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.


Topics in Early Childhood Special Education from SAGE


  • Peter J. Alter
  • Shelley Clarke
  • Maureen A. Conroy
  • Glen Dunlap