Behavior Intervention and Positive Behavior Support


On this website, we use the term Positive Behavior Support (PBS) to describe the approach used to provide intensive individualized interventions to individual children with challenging behavior. We also refer to program-wide implementation of PBS (PW-PBS) or program-wide adoption of the Pyramid Model. PW-PBS is the expansion of this model to classrooms and programs. This section of the web site provides information and resources for the use of PBS in the design of effective interventions for individual children with persistent challenging behavior.

What is PBS?

PBS provides a process to understand and resolve the problem behavior of individuals or children that is based on values and empirical research. It offers an approach to develop an understanding of why the child engages in problem behavior and strategies to prevent the occurrence of problem behavior while teaching the child new skills. Positive behavior support offers a holistic approach that considers all factors that have an impact on a child and the child’s behavior. It can be used to address problem behaviors that range from aggression, tantrums, and property destruction to social withdrawal.

The Origins of PBS

In the early 1980’s, there were important advances in the design and application of interventions for challenging behavior. These advances were driven by research on innovations in approaches for behavior change and shifts in cultural values about the use of aversive and dehumanizing intervention practices with vulnerable populations. The non-aversive technology that emerged in the late 1980’s and early 1990s for addressing the challenging behaviors of individuals with severe disabilities was referred to as positive behavioral support (PBS). This approach included the use of functional assessment, antecedent manipulations, teaching strategies, and changes in reinforcement contingencies with a focus on achieving lifestyle changes as the outcome of intervention.


Over the last three decades there have been significant advancements in PBS in its use with diverse populations and with both individuals and within programs and systems.  Today, the term PBS is used to describe the implementation of a broad approach to provide the supports needed to achieve basic lifestyle goals while reducing the challenging behavior that might impede those goals.  PBS can be applied with individuals, within schools and school districts (i.e., school-wide PBS) and within early childhood programs (i.e., program-wide PBS).

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