Challenging behaviour is a broad term that can describe a wide range of conduct which has the potential to cause physical, mental or emotional harm either to the individual or those around them. To respond appropriately, you need to be able to identify and classify challenging behaviour.
What is challenging behaviour?
There are many different types of challenging behaviour. Many people with autism, intellectual disabilities, mental illness or other complex needs react loudly, aggressively or inappropriately when stressed, creating a risk to themselves or others. This does not just mean physical harm. Challenging behaviour can damage relationships, lead to exclusion from school or work and may cause or exacerbate emotional distress.
Common categories include:
This may be any kind of vocalised expression that is inappropriate and upsetting, such as shouting, screaming, swearing or making threats.
This may include behaviour that is distracting, such as rocking and pacing, but also more serious conduct such as trying to ingest inedible objects, theft, or sexual inappropriateness.
Some of the most obviously risky challenging behaviours are physical, such as spitting, hitting, biting and throwing things. Hair pulling and head banging also belong in this category.
These behaviours often occur because of an unmet need that the person has no other way to express. Perhaps their clothing is uncomfortable, or they are too hot or cold. Maybe they feel ignored. It may be a sign of boredom. Sometimes they just do not know that the behaviour is potentially harmful.
Identifying the cause is vital to resolve the situation and prevent it from happening again, but in the short term, you may need to use some force to avoid immediate harm. A challenging behaviour course, like that given by a provider such as Tidal Training, can help you learn to recognise different challenging behaviours and respond in a way that keeps everyone safe.
Managing challenging behaviour requires patience and understanding. You need to pay close attention to the individual so you can identify the cause of their distress and where possible remove or resolve it.