Does your child have trouble behaving in the classroom? If so, that problem behavior could satisfy an unidentified need for your child.

A functional behavior assessment (FBA) can help figure out the cause of problem behaviors. A behavior intervention plan (BIP) is a plan that’s based on the FBA. A BIP can help to replace problem behaviors with more positive ones. Here’s what you need to know about behavior interventions and the BIP.

In this article:

  • Behavior intervention plans can help prevent behavior problems by addressing their cause.
  • An IEP or 504 plan should include strategies to help the child learn alternative behaviors to help him succeed.
  • Interventions can take many forms, including rewards for good behavior.

What Are Behavior Interventions?

Behavior interventions are steps teachers take to stop problem behaviors at school. First, the problem behavior must be identified. For example, your child may be:

  • Disrupting the class
  • Showing aggression toward the teacher or other children
  • Acting unresponsive or withdrawn
  • Refusing to do classroom work
  • Using inappropriate or harassing language

Your child’s teacher or IEP team can work to determine what purpose the problem behavior serves for your child. For example, there are many possible reasons why he throws a book in class. Maybe he can’t understand what’s being taught.

What does your child gain or avoid by misbehaving? Maybe he’s seeking attention from the teacher or other students. Kids often don’t know why they do what they do. By doing a functional behavior assessment (FBA), the IEP team or teachers and staff can determine the cause of the behavior. Then they can plan appropriate ways for your child to seek attention.

The FBA may involve interviewing your child, the teacher or other school staff. The teacher and other staff may also observe your child to pinpoint what triggers the problem behavior. Once the IEP team understands what function the behavior serves for your child, they can create a behavior intervention plan.

What Is a Behavior Intervention Plan?

A behavior intervention plan (BIP) is a plan that’s designed to teach and reward positive behaviors. This can help prevent or stop problem behaviors in school. The BIP is based on the results of the FBA.

The BIP describes the problem behavior, the reasons the behavior occurs and the intervention strategies that will address the problem behavior.

The IEP team might realize that your child lacks the skills needed to handle certain situations. For example, if your child has attention and impulsivity issues, he may not know how to respond appropriately when another child confronts him. Instead, he might become physically aggressive.

A BIP can help your child learn problem-solving skills and better ways to respond in that type of situation. The plan also explains who is responsible for helping with each aspect of the BIP. Here’s how that might read in a BIP:

  • The student will ask for breaks when needed.
  • The counselor will teach student self-calming activities.
  • The student will be removed from a group after one warning until he can show self-control.
  • The student will be rewarded with computer time if the teacher notices him working well in a group.
  • The teacher will de-emphasize competition in classroom.

What to Watch Out For

A child’s BIP should be monitored and adjusted as needed. A BIP doesn’t always work as planned. Two of the most common reasons are:

  • A mismatch between the intervention and the targeted behavior. Sometimes the IEP team assumes the misbehavior happens for one reason, but the real reason is something else completely.
  • A failure to monitor and adjust the rewards or reinforcement for appropriate behavior over time. What works at first might soon become “old hat” and need to be switched up.

Problem behavior can be triggered by things that are unrelated to children’s learning and attention issues. It can be caused by frustration with school, family issues or social pressure. Even the size of a classroom or nearby distractions can set off inappropriate behavior.

Don’t hesitate to speak up for your child and work with the school to develop a BIP. If your child has an IEP or 504 plan, these supports should be part of the plan.

Key Takeaways

  • A functional behavior assessment (FBA) is the first step to determine the real cause of a child’s problem behavior.
  • Work with your child’s IEP team or 504 plan coordinator to develop an effective behavior intervention plan (BIP).
  • The BIP needs to be monitored and adjusted over time.

This article is from was written by Geri Coleman Tucker, a freelance writer and editor and a former deputy managing editor for USA Today. is an excellent resource for information on learning and attention issues.