Disadvantages of positive behavior support

6 Reasons Why PBIS is a Terrible Idea and Should be Discarded

I loathe PBIS even more than I loathe Accelerated Reader, and friends, that’s a high bar.

Why I think PBIS is a terrible idea

To be fair, it’s not just PBIS. It’s all of the same type of behavior management systems that use often elaborate systems to punish and reward behavior in the hopes that students will behave in a way desired by schools and teachers.

All of these systems are based on the ideas of B.F. Skinner who is credited with the idea of radical behaviorism. Skinner (who died in 1990 and so can’t defend himself) thought and taught that the only thing that really changed behavior was consequence: if something good happened after you did something, you’d do it more. If something bad happened, you’d do it less.

You may have heard this called the “carrot and stick” approach: reward behavior you want to see more of, and punish behavior you want to see less of. Sounds great. Except how it’s not.

Here are six reasons I think PBIS is a terrible idea, and what I say about PBIS applies to all similar programs. I’m an equal opportunity hater. I could come up with way more than six, but this is a core sample.

#1: It doesn’t work.

Let’s just get this one out there first. It actually doesn’t work. I’ve written about Dan Pink’s book Drive and Alfie Kohn’s Punished by Rewards that explore the many, many problems with this kind of motivational theory.

The bottom line: it doesn’t work.

  • It expects the unreasonable. It’s unreasonable to think that if adults simply handled the situations better, the kids would be perfect angels. Friends, this is simply not true. Not all behavior is a result of adult interaction or lack thereof. Skinner was criticized for basing his ideas on animals, and I’ve even seen a pretty well-known book about PBIS that compares this dynamic to dogs and how we shouldn’t blame dogs for their behavior, and instead we should blame the owners. I’m going to state the obvious: kids aren’t dogs. Kids are complex humans with much more cognitive ability than canines.
  • If I don’t care about your punishment or I don’t value your reward, what do you have? That would be nothing. My son’s 1st grade teacher had a PBIS system of colored bears that still makes me see red when I think about it. The damage that system did to him (and me) was lasting. He rejected her system, and we battled it all year.
  • If one teacher doesn’t do it, the whole system falls apart because it depends upon conformity. The PBIS website, which I refuse to link to, even says you shouldn’t do it if 80% of the staff doesn’t buy in. I’ve rarely seen a school where anyone actually asked teachers before they decided to do something like this, so I don’t know how you’d know you had buy in, but whatever.
  • Under these systems, the students who behave well would probably have behaved well anyway, and the worst behaved students often end up with the most rewards.

It will probably not surprise you to learn that PBIS was invented by the federal government and the PBIS website is run by none other than the Department of Education. Your tax dollars at work. I should probably stop right here because that should tell you pretty much everything to need to know.

#2: It’s disrespectful.

Skinner completely rejected the idea of free will. He believed that we only behaved the way we did because of the reinforcement we received. To me, acting as though students cannot be trusted to learn how behaving in certain ways makes it more pleasant to be at school is completely disrespectful to them.

It sends this message: You cannot be trusted to make good decisions and must be rewarded or punished over and over again. You will never “graduate” from this program. You’re lucky you have us here to reward and punish you, or we’d all descend into Lord of the Flies. You are my puppet, and you dance to the pull of your strings.

It’s insulting.

#3: It punishes good kids.

Our reticular activating systems are programmed to notice differences and discrepancies. Because of this, the idea that we’re going to “catch kids being good” means that teachers are far more likely to notice desired behavior in kids who usually don’t behave well than they are to notice it in the normally well-behaved.

This means that the “good” kids are far less likely to earn the rewards than “bad” kids who reform misbehavior, even temporarily.

I’ve personally witnessed kids deliberately setting up situations to get “caught” being good.

It’s not about behaving well; it’s about the reward. They’re not learning how to live in a community. They’re learning how to manipulate a system to get a reward.

That’s no system. Well it is, but it’s terrible.

Also, many gifted students reject the hypocrisy and inherent unfairness and may actually begin behaving less well than they otherwise would have in rebellion.

Ironically, this means they are more likely to get a reward when they do something “good.”

#4: It makes it harder on those who come after.

This may come as a shock to students at PBIS schools, but when I walk around in my daily life, no one offers me reward recess for doing the right thing.

If a student gets used to being rewarded for every little thing and not having consequences for misbehavior, their view of the world will be very, very skewed.

I actually think there is a connection between this idea and tip jars popping up in places like fast food restaurants where people seem to expect to be rewarded for simply doing their jobs.

If you reward something, you’d better plan to keep rewarding it because these reward systems are like potato chips: you can’t stop with just one.

#5: It puts teachers at the mercy of student behavior.

In many schools where PBIS is implemented, there are restrictions on how misbehavior is handled. The idea is that you try to ignore it and reward positive behavior.

Because of this, teachers are often not allowed to send a student to the office until certain conditions are reached (e.g., parents are called multiple times, you’ve tried positive reinforcement, etc.). That unecessarily hampers the ability of the teacher to intervene in often very serious situations and makes classrooms less safe.

It also makes PBIS look falsely successful. “Look how few referrals we’re getting!” (Teachers aren’t allowed to write them.) “Look how few suspensions we’re giving!” (Even egregious behavior goes unaddressed.)

One example on the PBIS site encourages teachers to say things like, “If we can make it through this discussion without inappropriate language, you can listen to music during your independent work time at the end of class.”

I’ve also heard these kinds of statements: “Well, we were going to do this cool activity, but I guess we won’t since you guys won’t/didn’t/can’t fill-in-the-blank.

Are you kidding me? I am the teacher. I decide when we do what, and I am not controlled by the behavior or misbehavior of students. (See also #7 below.)

Additionally, we shouldn’t need to praise kids for behaving in ways they already knew they should behave. That is false and hollow praise.

One example of good implementation on the PBIS website is that if a student isn’t using lab equipment correctly who already knew how, you stop, remind them how to use it correctly, and then praise them for using it correctly.

I think you can tell how I feel about that.

#6: It’s coercive and manipulative.

PBIS recommends comments like, “I like the way Aisha is sitting.”

Theoretically, the other students are supposed to A) care about what the teacher likes, and B) want to be like Aisha.

The reality is that they now hate Aisha, and she is very likely to end up getting razzed by other students if this kind of thing happens often. Bullying is not off of the table, either.

Also, the other kids who were also sitting appropriately but who didn’t get singled out for this manipulative false praise are thinking, “Why didn’t he say anything about how I am sitting? I’m sitting nicely.” And next time, they just might not even care how they’re sitting because they know they won’t be noticed anyway.

Inherent in the praise of one student is the silent criticism of another. This sets up an unhealthy competitive environment that pits student against student.

It is poor practice to use the behavior of a peer to try to force the behavior of another. Think of it this way: In a family, we would all agree it’s a bad idea to say to one sibling, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?”

And yet, this is exactly what this dynamic is. It’s not healthy in homes, and it’s not healthy in schools.

PBIS is terrible.

I didn’t even mention how fake it can feel, how often kids don’t even care about the rewards, how much time it wastes, and how it often results in group punishment/reward.

Some may be wondering what I suggest you do instead. Well, frankly, just about anything. That sounds flippant, and I don’t mean it that way, but there are some basic practices that help:

  • consistency and clarity of expectation
  • building of true relationships
  • excellent parenting
  • real consequences for unacceptable behavior
  • recognition of the fact that children are still learning and growing

None of these are easy, and none of them is a panacea.

I know that it is likely that some with disagree with me, and I would invite those of you who do disagree to actually read some of the real research done on the danger of rewards and true motivational theory.

In the meantime, you get five minutes of reward recess for finishing the article.

You may also enjoy:

  • 3 Reasons I Loathe Accelerated Reader
  • How to Keep Gifted Kids Motivated

Note: Sometimes I use affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy something, I get a few pennies (to buy books!). It will never cost you anything extra.

Effects of Positive Behavior Support

Positive Behavior Support (PBS) is a system of behavior management strategies that are utilized to decrease problematic behavior by making changes in the individual’s skill set and environment. PBS also focuses on improving the quality of life of those with behavioral challenges and seeks to understand the reasons behind the concerning behaviors. According to the Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS), the most effective positive behavior support involves a combination of valued outcomes, behavioral and biomedical science, validated procedures, and a variety of system changes.


What the Experts Say About PBS

Previously, behavior modification systems focused singularly on the problem behavior and an immediate solution, with no regard to any other implications that the behavior change may bring about. However, effective positive behavior support strategies strive to increase an individual’s overall success, including personal satisfaction, positive social interactions, and improved quality of life. Furthermore, positive behavior support has improved in effectiveness as research has been done regarding behavior and the environment in which it occurs. In addition to exploring the role of behavioral interventions, PBS specialists have connected the significance of studying both the behavior and psychiatric state of individuals. More evidence is continuously being found that links both physiological and environmental factors to an individual’s behavior. The most effective positive behavior support interventions are multi-faceted and include considerations of various factors that may affect behavior. The procedures utilized to improve behavioral struggles include varying levels of intervention, as well as proven and validated strategies.

Why Does Positive Behavior Support Matter?

The primary goal of positive behavior support is to frame behaviors and expectations in a positive manner. It promotes good-decision making skills and a positive view of directions and expectations, as it leans more towards telling students what they can do and rewarding positive behavior, rather than telling them what they cannot do and punishing them for negative behavior. In any situation where it is used, positive behavior support matters a great deal when it comes to encouraging positive student behavior and promoting social, emotional, and academic success. It is not only about setting clear expectations and following through on the stated and standard consequences when expectations are broken, but it is also about implementing effective plans when a problem does arise and working to bring about appropriate and acceptable behaviors from everyone involved.

The Role of Positive Behavior Support in Schools

Many schools have baseline expectations that they set for their students, such as “be kind,” “be respectful,” and “make responsible decisions.” Then within each classroom, each teacher typically has his or her own set of rules and expectations that are more specific, such as “keep your hands to yourself,” and  “keep your eyes on your own paper.” When an entire school utilizes the exact same expectations and positive behavior support methods, students will understand that the behavioral standards are the same no matter where they are in the school or what teacher they are with. They will know exactly what to expect should they choose to misbehave, and teachers won’t have to worry about selecting consequences based on various students and their less-than-ideal behaviors. Consistency is key, particularly when it comes to children and your expectations of them, so implementing a school-wide or classroom-wide positive behavior support plan will help both you and your students understand what is expected of them and what will happen if those expectations are not met. This will result in better behavior, fewer instances of misbehavior, and an all-around better atmosphere that is more conducive to learning.

The Effects of Positive Behavior Support

Numerous studies have proven that effective implementation of Positive Behavior Support systems bring about substantial beneficial changes and a great deal of positive effects. The key, however, to achieving these favorable outcomes is consistently enforcing positive behavior support methods and ensuring that every adult involved in the execution of the methods is fully committed to it. When students sense or know that certain teachers are more relaxed about imposing consequences or that certain places or times may not require as strict adherence to the expectations, the systems will not work effectively and behavioral problems will arise.

  • Improved Behavior in Students – One study found that students involved in school-wide behavioral interventions were 33% less likely to receive office referrals based on behavior. Students are more likely to follow rules, stay within behavioral guidelines, and meet positive expectations for them when consistent positive behavior support is implemented in the school. Students are less likely to test boundaries, less likely to intentionally misbehave, and less likely to act out for attention when PBS is in effect. Students in schools with PBS systems have also proven to have lower levels of aggressive and disruptive behaviors than students in non-PBS schools.
  • Better Concentration in Students – Due to a lack of behavioral problems, whether with individual students or classes and schools as a whole, students who attend a school that focuses on PBS are less distracted and have an easier time concentrating. There are many reasons for improved concentration. The students in PBS environments tend to feel more cared for at school, so they have less of a need to act out for attention. They also want to better fit in with their peers, so they are more likely to go with the majority of well-behaving attitudes and actions of their classmates. Students who are less distracted with their own behavioral struggles or those of their peers tend to concentrate significantly better, leading to a better classroom environment and a more conducive learning environment, therefore ultimately leading to more student success.
  • Improved Social & Emotional Function – Students who participate in PBS programs learn how to better regulate their emotions, adjust to emotional situations, and work through situations rationally rather than based solely on emotions. Additionally, students in positive behavior support environments show more “prosocial behaviors,” meaning that they exhibit more actions that are intended to help others. Students show more empathy, understanding, and general kindness when they attend a school with consistent positive behavior support implementation, as well as show more sensitivity to modest intervention techniques so that extreme consequences and behavioral adjustment measures are rarely taken.
  • Better Quality of Life for Everyone Involved – When teachers, administrators, and parents come together to improve the behavior and quality of life of their students and their schools, great things happen. Students are more engaged and attentive in class, they learn and retain more important information, they grow personally and emotionally, they experience more positive social interactions, and they are more likely to achieve academic success both in their current school and in future educational endeavors. Here at TCI, we are passionate about educators everywhere helping their students succeed, and we encourage you to learn more about Positive Behavior Support and effective implementation techniques for you school.

why it pays to be a pessimist sometimes

If you are an incorrigible pessimist and can't switch to positive thinking, relax: optimism at the wrong time and in the "wrong amount" has many disadvantages.

Research shows that optimism is needed only in one case: in the treatment of a serious illness. Faith that everything will work out works wonders and helps save lives. As for other areas of life, not everything is as rosy as it seems.

Poor preparation for difficulties in work and study

People who hope only for the best are greatly disappointed when their hopes are suddenly dashed. Bad news doesn't make anyone happier, but unforeseen bad news is a special kind of "bummer" that can "unsettle" for a long time.

Let's say you passed an exam, the results of which depend on your entire future. You are sure that you did an excellent job with all the tasks, and expect a well-deserved five. Others are less optimistic and doubt the valuation. If you get your A, then take it for granted, unlike those who assumed the worst outcome of the case. If they get a B, then they will not be as paralyzed by this news as you are, and if they win, their feelings will certainly be more acute.


Optimistic people tend to be more motivated. But when it comes to taking preventive measures, it is pessimism, not optimism, that is the motivation. Less positive people care more about their health, see a doctor on time and can detect the onset of the disease at an early stage, when it is easily treatable.

Optimists tend to ignore even obvious ailments, hoping that "everything will resolve itself." This sometimes leads to a very sad outcome.
Moreover, people with an extreme degree of positivity may suffer from various risk manias, as they do not consider the possible negative consequences of their behavior.


For long-term relationships, a certain dose of "realism" is always better, and not continuous unbridled optimism. Young lovers see their partners in a positive light. Those who realistically evaluate the positive and negative qualities of a loved one provide him with better support in the future and divorce less.

Positivity is especially insidious in doubtful relationships. It can cause great disappointment and cause mental trauma.

True friendship is also based on support, not on having fun. If you try to convince your friend that everything is in order, when in fact everything is bad with him, then he will suspect you of misunderstanding and indifference.

For minor problems, an optimistic approach can be helpful, but in most cases, "don't worry" calls are just annoying. Psychologist June Gruber, a leading expert on the dangers of positive thinking, notes that all studies involving optimists have shown low levels of empathy and an inability to correctly recognize other people's feelings. This impairs social interaction and damages relationships.

The key to positive thinking is moderation and conformity to circumstances. Set aside positive thoughts for a while when you're waiting for important news, you're feeling strange symptoms in your body, or you're about to meet a friend who's grieving.

Sometimes a healthy dose of pessimism and preparedness for the worst has a surprisingly good effect on our lives.

Text: Flytothesky.ru

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Benefits of Positive Reinforcement - Child Development

Do you yell at your child a lot lately? Have you noticed that you are losing your temper, although you don’t want it at all? Are you trying to make positive changes in your parenting style and help your kids grow up to be good people? If you feel like you need to change something for the better, positive reinforcement can be a great help. This article will help you learn how to achieve the desired changes.

What is positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement is what you say or do at the same time as your child's action, i. e. at the moment he performs the desired action or immediately after it. The main thing is that in the child's mind these two moments are connected into one whole. Positive reinforcement directly increases the likelihood of a given (good) act in the future.

Positive reinforcement is one of the successful parenting techniques by which you can stimulate the type of behavior you want to instill in your child. Accordingly, when using positive reinforcement, it is forbidden in any form to yell at a child, insult him, threaten, punish, shame, humiliate or make him feel guilty.

How does positive reinforcement work on children?

For every behavior your child exhibits, there are both positive and negative approaches and their positive and negative consequences. If you react negatively to your child's behavior, they are more likely to repeat their mistake or behavior. On the other hand, if you respond positively to your child's behavior, he is more likely to want to do what you want, since it pleases you.

How to apply positive reinforcement to a child?

There are many ways you can give your child positive reinforcement. It is not always necessary to act in a certain way or say certain things. Often only one gesture or sign is enough for the child to understand what you mean:

  • Pat the child on the back.
  • Raise your thumb.
  • Show your child your approval by smiling or nodding your head.
  • Clap your hands for the child, cheer loudly for him.
  • Hug your baby often.
  • Clap your hand against the child's hand (high five).
  • Let the child know that you are delighted with him.
  • Tell others about times when you feel proud of your child. Do this in his presence so that the child also knows how proud you are of him.
  • Use specific phrases that tell your child that you appreciate his actions. Say "I love the way you...", "I'm proud of...", "I'm so proud of you!", "I'm so happy that you. ..", "It's wonderful.. .". Such phrases make it clear to the child that you approve of his behavior.

How does your child benefit from positive reinforcement?