Behavior Management Interventions
Behavior management interventions aim to reduce problem behavior or increase desirable behavior by manipulating rewards and punishments. These interventions often focus on increasing impulse control, but also coping, rule-following, and goal-directed behavior. They promote self-regulation by reinforcing desirable behaviors and discouraging undesirable behaviors.
The specific mechanisms used by programs in this group vary, but many interventions used a system of incentives, disincentives, and behavioral contracting. Some programs incorporate “contracts” between youth and adults, specifying behavioral and other goals, as well as rewards and sanctions associated with those goals. Others use “token systems,” which provide rewards for specific behaviors or for completing tasks. These tokens can be exchanged for rewards, such as toys or snacks. Many programs use a combination of these and other elements, based upon the assessed needs of the youth participants.
Characteristics of behavior management interventions (24 studies contributed evidence):
- Interventions lasted 16 weeks, on average.
- Sessions typically took place five times a week or more in the majority of interventions (75%).
- Most interventions took place in the classroom (71%), while others took place in a separate space within the school (resource room or school counselor’s office; 29%).
- Two-thirds of the interventions were delivered in a one-on-one format (67%).
- Behavioral management through adult mentors: Early elementary students identified as being at risk for developing more serious emotional or behavior disorders participated in a mentoring intervention. Adult mentors checked in daily with students using praise, reminders, and verbal feedback; developed daily progress reports (DPR) alongside teachers to be signed by parents; held problem-solving sessions with students when goals were not met; and used DPR data to encourage students to meet their daily or weekly goals. Students were assigned to, and moved between, different levels of the intervention based on progress and need. Some were taught to self-monitor by completing their own DPR and comparing it to their teacher's DPR; others received additional tutoring or social skills instruction; and those struggling the most received additional targeted or multicomponent interventions based on student and teacher interviews and classroom observations.
- Daily report card: Intervention consultants worked with teachers to develop a daily report card (DRC) based on the student’s goals and behavior problems. The DRCs listed the student’s target behaviors and specific criteria for meeting behavioral goals. Teachers provided students with feedback on their behavior throughout the day and the DRCs were sent home nightly to keep parents informed of students’ behavior at school. The intervention consultants met monthly with the teachers to assess each student’s progress based on the DRC data. Consultants met with parents three times during the intervention to introduce the DRC, implement a home-based reward system, and develop a plan for homework completion.