insight: My Four Behavior Management Profiles

This past school year, I realized that my students fit into one of the following categories. The category that they fall in usually indicates what behavior management style I use with them.

After this insight, I’ve really enjoyed modifying the reward systems I had in place, as well as the behavior management systems I used!

And just to be clear, this is definitely not the only variable I consider when coming up with behavior management systems. Other important variables include sensory needs, receptive language skills, history of trauma, anxiety, and other personality related factors. This is just a way to think to get you started!

I’d love to hear if your students are similar and if you have success from using the same methods as me!

“Yes” Kids

Yes kids are the kids that do pretty much everything that’s asked of them. They’re pretty motivated. Most of them probably love coming to speech.

What To Do: These students need to work on setting goals for themselves based on what is important to them. These students also need to work on self-advocacy! I set up systems to work on both of these things. For many of these students, I’ve also found that they do best with clear expectations and session to-do lists.

“Yes, but…” Kids

Yes, but… kids are the kids who are pretty compliant, they just need increased supports and structure. These students tend to respond pretty readily to typical, run-of-the-mill behavior management systems including external motivators. Many of them love earning stickers, for example.

What To Do: For these students, I use a ton of visuals. I always provide a to-do list with checkboxes for each session. I do similar activities week to week so they get used to a consistent routine. Some examples of other possible successful behavior management strategies for “Yes, but…” kids includes star/reward charts (e.g., I’m working for _____), sticker charts, visual schedules, behavior contingency maps, first/then boards, and break cards.

“Why?” Kids

Why kids are the kids that ask, “Why?” all the time. Shocking, right? Why kids will comply, but they need a good reason. They want to know why they are working on what they are. They want to know why they need to listen to you. They want to know why they can’t tell their classmate he/she smells… because it’s true, isn’t it?

What To Do: My “Why Kids” respond best to logic and reason. They do best when I explain, in clear terms, why things are the way they are. I give these students a lot of choice. I explain both options clearly, including any natural consequences that might result from their choice, and let them choose. For example, if a student if refusing to do their work, I might say something like, “I obviously cannot make you do this. If you don’t do this, we will have to make it up another time. And I’d probably feel pretty bummed because I know you can do it. If you do it right now, you’ll finish it quickly and I’m sure you’ll have time at the end of the session to relax for a bit.” This way, their options are clear and up to them. Another strategy that’s been helpful for my why kids is to use backwards chaining from long-term goals. Many of my why kids have future goals for themselves including joining the Army, being a manager, or going to college. Work with that! Ask them to identify a long-term goal and then work backwards. What are short-term goals they could set to get there? What are things they could start working on now to get there?

“No” Kids

No kids are, most of the time, the most difficult students when thinking about behavior management systems. These students LOVE refusal. They cannot be coaxed easily. They are often stubborn and strong-willed. They often “stand” when you say “sit”. They know what they want.

I love these students because they remind us all that we have power and choice. Life does not have to be lived in one way to be right and these students definitely remind us of our power to say “no”.

What To Do: For these students, “no” is their default. This can make putting demands on them especially difficult! I’ve had success framing things as a challenge. These are the students that respond well to “I bet you can’t…” or “I’d be so impressed if…” statements. I try to use really chill, low-pressure language and tone with these students as well. I’m NOT forcing them into anything. They have the right to say no. I make all of these things very clear from the get go. The biggest thing to do with your “no kids” is to give them power. Let them choose what you do during speech. Let them take their own data. Let them teach YOU something! Let go of the expectation that you need complete control over your sessions in order to make progress. Frequently say, “It’s a choice!” or “It’s your choice!”. The phrasing example in the “Why kids” section above often works with these students too. You can do it. 🙂

I hope that helps give you a new way to frame your systems for rewards and behavior! It definitely helped me think about my students in a new way! For all of my students, I emphasize collaborative problem solving and positivity. Speech is oftentimes the most positive, encouraging part of my students’ day!

{thanks for reading!}

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