Challenging Behaviour around Challenging Behaviour

Deborah James*, Sue Fisher, Sharon Vincent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


The United Kingdom's Department for Education's advice on behaviour focuses on the power of staff and the strength of the policy in challenging behaviour, via rules, sanctions and rewards. We designed a video-feedback intervention for staff teams in a special educational setting who were working with children with intellectual disability and challenging behaviour. The intervention aimed to raise reflective capacity on relational mechanisms that offer new response possibilities in everyday practices within trans-disciplinary teams.

We conducted research with three teams (between five and seven participants in each). We report findings from two teams who were working with children (aged between 10 and 14) who staff identified as having behaviour that challenged. The intervention consisted of two video-feedback intervention sessions, using clips of good interactions between themselves and the child and a review. These sessions took place over three or four months. Qualitative analysis was conducted to analyse changes to the language and depictions of the children. Changes to the participants’ goals during the intervention were also analysed.

The staff's focus on the child's challenging behaviour reduced. Children who were originally depicted as isolated became depicted in relationship with peers and staff. Participants became more curious about the child and his interactions in the school and home environment. The participant's personal goals emerged through their understandings of what it meant to be good.

Working with staff teams using video feedback can change the interactions around the child and the relational conceptualisation of the child and family. Further adaptations to the intervention are needed to raise critical reflection on the concepts that circulate around ‘behaviour’ that structure policy and shape everyday practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1166-1179
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number4
Early online date23 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


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