Is your child struggling with their behavior at school? Maybe they’re having a hard time following the rules or getting along with others. This can be a tough place for parents to be.
Often, children with disabilities or special health care needs use their behavior to tell us something isn’t okay with them. But that doesn’t mean they know why they’re acting a certain way, especially for children who are younger or earlier in their development.
If your child is having a lot of meltdowns, disrupting class, being aggressive, refusing to do schoolwork or using very inappropriate language at school, and what you and the teacher have tried isn’t working, it’s probably time to look into a Behavior Intervention Plan or BIP, sometimes also called a Behavior Support Plan or BSP.
This page explains what a BIP is, how to work with the school to get one and how to stay involved in the process to ensure the BIP helps your child.
A BIP is a written plan designed to help children use more positive behaviors. It says how the adults in your child’s life, like parents, teachers, school staff and other caregivers, will support your child and teach them skills to solve problems and better ways to get their needs met at school. It can help a child replace problem behavior with positive behavior.
A good BIP focuses more on the rewards your child will get for positive behavior than on anything negative that might happen after a problem behavior. It should include information on what the teachers, school staff or other caregivers are expected to do––and what your child is expected to do.
A BIP might also give you ideas on how to make a behavior plan at home. We have stories from parents on creating a behavioral intervention plan at home and on using and understanding positive behavior support in everyday life.
Here are the steps to get a BIP:
The first step in developing a behavior support plan for your child is to figure out the cause of their problem behaviors:
An FBA identifies the purpose or “function” the behaviors serve. This means why the behavior is happening.
An FBA is usually done by someone the school hires who has a background in applied behavior analysis. This might be a psychologist or a behavior specialist. They will probably interview your child, the teacher, the school staff and you. They will try to identify triggers or causes for the behavior and any skills they think your child needs to learn or strengthen. It gives you and the school new information and ideas to help your child at school and maybe at home too.
Your child’s school should review the BIP often and change it if needed. After all, your child is always growing and changing; things that worked at first might not work later.
Different schools involve parents at different levels in the BIP process. They might only ask for your agreement for the FBA and to sign off on the BIP. Or they might ask you many questions about what your child’s behavior looks like at home.
You and your child have the right to ask questions and share your opinions about how the plan will work. After all, you are the biggest expert on your child and will probably have a lot of ideas.
If you need help working with your child’s school to get a BIP that is right for your child, call or email the TIER trainer at your regional education service center (ESC).
Learn more about ESCs and other government-funded organizations that can help your child and family on our Government-Funded Organizations page. If your child’s school doesn’t seem to be following the BIP, see our page on Your Child’s Right to a Public Education for ideas on what to do next.
Sometimes your child’s BIP isn’t working as well as everyone planned.
Reasons why a BIP might not be working:
If you think your child’s BIP isn’t working, it needs to be adjusted. You can talk to your child’s teacher or a school administrator and ask for a review meeting. You’re an important part of your child’s educational and behavior support team—and you and the school should work together through a BIP to help your child learn and have more positive experiences at school.