Behavior is Communication

Bully, disruptive, unmotivated, and the list grows exponentially.  Many speculate and wonder about children described this way but those well-intended speculations are misguided.  Behavior is a form of communication and solution makers will focus on the function of behavior.


What needs aren’t being met? Building relationships is vital in establishing trust and working with the family to determine a student’s unmet needs. An unmet need can reveal sensory or emotional needs amongst many other possibilities.


Uncovering the function of a behavior can lead the path for developing an effective plan to help the student at home and school.  I have attended numerous meetings, as a teacher and parent, and discovered strategies can be used similarly within both environments. Parents don’t experience the same behaviors a teacher experiences at school and working as partners can help uncover potential needs and solutions.



  • What works in the home environment that could be adapted for school?
  • What is the function or underlying goal of the behavior?
  • How can the student’s behavior be redirected in a positive way?
  • What can be changed within the environment to encourage increased positive behaviors?
  • What can be done to empower and involve the student?
  • Focus on one or two behaviors at a time.
  • Be persistent and give it time for the plan to work.
  • There will be initial resistance in hopes but children frequently need time to see the positive payoff in change.


Remember behavior is communication but not always the easy answer we are assuming.


Written by Dawn B., Novastar Prep Coach


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