What is challenging behaviour?

The term challenging behaviour is used to describe a range of behaviours which can put the person displaying the behaviour or those around them at risk.

What is challenging behaviour?

The term challenging behaviour is used to describe a range of behaviours which can put the person displaying the behaviour or those around them at risk. This can be the risk of physical harm or risk of exclusion from various aspects of life such as school, work and relationships. It is behaviour that challenges parents, carers and teachers because it is of such intensity and usually not seen as socially acceptable.

Behaviours that challenge include but are not limited to:

What causes challenging behaviour?

All behaviour is a form of communication and there is a reason for all behaviour. Behaviour that challenges is a way to communicate unmet needs when an individual struggles to communicate their needs in other ways often due to factors such as anxiety, neglect, abuse, learning disabilities and conditions like dementia. Understanding the causes of challenging behaviour is the first step towards finding ways to support individuals and manage their behaviour.

There are numerous causes of behaviour that challenges, which are usually unique to each individual. Behaviour is influenced by a number of different factors including:





How to manage challenging behaviour

There are some general tips that can help when confronted with challenging behaviour:

Challenging behaviour strategies for schools

In a school environment challenging behaviour can be particularity disruptive and have a negative impact on a greater number of people so any response should be consistent and fair. The aim should be to notice the warning signals and to prevent escalation:

Challenging behaviour strategies for health and social care

It is important to have a good understanding of the individual’s needs. Work with families and other carers to build a picture of the individual’s background which can help with understanding the reasons behind challenging behaviour.

How to tackle challenging if prevention measures have been unsuccessful

Ways to defuse the situation:

Things that could exacerbate the situation:

Impact on family members and teachers

Behaviour that challenges can be very stressful as well as physically and emotionally demanding for those that are close to the individual. It is important to seek out support in order to talk to people in similar situations and share coping strategies. It is also necessary for the carer to take regular breaks for the sake of their health, although often it can be hard to delegate to others.

Further Information

Runway Training has recently added the CACHE Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Behaviour that Challenges to their distance learning courses. We work with a variety of employers across Kent to provide training to staff, often free of charge.

It is a fully funded qualification and has been designed to benefit those that work in education, health and social care. Click below for further information:


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