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How to Prepare a Behavior Management Plan for Teens
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Need to create an effective behavior management plan for teens? Learn the steps needed to develop a practical and effective plan.
This blog post highlights specific criteria needed to prepare a behavior management plan for high school students.
Working with teens to address behavioral issues constructively has been my focus for over two decades.
Whether that be as an educator or as a parent. I have been developing activities and strategies to help teens find better ways of dealing with conflict and coming to peaceful, responsible and collaborative resolutions.
An example of such a strategy is implementing a behavior management plan, wherein rules are established, and consequences are determined for any rule-breaking.
Behavior Management Plan
Sometimes teens experience behavioral problems, and teachers may need to develop a behavior management plan.
- A behavior management plan helps teachers, parents, and teens identify the behaviors that need to be addressed, set realistic goals, and determine possible solutions.
- A behavior management plan helps improve communication and promote positive teacher, parent, and peer relationships.
- A behavior management plan is an effective way to help students who are struggling with behavioral issues.
With a behavior management plan in place, teachers use it to help them in difficult situations.
Some behavior issues students face in school are bullying and violence.
Sadly, some students experience ongoing bullying and severe bullying leading to low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.
These issues significantly hinder students’ academic performance through lower grades, as well as their mental health, peer relationships, and social-emotional development.
Escalation of Youth Violence
Instances of students who report bullying or who are a victim of bullying have been noticeably increasing year over year.
The World Health Organization (2022) makes a connection between bullying and the escalation of youth violence around the world.
Youth violence is a problem that transcends borders and continents. It affects all of us, regardless of where we live or what our circumstances are. The leading cause of death for those aged 10-29 worldwide is homicide, with an estimated 200,000 cases each year. Youth homicide is the fourth leading cause of death globally, a significant problem facing young people today.World Health Organization
The effects of bullying are detrimental to a student’s mental and physical health.
Some of the risks associated with bullying include depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school.
Unfortunately, students who are both targets of bullying and engage in bullying behavior are at greater risk for developing mental health and behavior problems than students who only bully or are only bullied.
There are different types of bullying behavior, and students experience bullying in physical acts and online on social networking sites and instant messaging.
For example, a student may engage in behaviors to bully others, like name-calling at school or going online through electronic means on social media to mock photos or status updates in group chats, text messages, or online games.
These behaviors are extremely upsetting and embarrassing and affect students’ behaviors at school.
This is a list of different forms of bullying students experience:
- physical bullying
- aggressive behavior
- verbal bullying
- relational bullying
- derogatory comments
- social exclusion
- cyber bullying
- emotional bullying
- social bullying
- relational aggression
- racial bullying
- bullying about national origin
Youth Violence Statistics (2022)
This infographic highlights statistics (2022) about incidents of bullying and the relationship between bullying and the escalation of youth violence:
It is crucial to take measures to prevent bullying to protect the well-being of all students.
School officials can take immediate action by having a complaint process as a communication tool for students to report incidents of bullying.
An important thing to note is that schools with bullying prevention programs and emotional learning programs with school-related activities for different grade levels have a lower instance of reported bullying incidents.
Teachers play a critical role in bullying prevention and the behavior management of students by creating a safe space and inclusive environment in their classrooms so all students can thrive.
In addition, teachers are a significant influence on the development of students, so they must be comfortable addressing student behavior and creating behavior management plans when needed for interventions, so students succeed.
Behavior Management Plan Template
Teachers should create a behavior management plan that includes general information about the student and specific information about behaviors that need to change and how they will be addressed.
The more detailed a plan is, the more likely it will be helpful.
Collecting background information through assessments and interviews following an incident is essential to creating a behavior management plan.
Assessments that use interviews with students, teachers, and other adults with direct responsibility for the students are more reliable than those that rely only on the students’ opinions.
In addition, interviews with the student can help identify any underlying issues and what may have caused the incident.
Finally, the events that led up to the incident can give valuable insight into why the student acted out.
Developing a Behavior Management Plan
Developing a behavior management plan helps address behavioral problems in teens.
Most teens will exhibit behavioral problems at some point in their lives. Whether it’s due to stress, hormones, teenage angst, bullying, or a home life situation, a behavior management plan can help address these issues.
However, there are a few critical components to any effective behavior management plan.
A behavior management plan process includes steps to:
- identify the problem behaviors
- establishing clear and concise rules and expectations
- communicating consistent consequences for rule violations
Identifying Problematic Behaviors
It is essential to be specific when defining the behavior causing learning or discipline problems.
Specific details make it easier to communicate and measure the problem behavior. Conversely, if descriptions of behaviors are vague, it will be more challenging to determine appropriate interventions.
For example, a vague description of a student interrupting in class or having an outburst doesn’t provide enough information to measure the problem behaviors accurately.
Observing the student in different settings and during various activities is necessary to identify the specific characteristics of a student’s behavior accurately.
Interviews with other school staff and caregivers also provide valuable insights.
Assessments are vital in determining the contextual factors that contribute to student behavior.
By collecting information on when a student is most and least likely to be successful, we identify the specific conditions that influence their learning.
Teachers use this knowledge to create more effective educational plans and support systems.
The following are three examples of contextual factors contributing to student behavior:
- There is evidence to suggest the student cannot perform the expected skill. This is seen in their trying to avoid or escape the task. They likely lack the skills needed to complete the task. The goal of the behavior management plan is to engage the student to complete tasks for learning.
- Students who do not consistently perform specific tasks are often experiencing consequences that affect their performance. A situation referred to as a “performance deficit.” Students who perform a skill but don’t use it consistently will miss out on opportunities or face other challenges that impact their ability to succeed. The behavior management plan aims to create opportunities for the student to demonstrate consistency in performance.
- Teachers must consider the student’s motivation to learn, ability to follow instructions, and other areas. For example, a teen with ADHD might be very motivated in a music class but unable to stay focused in other classes. Teachers should consider how teens with ADHD learn and what motivates them. They may need to participate in activities that use their strengths. A behavior management plan aims to turn the teen’s weaknesses into strengths.
Considerations for Students with an ADHD Diagnosis
Teachers should be aware that students with an ADHD diagnosis may be in a negative cycle known as a “revolving door of diagnosis.”
This means teens are identified, diagnosed, and treated for ADHD. As a result, they attend special classes and receive services, but their symptoms continue to interfere with their functioning and learning.
To avoid this cycle, looking at the student’s overall functioning in school and other areas, not just behavior, is essential.
It is also essential to be aware of any other diagnosis or problems and to consider other explanations for symptoms (e.g., substance abuse, major depression).
How to Create a Behavior Management Plan
In developing a behavior management plan for teenagers, it is important to remember that teenagers have many motivations.
For example, they may be motivated by a need for safety, an interest in friends or popularity, achievement, or the desire to be helpful.
Therefore, these needs should be considered when developing a behavior management plan.
Step 1: Identify Problematic Behaviors
The first step to take when preparing a behavior management plan for students is to identify the behaviors that need to be changed.
Teachers do this by observing the student’s behavior, looking for patterns, and talking to any adults involved in their life.
Step 2: Develop Goals
Once the problematic behaviors have been identified, the next step is to develop goals for a behavior change.
These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
After setting goals, creating a plan of action is crucial to help the teenager reach these goals.
Step 3: Plan of Action
This plan should include methods teachers, parents, and caregivers will use to convey feedback, praise, and consequences.
Students need to know when they are doing well and when they are doing poorly to set goals for improvement.
Create an environment with open communication and collaboration, so the student works with new information safely.
Step 4: Communication
Finally, teachers should share this plan with the student and any involved adults.
Important factors to be included in the behavior management plan:
- The plan needs to be specific, include the necessary supports, and be attainable.
- The plan should be written and include specific steps for each measurable goal.
- The plan should also include what the parents or caregivers expect their teenager to do and how the adult will help the student achieve those steps.
Step 5: Measuring Student Progress
After the plan is developed, measuring the student’s progress is vital.
Progress should be evaluated at least once a week, but preferably daily.
Teachers assess this by simply charting and recording their behavior on a chart. It is essential to consider the student’s behavior and mood so teachers can adjust the goals and strategies accordingly.
Students must know exactly what the consequences of their actions are.
This way, teachers and caregivers are not just making threats they don’t intend to follow through on. It is crucial to ensure a transparent, specific process for disciplinary action.
In other words, this needs to be spelled out if certain behaviors will earn them a particular consequence. Knowing the consequences is an integral part of the process.
Finally, promote positive communication. One of the most important aspects of any behavior management plan is communication.
Teachers, parents, and students need to communicate openly and honestly about expectations and what needs to be done to meet those expectations.
Behavior Management Plan Example
The following blog post shares a behavior management plan example:
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Addressing Student Problem Behavior | LD OnLine. (n.d.). Www.ldonline.org. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from https://www.ldonline.org/ld-topics/ieps/addressing-student-problem-behavior
Coaching Teachers to Detect, Prevent, and Respond to Bullying Using Mixed Reality Simulation: An Efficacy Study in Middle Schools. (n.d.). National Institute of Justice. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from https://nij.ojp.gov/library/publications/coaching-teachers-detect-prevent-and-respond-bullying-using-mixed-reality
National Center for Educational Statistics. (2019, July). Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2017 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey [Review of Student Reports of Bullying. aces.ed.gov/pubs2019/20190504.pdf; School Crime Supplements. https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2019/2019054.pdf
Vojinovic, I. (2019, November 18). Walking away from the screen doesn’t work – Cyberbullying statistics 2019. DataProt. https://dataprot.net/statistics/cyberbullying-statistics/
World Health Organization. (2020, June 8). Youth violence. Who.int; World Health Organization: WHO. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/youth-violence