All About the Replacement Behavior

Now that you’ve created your behavior intervention plan, it’s time to put the teaching parts in place.

A replacement behavior is an appropriate behavior that takes the place of the interfering behavior.  When supporting interfering behaviors, a core component of the behavior intervention plan is to teach a replacement behavior.  The interfering behavior has been the child’s way of accessing what they want and what they don’t want.  Therefore, we cannot expect to change the child’s behavior without giving them a replacement behavior that achieves the same outcome.

When we want to decrease an interfering behavior, it is important to remember that we can’t just expect the person to stop that behavior without giving them something to do instead of that behavior.

A replacement behavior can be a new behavior or a behavior the child already performs.  The intent of the replacement behavior is to show that they can get what they want more effectively and efficiently.  Therefore, you must identify the function of the interfering behavior so you can choose a replacement behavior of equal or less effort.   It’s important that the replacement is also easy to perform.

Step 1. Define the interfering behavior.
It is important to know the function or purpose of the interfering behavior before determining a replacement behavior.

Sept 2. Determine which behavior replacement behavior to teach.

Once it has been determined that the interfering behavior is impacting the child’s ability to access learning, relationships, and the community, you can begin to identify a replacement behavior.   Here are tips for determining a replacement behavior:

  • Tip 1: Find the function.
  • Tip 2: Determine what the student should do instead of the behavior.

After you determine the replacement behavior you are going to teach, it is important to teach the student that the new behavior works just as well as the old behavior.

Let us help you create a positive plan of action. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and our services are outlined here. We encourage you to call us directly, toll-free, at (844) 263-1613 or email us at We are based in Elmhurst, Illinois.