How to Teach Replacement Behaviors: 5 Tips
how to teach replacement behaviors: 5 tips!

How to Teach Replacement Behaviors

Do you have any students in which certain problem behaviors are occurring in class? Is it a struggle to manage each day? Do you want to learn how to teach replacement behaviors to ease these daily problem behavior occurrences? Let's look at 5 tips for how to teach replacement behaviors to students.

how to teach replacement behaviors

What are Replacement Skills?

A replacement skill or behavior is the behavior that you WANT students to exhibit in place of the behavior you are trying to eliminate. For example, if every time a student leaves the cafeteria, they elope out of the building, you would want to teach them to replace this problem behavior with maybe running to class instead of out of the building or running to the gym if they need movement and are able to. Reinforcing the new replacement skill plays a HUGE part in this!

what are replacement skills

Tip 1: Identify the Behavior Problem that Needs to Be Replaced

First, when beginning the journey of teaching replacement behaviors, you must identify what kind of problem behavior is occurring. Is the student having an attention-seeking behavior, talking out too much in class, or using a repetitive behavior? Check out 4 different strategies to collect data based on what problem behavior is occurring. Read about 8 common challenging behaviors in Autism and remember that sometimes autistic students are using behavior as a form of communication! This can be different than a problem behavior.

identify the behavior problem

Tip 2: Make a Plan

Next, to understand how to teach replacement behaviors, the IEP team should decide how to handle the behavior. Will you ignore the attention seeking behavior? You might ignore an attention seeking behavior if you know that the student is doing it solely to gain attention. It is best to collect ABC data to understand when and why the problem behavior is occurring. Will you teach a new skill to replace this problem behavior? For example, could you teach a student to chew gum instead of splitting if they are looking for oral sensory input?

make a plan

Tip 3: Model the Replacement Behavior

Next, when teaching replacement behaviors, the teacher and staff MUST model how to do it. You must also realize that this change will NOT happen overnight. It may take a few weeks of practice and modeling the replacement skill in order for the student to understand what you want them to do. I like to think of this part the same way as creating a lesson plan. You will decide when and how to teach the replacement behavior (as the behavior occurs) and set aside time each day to practice.

model the replacement behavior

Tip 4: Allow Independent Practice

Obviously, you want the student to practice the replacement behavior. You will spend a lot of time at the beginning modeling the replacement skill and then you will want to give an opportunity to the student for independent practice. Sometimes I like to create pretend scenarios in which the problem behavior would typically occur and use those to practice the replacement behavior taught. The more we do this, the better chance of the student using the behavior we WANT them to when a real-life situation occurs.

provide positive reinforcement

Tip 5: Provide Positive Reinforcement

Finally, make sure you provide positive reinforcement every single time the child uses the replacement behavior. This is actually a form of shaping. If you aren't sure what shaping is or how to use it, check out this blog post. Positive reinforcement is NOT to be confused with bribery. Positive reinforcement helps increase compliance, motivation, and all the expected behaviors that we want with the student.

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I am a High School, self-contained Autism teacher from Central New York, who is passionate about individualizing student learning. I am a mommy of three, lover of all things Disney, married to my best friend and addicted to chocolate!! I hope that you find great ideas and inspiration here, so welcome!!

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