Function of Behavior/ Why is the child doing this behavior?

sibling behavior

Why? That is the question

If you can figure out WHY your child (or student in a classroom, for teachers) is doing what they are doing, you are much closer to figuring out how to solve the problem/intervene.

There are 3 basic functions for behavior (I know, shocking its so few, huh?!)
1. To Obtain/Get Something (or Get Attention)
2. To Escape/Avoid Something
3. For sensory input/stimulation

So look at what happens BEFORE the behavior (called the "Antecedent")
Then Look at what happens AFTER the behavior (called the "Consequence"- doesnt have to be negative or a punishment, in this case).

Here's an example:
Teacher says "Time for work". Child screams and throws himself on the floor. Teacher comes over and asks what's wrong and tries to talk child into doing work.
What do you think the function is?
Well it could be for (1.) Attention (from the teacher, even if the teacher is also going to punish the child), or for (2.) to escape work. Or is it (3.) the child enjoys making loud sounds? Hmm it might be a little bit of everything. (Some behaviors do hit all the above functions, and those are difficult!). So try different responses (whether changing the antecedent or the consequence) to see what happens.
So teacher says "Time for Work", Child screams and hits the floor. Teacher ignores. (Other children need to ignore too). Child then returns to work, or does another behavior (Okay then they want attention).
Teacher says "Time for work"; child screams, teacher sends the child out of the classroom to sit in the hallway, see the principal, etc. Child complies (and maybe even is happy about it). Likely reason is for Escape (child avoided work).

Another thing to consider is- is this behavior due to a skill deficit? For example can the child not do the work he is asked to do? Is it too difficult? Does he/she not understand? Does the child not have the skills (wasnt taught for example) to raise his/her hand and ask for help?
Teaching the replacement behavior (ask for a break or ask for help- for example) would be the best response.

To figure out number 3- the best test is to answer this question: If the child was completely alone, wasn't given any attention, and wasn't being given a demand (direction to follow), would the child do this behavior? If so, its likely for sensory stimulation.