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How to limit challenging behaviours

Posted By  
13:00 PM

Asking for help and trusting others for advice is one of the hardest things to do - especially in a time of need, vulnerability, or stress. Many services and programs exist to help you find the right supports for your individual circumstances. For example, behavioural supports can be accessed through interpersonal relationships and daily living skills funding. Emotional regulation and parent coaching can assist developing functional daily living skills.

If you have a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan either for yourself or a loved one and you need support managing difficult behaviours, you are not alone. NDIS is a complicated new system and navigating through the specific details of a plan can be overwhelming and confusing.

Below are links to understanding the NDIS:

  • For commonly used NDIS terms and abbreviations:


WHAT ARE DIFFICULT BEHAVIOURS: Difficult or undesirable behaviours are a form of verbal or physical communication. By understanding the motivation of the behaviour, we can develop more helpful behaviour. We can help someone understand and communicate their needs through positive behavioural support strategies.

Here are some quick strategies to help manage difficult behaviours:

  • Respond in a way that clearly defines the behaviour as the problem rather than defining the person/child as the problem. For example, instead of saying “you are naughty and dangerous”, say “throwing things is dangerous and it could hurt someone”.
  • Be clear and specific about the behaviour you are encouraging the child/ person to learn. For example: “I can see that you are feeling angry by the way you are throwing things. Feeling angry is ok, but hurting others or ourselves is not ok. Instead of throwing things when you are angry, I want you to punch a pillow or throw a ball outside”.
  • Break down the desired behaviour into small practical steps with demonstrations. For example: “Everyone gets angry sometimes. Let’s practice these anger exercises together. I will go first, and you can watch how I let my anger out not just by hitting the pillow but also by making anger sounds and tightening my muscles. Now you have a go, it might feel silly but the more we practice the easier it will be”.
  • Reward the attempts at learning the new behaviour even if it results in going back to the difficult behaviour. For example: “I could see that you attempted to walk away before you started throwing things. You did a great job trying to control the anger. Next time, see if you can walk away and punch a pillow when you start to feel like throwing things”.

Please see the below link for more information positive behavioural support:,encourage%20or%20reward%20that%20behaviour.



  • If the person/child is significantly hurting themselves or others and you cannot defuse the situation call 000.
  • If you are concerned about the safety of your child and/or need immediate support call Lifeline 13 11 14.
  • Counselling for Children aged 18-25 - call Kids’ Helpline 1800 55 1800


SELF CARE: Never underestimate the power of self-care. Make time to do those enjoyable, relaxing activities you once did or would like to try. Self-care is simple but somehow, we all manage to neglect its importance, and we can forget how to care for ourselves.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • relaxation (bath, music, mindfulness breathing)
  • exercise (getting out in nature, yoga, a group sport)
  • express yourself (draw, paint, sing, dance, talk, dress up or get pampered).

Self-care is not selfish - it is essential to our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our loved ones. To take care of others, we must first and foremost take care of ourselves.

IMPORTANT: Behavioural strategies are more efficient when applied consistently through the expertise of a behavioural specialist or psychologist. It is essential to provide yourself with the appropriate ongoing support to assess individual and developmental factors over time.

Breakfree Psychology Services is a NDIS service provider with clinicians available via an online plat form. Therapy provided online has been shown to be as effective as in person and it is often the best option for vulnerable people. For information on how to refer to our service please visit:

Our friendly team welcomes you to contact us: