Building a positive environment

Here we will discuss topics on how to create a calm, regulated classroom and home and how to proactively manage challenging behaviours. This includes proven systems of management, like the Zones of Regulation, in addition to more general methods, like positive reinforcement and body breaks. We will also take a look at some of the compounding factors of behaviour such as self-sabotage and sensory issues.

Many of these concepts transfer to home life, so as a parent or caregiver please browse the available topics to identify what can be successfully implemented at home to increase the likelihood of success in working with behaviour.

Classroom management techniques

Be proactive! Know your student!

Many children do not know what it looks like to be well behaved, to exhibit appropriate behaviour, to do their job and to understand expectations.

They must be shown, taught the very basics.  Structure and consistency is the key to running a smooth classroom.


Positive reinforcement

We cannot "do" or achieve when we fail to understand the process or the concept, the how, either as student or teacher. We are, as Jampolsky so eloquently said, "all students and teachers to each other."

In operant conditioning, positive reinforcement involves the addition of a reinforcing stimulus following a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. When a favorable outcome, event, or reward occurs after an action, that particular response or behavior will be strengthened.


Understanding behaviour plans/programming

Behaviour comes in many forms and it comes with a diverse array of root causes, which can be singular or multidimensional.  It is challenging, as successful programming must find a way to meet the needs of each root cause, yet be generalized enough to be effective in the classroom or home.

The foundation of behavioural training through programming lies not in teaching what 'not' to do but rather teaching what ‘to’ do and how to do it.


Understanding the Zones of regulation

Who are our students?

  • Most behaviour (trauma) students come to expect, accept and normalize that which the average person would find appalling.They often live in poverty.

  • They have lived through trauma and crises or it’s ongoing: violence, poverty, abandonment, loss, foster care, addictions, lack of nurturing…the list is long.

  • They have poor life modeling and lack social awareness and skill. Problem solving is most often a lagging skill.

  • They often lack guidance, modeling, bonding, love, self awareness and self acceptance.

  • They often have learning difficulties and are often behind due to behaviours, trauma, lacking of support and ongoing crises including poverty.


Regulating emotions

The better a child can self-regulate the better she can meet the challenge of mastering complex skills and concepts, to learn. Self-regulation can be defined as the ability to stay calmly focused and alert, which though involves self control it cannot be reduced to or limited to it.

"How well students do in school can be determined by how well they are able to self-regulate"

- Stuart Shanker


Creating independence

"A leaders job is not to do work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done and to succeed beyond what they thought possible." 

- Simon Sinek

In society now we are so set on protecting and hiding our children from adversity, challenge and failure that we fail to teach coping skills, adaptability and resilience. Resilience is becoming a lost skill.  


Learned helplessness is created through the desire to help and love.



Self-sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making

sure it doesn't happen." - Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby

A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go. Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted, "Where are you going?" and the man on the horse replied,

"I don't know! Ask the horse!"


This Zen tale represents how our students often feel. They have little power or control. We, as teachers, parents, and caregivers, are the horse. We are often left bewildered and frustrated with a challenging student who has come so far only to, suddenly, take three steps back.


Cognitive behavioural


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Functions Based Assessment (FBA) replacement behaviour intervention

Replacing behaviors - When planned ignoring does not work or is incompatible with student needs.


If we do not replace the negative “target” behaviour with an appropriate, positive behaviour that meets the same need/function and outcome sought through the negative behaviour, we cannot change the behaviour.


Body breaks for busy kids

School is very overwhelming for some students. A body breaking system can be very effective for a range of student behaviours from ODD to ASD. Many children, particularly those with ADHD behaviours or social/emotional behaviours, benefit from short movement breaks out of the classroom. This must be set-up to work for you in your unique situation.



sensory issues

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) happens because the brain has trouble, organizing information/input from the senses.

Children with sensory processing issues can be highly sensitive to sights, sounds, textures, flavours/oral texture, smells and other sensory input. This can make simple things like even a trip to a toy store or trying a new food an overwhelming experience for them.


Social skills

Teaching social skills to children struggling with behavioural issues and/or complex needs is highly advisable. Social skills work best when they are taught in conjunction with regulation skills such as, zones of regulation and/or mindfulness.  Building social skills into your every day teaching is the easiest approach. If you can work between home and school use consistent teaching and language you will have the best success.


Observation of


What is the purpose of observation?

Why is it so important in our work with behaviours?



  1. Defines the function of the behaviour so that it can be appropriately targeted for change or extinction.

  2. Defines how often the target behaviour/behaviours is occurring.

  3. Defines what triggers the behaviour – steps to intervention and proactive measures.

  4. Evaluates the effectiveness of any plan in place.

  5. Determines the significance of behavioural change – once a plan has been implemented.

  6. Can serve as a source of feedback – informs decision making.

  7. Gathers information for other collaborators such as a psychologist or social worker.


The calm space

Avoid the term “time out”. Refer to your area as the break space, calming space or peace corner as we are teaching to manage our emotions with calmness. Time out has negative connotations even to young children.

  • Find a spot in the classroom that is out of traffic flow but easily accessible.

  • Create a space that is unique to you and your students. It can look however you choose. It does not need to be expensive or elaborate.

  • Have a very clear and consistent set of rules around the use of the calming area. Go over them regularly.


Just for Parents

Behaviour management in the home:

What you believe about your child is what they will be. If you believe your child is strong, capable and confident to manage their life effectively, that is what they will be.


Our site is filled with tips and strategies that can be adapted for home or school. Reading the sections on Strategies to Use, Behaviour Insights and Solve will be very helpful to you.


That being said, what helps us as parents to prevent or reduce behaviour in our children?

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*The information provided on this site and in the purchasable plans are designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. It is not meant, nor should it be used, to diagnose and treat any disorder or condition.

For diagnosis please visit a medical professional. The creator is not responsible for the success or lack of success of the plans provided, as each case is individual. The creator is not liable for any damage or negative consequences resulting from said plans or information to either person or property. The plans on this site belong to and cannot be photocopied or used by anyone other than purchaser for any purpose without express permission from the creator. 

© Kerry Orchard 2018