Observe and reflect

Red head girl standing alone
Red haired girl standing alone by Matheus Bertelli licensed under CC0.

Overview and learning objectives

Chapter two focuses on supporting positive behaviour from a behavioural perspective. This chapter is organised into:

  • Behaviourism, behaviour theory and applied behaviour analysis
  • Positive behaviour support
  • Thinking functionally about disruptive student behaviour
  • The ABCs of behaviour – planning to intervene
  • A dual perspective

On successful completion of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Understand key elements of behaviourism, behaviour theory and applied behaviour analysis
  • Describe core features and principles of positive behaviour support
  • Think functionally about disruptive student behaviour
  • Explain the ABCs and their relationship to planning interventions
  • View disruptive behaviour through a trauma lens


Positive behaviour support is a proactive and preventative approach to reducing disruptive student behaviour. Applied to the school context it is a continuum of support and intervention that flows from least intensive strategies to most intensive strategies. The strategies employed are founded in and reflect the principles of applied behaviour analysis or a behaviourist perspective but is this alone enough for the child who has experienced trauma and is having difficulty with self-regulation? The current research says “No,” (Chafouleas, Johnson, Overstreet & Santos, 2016; Dorado, Martinez, McArthur & Leibovitz, 2016; Nash, Schlosser & Scarr, 2016; Phifer & Hull, 2016). In this book, we agree, and this is demonstrated in our interdisciplinary approach of providing a blended perspective drawing from psychology and education. Behaviourist strategies are highly effective, evidenced-based strategies that achieve excellent results, for most children. Children with trauma are not most children, they are our most troubled children many of whom will need a more comprehensive approach to support their success at school that combines the best of both worlds of psychology and education.


Chafouleas, S. M., Johnson, A. H., Overstreet, S., & Santos. (2016). Toward a blueprint for trauma-informed service delivery in schools. School Mental Health, 8, 144-162. doi: 10.1007/s12310-015-9166-8.

Dorado, J. S., Martinez, M., McArthur, L. E., & Leibovitz, T. (2016). Healthy environments and responses to trauma in schools (HEARTS): A whole school, multi-level, prevention and intervention program for creating trauma-informed, safe and
supportive schools. School Mental Health, 8, 163-176. doi: 10.1007/s12310-016-9177-0.

Nash, P., Schlosser, A., & Scarr, T. (2016). Teachers’ perceptions of disruptive behaviour in schools: a psychological perspective. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 21(2),167-180. doi: 10.1080/13632752.2015.1054670.

Phifer, L.W., & Hull, R. (2016). Helping students heal: Observations of trauma-informed practices in schools. School Mental Health, 8, 201-205. doi: 10.1007/s12310-016-9183-2.

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