What is Behavior, Really?

BGCA’s Kate Endries is back on the ClubX Blog to share one of our newest resources, the Behavior Support Toolkit.

Do you ever struggle with how to respond to challenging behavior?  Do you find yourself searching for behavior management advice, training, and resources?  Do you wish your Club had a system so that all staff knew how to respond to behavior?  Well do I have the resource for you – the new Behavior Support Toolkit

But first, what is behavior?

Behavior is an observable action and form of communication.

  • Behavior is an action you can see or hear. For example, behavior could include things like words, facial expressions, tone, posture, and other body movements.
  • Behavior is rooted in culture. Our background, and how our parents/caregivers reacted to our behavior has shaped our ideas of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” behavior. For example, in some cultures making eye contact with adults is viewed as disrespectful, and others it is considered a sign of respect.
  • Behavior is communication. Youth and adults communicate the way they think, feel, and how they experience the environment through their behavior. For example, you may observe a youth walking away with their head down. These observable actions tell you that the youth may need support.

We don’t want to just react to behavior. We want to support youth by understanding and helping them to understand what they are communicating with their actions, and then use that information to adjust their environment and teach skills that support positive behavior.

We respond to youth behavior based on how we understand it.  The way we understand behavior impacts the way we feel about it, how we talk about it, and ultimately how we shape our expectations and responses.  The Behavior Support Toolkit will walk you through a process of assessing, planning and improving your current policies, practices, and programs that support youth behavior.  It will introduce you to new, user-friendly, downloadable resources, and connect you to some familiar ones on BGCA.net that all work together to create an environment that supports positive youth behavior.   

The toolkit is meant to be completed as a CQI (continuous quality improvement) process – prepare, assess, plan, do (repeat).  Here’s how you go through it: 

  1. First, visit the Prepare Page, where you will be grounded in the importance of prioritizing youth safety in this work, and introduced to some key definitions and ideas.   
  1. Then, move forward to the Assess Page, where you will take two assessments – a self-assessment, and an organizational assessment.   
  1. Next, move along to the Plan Page, where you will be guided in creating a behavior support policy. 
  1. And finally, finish up your journey on the Do Page, where you will find a wide variety of new and familiar resources that will help you to build a culture that supports youth behavior.   

The toolkit is most effective when completed as a full process and implemented at the organizational level.  However, if your organization has not yet taken on this process, you will find a lot of tools and resources – both for navigating challenging youth behavior, and creating environments that support positive behavior- that will work at the Club site level.  

Resources you can find in the Behavior Support Toolkit include:

  • Emotional Check-ins
  • Examples of Accommodations for Youth with Varying Abilities
  • 6 Steps to De-Escalating Behavior
  • Creating Simple Behavior Plans
  • The Restorative Roadmap

The site does not require a BGCA.net login, though some of the resources linked within may  be only available to Boys & Girls Club staff. 

To wrap it all up:

In 2021, we’ll be featuring more of the incredible resources found in the toolkit, as well as Boys & Girls Clubs who are using it. In the meantime, be sure to reach out if you have any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns. We are here to support you in WHATEVER you need!

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How do you support youth in understanding their behavior? Are you using the tools in the Behavioral Support Toolkit? We want to hear! Contact us by commenting below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org.

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