Early Childhood

Early Childhood PBIS

Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) in the context of early intervention, like PBIS in other contexts, is conceptualized best in the larger framework of prevention. The tiered model of prevention offers a hierarchy of prevention and intervention strategies with the intensity of the strategies geared to the level of perceived need. Fox and her colleagues (2003) described an application of a tiered prevention framework for young children. They presented the “teaching pyramid” as a continuum of supports and services designed to build social competence and prevent challenging behaviors for young children.

Early Childhood Teaching Pyramid for A Tiered Model of Prevention and Intervention

1. Tier 1 Supports
The Tier 1 supports of primary prevention consist of two major categories on the teaching pyramid. The first and, arguably, the most fundamental category concerns the quality of positive relationships developed between the child and the child’s parents, teachers, child care professionals, other caring adults and, eventually, peers. It is well understood that a child’s healthy social-emotional development is a function of the stability, security, and consistency of trusting, affectionate relationships that are developed during the child’s years as an infant and toddler. These relationships provide the context and the mold from which the child’s future relationships and interactions will emerge, and they serve as the basis for the early guidance and instruction that adults offer for the child. The stronger the positive relationship an adult has with a child, the more effective the adult will be in helping the child acquire social competencies.

Also warranting consideration as Tier 1 practices are basic levels of adult-child interactions, guidance and modeling with respect to empathy for others, assistance with problem solving, and the provision of comprehensible, predictable, and stimulating environments. These practices are manifested as fundamental guidelines for positive parenting, and the physical arrangements associated with safety and orderliness in home, child care, and classroom settings. It is understood that adherence to such guidelines for all children will help promote healthy social-emotional development and reduce the incidence of serious challenging behavior.

2. Tier 2 Supports
Tier 2 supports practices are geared for children who experience circumstances known to increase the risk of social-emotional disorders and the development of challenging behaviors. Such risk factors may include poverty, exposure to abusive, neglectful or violent home situations, delays or disabilities in learning or communication, maternal depression and other variables (Campbell, 1995; Huffman, Mehlinger, & Kerivan, 2000; Qi & Kaiser, 2003). A variety of parent training, social skills and social-emotional curricula, and multi-component intervention programs have been developed to provide assistance for these children. Joseph and Strain (2003) reported evaluation data for a number of social-emotional curriculum packages and found a high level of evidence for two of the programs (Walker et al., 1998; Webster-Stratton, 1990), with several others showing some promising, albeit limited, data.

3. Tier 3 Supports
The top level of the teaching pyramid refers to those relatively few young children who already demonstrate patterns of persistent challenging behavior and who require more concerted and individualized intervention efforts. The challenging behaviors of these children may accompany a developmental delay or disability (due to increased risk factors), though a diagnosis or identified disability is not necessarily present.

Campbell, S. B. (1995). Behavior problems in preschool children: A review of recent re-search. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 36, 113-149.

Fox, L., Dunlap, G., Hemmeter, M.L., Joseph, G.E., & Strain, P.S. (2003). The teaching pyramid: A model for supporting social competence and preventing challenging behavior in young children. Young Children, July 2003, 48-52.

Huffman, L. C., Mehlinger, S. L., & Kerivan, A. S. (2000). Risk factors for academic and behav-ioral problems at the beginning of school. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Mental Health.

Joseph, G. E. & Strain, P. S. (2003). Comprehensive evidence-based social-emotional curricula for young children: An analysis of efficacious adoption potential. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 23, 65-76.

Qi, C. H., & Kaiser, A. P. (2003). Behavior problems of preschool children from low-income families: Review of the literature. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 23, 188-216.

Walker, H. M., Kavanagh, K., Stiller, B., Golly, A., Severson, H. H., & Feil, E. G. (1998). First Step to Success: An Early Intervention Approach for Preventing School Anti-social Behavior.Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 6(2), 66-80.


The Pyramid Equity Project: Promoting Social Emotional Competence and Addressing Disproportionate Discipline in Early Childhood Programs

This fact sheet was developed to raise awareness of the issue of implicit bias and preschool suspensions/expulsions. The purpose is to provide information to change adult responses to challenging behaviors in order to reduce preschool suspensions/expulsions and create safe and nurturing environments for young children, particularly children of color.

Supporting Successful Transition to Kindergarten: General Challenges and Specific Implications for Students with Problem Behavior

The purpose of this review is to present factors that impede and promote successful transition to kindergarten, with a focus on the specific needs of students with problem behavior. The review addresses competencies that teachers report are critical for success in kindergarten, traditional transition practices, and challenges in implementing transition practices. Suggestions are provided to begin to attend to some of the issues affecting successful transition for children with challenging behavior and include an overarching framework to better support transition practices and specific suggestions for appropriate supports.

Toward a technology of “nonaversive” behavior support

A book chapter in the book "Positive behavior support:  Critical articles on improving practice for individuals with severe disabilities."

Evidence-based practices for young children with and at risk for social-emotional or behavior problems

A book chapter in the book "Social and emotional health in early childhood: Building bridges between services and systems."

Prevention and Intervention with Young Children's Challenging Behavior: Perspectives Regarding Current Knowledge

Challenging behavior exhibited by young children is becoming recognized as a serious impediment to social-emotional development and a harbinger of severe maladjustment in school and adult life. Consequently, professionals and advocates from many disciplines have been seeking to define, elaborate, and improve on existing knowledge related to the prevention and resolution of young children's challenging behaviors. Of particular concern for the field of behavioral disorders is the lack of correspondence between what is known about effective practices and what practices young children with challenging behavior typically receive. To increase the likelihood that children receive the best of evidence-based practices, the current analysis was conducted to provide a concise synthesis and summary of the principal evidence pertaining to the presence and impact, prevention, and intervention of challenging behaviors in young children. A consensus building process involving review and synthesis was used to produce brief summary statements encapsulating core conclusions from the existing evidence. This article presents these statements along with descriptions of the strength of the supporting evidence. The discussion addresses directions and priorities for practice and future research.

Adding functional behavioral assessment to First Step to Success: A case study

First Step to Success is a manualized early intervention program with documented success in reducing the problem behavior of young children. Walker and colleagues (2005) are now engaged in analyses of variables that will increase the proportion of children for whom First Step is effective. A possible enhancement to the First Step to Success protocol is the use of functional behavioral assessment and individualized, function-based behavior support. The present analysis provides a case study with one 6-year-old student who received First Step to Success. Following the coaching phase of First Step, a reversal design was employed in which function-based features of behavior support were withdrawn and then re-implemented. Analysis of problem behavior and academic engagement data suggests that incorporation of function based features enhanced the impact of First Step to Success. Implications for modifications of the First Step protocol and future research are provided.

Assessment and Implementation of Positive Behavior Support in Preschools

There is increasing concern over the number of young children who exhibit challenging behaviors in early childhood settings. Comprehensive prevention models are needed to support teachers' management of challenging behaviors and to avert the development of such behaviors within at-risk populations. One approach utilizes a three-tier prevention model called positive behavior support (PBS). The present research first assessed one region's implementation of PBS in 15 early childhood settings and found that on average, few features of PBS (30.79%) were implemented. Next, the impact of PBS consultation on teachers' use of universal PBS practices and children's behavior was evaluated in a multiple baseline design across four classrooms. A functional relationship was established between PBS consultation and teachers' implementation of universal PBS practices, but overall low levels of problem behavior prevented assessment of the impact of these changes on child problem behavior. Implications for future applications of PBS to early childhood settings are discussed.

A not so good job with “Good Job”: A response to Kohn 2001

Comments on the article "Five Reasons to Stop Saying, 'Good Job'," by Kohn (2001). Involvement of the field of early intervention in the debate between proponents of behavioral teaching strategies and professionals against it; Argument that saying "good job" manipulates children in order to maximize adult convenience.

Behavior support strategies in early childhood settings: Teachers’ importance and feasibility ratings

The current study investigated early childhood professionals' opinions regarding the use of behavioral supports for children with challenging behavior. Participants included early childhood special education teachers, Title I teachers, speech and language pathologists, instructional aids and paraprofessionals, physical therapists, and school psychologists. Participants rated 24 behavioral support strategies on both their importance and their feasibility. Overall, results indicated that early childhood professionals rated the majority of the behavior support items in the mostly important range. Participants did not rate as many items as mostly feasible, and statistical analyses documented a significant difference between overall importance of the items and overall feasibility. Early childhood professionals' characteristics were analyzed to investigate whether groups differed in their perceptions of the importance and feasibility of the behavioral support items. Findings indicated that early childhood special education and Title I teachers rated the support items as more important than did paraprofessionals and instructional aids. Educational level also differentiated groups on importance ratings; professionals with either undergraduate degrees or graduate-level educational experiences rated items as more important than professionals with high school-level educations or some college. Years of teaching experience was not associated with ratings, and no teacher characteristic was associated with the feasibility of behavior supports. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Positive behavior support systems: Applying key features in preschool settings

The differences between positive behavior support (PBS) at the preschool level and at the elementary school level are discussed and a method is presented for implementing features of PBS in preschool programs.

A Synthesis of Knowledge Relevant to Pathways of Service Delivery for Young Children with or at Risk of Challenging Behavior

The serious consequences of challenging behaviors in young children have become an increasing concern of caregivers. Without intervention, the presence of challenging behaviors in young children is associated with unfavorable outcomes in school and later life. This paper describes a synthesis of the existing knowledge related to the processes of identification and access to services for children with challenging behaviors and their families. A variety of data sources were examined to extract findings relevant to national initiatives. Findings are presented as a description of the existing federal programs and funding streams that provide pathways to services and associated mandates relating to cross-system convergence, along with the limited empirical data related to their implementation, utilization, and effectiveness. Service pathways for identification and referral were found to be fragmented with less than complete implementation of many mandates, largely unaccompanied by utilization and evaluation data. These gaps are described and recommendations are offered to guide research for addressing the paucity of systems information for this important group of children.

Prevention and intervention for the challenging behaviors of toddlers and preschoolers

An early manifestation of atypical social-emotional development is the occurrence of challenging behaviors. While some challenging behaviors dissipate during and following the early years, others persist and even escalate, marking increasingly problematic developmental trajectories, school failure, and social maladjustment. Increasing attention has begun to focus on the early identification and prevention of challenging behaviors and on strategies for resolving such behaviors at their earliest appearance. In this article, the authors discuss what is known about challenging behaviors in the repertoires of toddlers and preschoolers, and present a model of prevention and intervention. Although research in this area is limited, there are encouraging signs that a coordinated adoption of validated practices could substantially reduce challenging behaviors and thereby enhance the social and emotional well-being of children in today's society.

Mental health services for young children

 A book chapter in the book 'Handbook of mental health services for children, adolescents, and families.'

The Teaching Pyramid: A Model for Supporting Social Competence and Preventing Challenging Behavior in Young Children

This article describes a framework for addressing the social and emotional development and challenging behaviors of young children. This pyramid framework includes four levels of practice to address the needs of all children, including children with persistent challenging behavior. An example is provided demonstrating how to implement this model in a preschool classroom.

Young children and challenging behavior: Issues and considerations for behavior support.

The critical importance of intervening early to promote the social and emotional development of young children is a recurring theme in several reports commissioned by national organizations and leaders (i.e., Child Mental Health Foundations and Agencies Network; National Research Council of the Institute of Medicine; U.S. Surgeon General). There is an increasing awareness that social-emotional difficulties and problem behaviors in young children are highly likely to continue in school. In addition, young children who show the most chronicity and stability of problem behavior are more likely to be members of families who experience marital distress, parental depression, and poverty. Young children in urban environments who have problem behavior are likely to also face challenges in health, poverty, and access to quality childcare and other services. In this article, the complexity of the urban context is described with a focus on the lives of young children and their families. The authors present a discussion of appropriate practices and research that provides a foundation for the development of effective early intervention programs for young children affected by environmental and developmental challenges. The emphasis of program recommendations is on comprehensiveness in the design of family-centered behavioral support options.

Early intervention, positive behavior support, and transition to school

This article describes positive behavior support as it is applied in the context of early intervention and as children progress into elementary school. Variables that contribute to effective interventions are discussed, as are issues that must be considered in order to construct optimally beneficial transitions for children with behavioral challenges.

Early intervention with families of young children with autism and problem behaviors

A book chapter from the book "Families and positive behavior support: Addressing problem behaviors in family contexts."

Person-centered Positive Behavior Support Plan Scoring Criteria and Checklist

This tool is used to review and score intensive person centered and positive behavior support plans. The critical features met are summarized and reported for training and evaluation purposes

Onsite Observation Form for PCP and PBS Plan Facilitation (2 parts)

This tool is used onsite to observe professionals facilitating PCP and PBS plan processes. The observer is assumed to be a highly trained specialist who can provide feedback using part 2 as a scoring criteria and part 1 for the documentation. In KIPBS training, professionals have mentors sign off to indicate completion.

Next Step Decision Checklist

This checklist should be used as a guide to determine whether your school meets the requirement for an effective school-wide PBS plan.

Sample Reinforcer Inventory

This is a checklist of possible reinforcement tools that could be used within the school.

Person-Centered Planning Presentation.

This is a power-point that introduces person-centered planning and how to do a PATH.

Person-centered Process Facilitator Tip Sheet

Provides quick tips to fill out a path.

Blank PATH Form

Blank PATH form to aid coach in person-centered planning.

Behavior Support Plan

Blank form to do a behavior support plan for an individual student after a functional assessment has been conducted.

Behavior Intervention Planning: Using the Functional Behavior Assessment Data

A CD-Rom based training tool that trains individuals to develop behavior intervention plans using the results of functional assessment.

Arizona Behavioral Initiative Lake Valley Video

An on-line video (real player format) in which an elementary school's personnel describe the impact of PBIS. To view the video click on the following link. http://abi.ed.asu.edu/basics/video.htm

Writing a Behavioral Intervention Plan Based on a Functional Assessment

This is a workbook format for anyone working with children who exhibit target behaviors. It takes the learner through ten days of data using an ABC data collection tool, uses competing pathways charts, and teaches how to look for the function of the behavior.

Characteristics of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders of Children and Youth. Sixth Edition

This book is designed as an introductory text on special education for children and youth with emotional and behavioral disorders. Part 1 addresses the problems in the definition of emotional and behavioral disorders, the prevalence of the disorders, the growth of the field of emotional and behavior disorders, and major current trends. Part 2 examines procedures and problems in assessing emotional and behavioral disorders, and includes information on the difficulties encountered in classifying disorders, and evaluating for eligibility and intervention. Part 3 examines the origins of disordered behavior, including biological, family, school, and cultural factors. Facets of disordered behavior are covered in Part 4, including information on attention and activity disorders; conduct disorders; delinquency, substance abuse, and early sexual activity; anxiety and related disorders; depression and suicidal behavior; and schizophrenia and pervasive developmental disorders. Part 5 contains an interpretation and application of all of the preceding material to teaching practices. A brief case description is included at the end of each chapter, accompanied by several study questions, to help readers apply the chapter content to real-life problems. Personal reflections from educators are also included at the close of each chapter.

Bridging the Communication Gap

The presentation slides describe 1) NYS PBIS expectations for developing partnership programs; provide an overview of partnership model, 2) NYC's strengths and resources, 3) setting a clear goal for partnership planning for NYC schools implementing PBIS, 4) approach to designing a comprehensive district program to meet specific goals, and 5) plan for implementation in NYC for next academic year 2005/2006.

Program-wide Positive Behavior Support for Young Children

The newsletter describes the key elements of PW-PBS and discuss some adaptations from SW-PBS that have been made in order to address the characteristics of young children and the settings in which they are served. We also discuss some directions that would benefit the further establishment of PW-PBS and, more generally, the entire enterprise of preventing challenging behaviors and promoting the desirable social-emotional development of young children.

1,3,3.5,5 and 10 day trainings in individual level PBS

This resource is no longer available.

Functional communication training with toddlers

This study was conducted to examine the effects of functional communication training when used by mothers to address the serious challenging behaviors of toddlers. Multiple baseline (across home routines) designs were used with two mother-child dyads. The data showed mothers used the procedures correctly and interventions produced reductions in the children's challenging behaviors and increases in their use of communicative replacement skills. Social validity data supported the clarity of the effects and indicated that the procedures were viewed by the mothers as feasible and as having acceptable contextual fit. Results are discussed in relation to the importance of resolving challenging behaviors early in a child's life, and the need for additional research on effective strategies that can be used by typical intervention agents in natural settings.

Supporting families of young children with autism

This article identifies characteristics and challenges encountered by families that include young children with autism. Emphasis is on three issues in providing needed support services: (1) enhancing family competence and confidence; (2) addressing support from a lifestyle perspective; and (3) arranging for stability and continuity in support relationships.

Early intervention and serious problem behaviors: A comprehensive approach

A book chapter in the book 'Positive Behavioral Support: Including People With Difficult Behavior in the Community.'

Consensus, engagement, and family involvement for young children with autism

After reviewing articles that discuss educational approaches for young children with autism, this article concludes that engagement is a critical feature, it is not clear that one approach is more effective than another, applied behavior analysis is a common foundation, and approaches may benefit from a more complete consideration of the family system.

An Experimental Evaluation of Positive Behavior Support in a Community Preschool Program

Athough positive behavior support (PBS) has been established as an effective approach for resolving the challenging behaviors of many populations, little research has evaluated PBS with children under the age of 4 years. In addition, few studies have considered the effectiveness of PBS delivered via consultation in typical childcare and preschool settings. This study was conducted to examine the effects of PBS implemented by typical classroom staff for two 3-year-old girls in a community-based preschool accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Within the context of A-B-A-B designs, the data indicated reductions in challenging behaviors and increases in engagement for both girls in two separate group contexts. Fidelity data indicated that some components of the PBS plans were implemented but others were not. The findings support the efficacy of PBS with young children in natural settings while raising questions for future research regarding the utilization and efficiency of PBS support plans.

A descriptive analysis of positive behavioral intervention research with young children with challenging behavior

The purpose of this study was to critically examine the positive approaches to behavioral intervention research and young children demonstrating challenging behavior. The authors conducted a comprehensive review of articles published between 1984 and 2003 across 23 peer-reviewed journals. Each article that met the criteria for inclusion in the study was scored on the following variables: disability type; age and gender of participants; availability of demographic data (e.g., race, socioeconomic status); intervention setting; dependent measures; intervention type; intervention agents; study design; and reporting of generalization data, treatment fidelity, and social validity measures. The results indicate an increasing trend of research using positive behavioral interventions with young children who demonstrate challenging behaviors. Most of the research has been conducted with children with disabilities between 3 and 6 years old. Primarily, teachers and family members have served as the intervention agents, implementing studies in special education classes and home settings, respectively. Most studies have employed single-subject design methodologies to examine multicomponent, instructional, or function-based interventions. The authors discuss areas for future research.