Behaviour Management


The Positive Relationships Standard
Regulation 11

The Protection of Children Standard

Regulation 19 – Behaviour Management and Discipline

Regulation 20 – Restraint and Deprivation of Liberty


Statement of Purpose

Children’s Guide

Dealing with Challenging and Violent Behaviour Procedure

Incidents Guidance


In February 2021, this guidance was reviewed throughout and updated to reflect the restorative way of working which is used in Leeds Children’s Homes. A new Section 5, Behaviour Management with Integrated Treatment Model (ITM)Homes was also added.


  1. Encouraging and Rewarding Children
  2. Minimum House Rules
  3. Managing Challenging Behaviour
  4. Sanctions
  5. Behaviour Management with Integrated Treatment Model (ITM)Homes

1. Encouraging and Rewarding Children

Whilst children bring their own values and behaviours to placements, staff in Children’s Homes play a key role in influencing children.

The culture of the home, generated by the staff, is crucial. Staff are expected to understand, manage and deal with young people's behaviour including encouraging children to take responsibility for their actions and help them to learn how to resolve conflict. A restrictive, unsupportive, discouraging and punishing culture will result in instability, hostility and possibly severe disruption.

The home should have clear, fair boundaries, where children feel safe, encouraged and appropriately rewarded, so that they will thrive and do well. Staff who adopt this approach will also experience less instability and disruption.

Reward, consequences and sanctions form a small part of the tools available to staff to support and encourage positive behaviour.

The Positive Relationship Standard (Reg 11.1) states that:

“Children are helped to develop, and benefit from relationships based on:

  1. Mutual trust and respect;
  2. An understanding about acceptable behaviour; and
  3. Positive responses to other children and adults."

Regulation 11.2 sets out the expectations on staff to support the social, emotional and behavioural needs of the children and young people whom we care for. For this policy the key issues include:

That staff:

  • Help children to develop socially aware behaviour;
  • Encourage each child to take responsibility for their behaviour, in accordance with their age and understanding;
  • Help each child to develop and practise skills to resolve conflicts positively and without harm to anyone;
  • Communicate to each child expectations about their behaviour and ensure that each child understands those expectations in accordance with their age and understanding;
  • Understand how children's previous experiences and present emotions can be communicated through behaviour;
  • Staff will be expected to undertake regulatory mandatory training provided by the workforce development team in terms of managing behaviour, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) and other relevant training within understanding children’s behaviours and development and how best to manage them;
  • Are provided with supervision (see Leeds Children's Social Work Services, Staff Supervision Procedure) and support to enable them to understand and manage their own feelings and responses to the behaviour and emotions of the children, and in turn help children to do the same;
  • De-escalate confrontations with or between children, or potentially violent behaviour by children (see Dealing with Challenging and Violent Behaviour Procedure);
  • Encourage each child to build and maintain positive relations with others.

2. Minimum House Rules

The Children’s Guide and Statement of Purpose should set out the homes ‘house rules’. These should be explained to children, with the reasons for the rules and they should also know that that there are rules for everyone. They should not feel that they are being treated with less regard than other members of the household. Ideally these expectations should be known to children before they are placed.

An example of house rules:

  1. No smoking;
  2. Keep own bedroom clean and tidy;
  3. Do not go into any other bedroom;
  4. Be appropriately dressed all the time;
  5. If you go out, return home at the time agreed with your carer
  6. If you want to change your plans when you are out ask permission from your carer first;
  7. Do not hurt others;
  8. Homework should be completed when set / due;
  9. If you have been suspended or excluded from school, school work shall be completed at home;
  10. When you use the bathroom or toilet always close the door;
  11. If you have any problems try and talk to the staff;
  12. Try to consider other people's feelings.

Remember - Within complex needs homes, any rules should be adapted to the individual’s level of understanding and communicated accordingly.

The children’s guide /Statement of Purpose (SOP) will contain pictures of reference along with current images of the inside and outside of the home. This will be given to the young person as part of their transition to the home, to support any anxieties they may have. Current carers would be expected to introduce these with support from the residential staff from the home. This process should be child led.

3. Managing Challenging Behaviour

Difficult or challenging behaviour in children can occur for a number of reasons, for example:

  • As a way of expressing emotions;
  • As a result of developmental delays or learning disability;
  • As a result of attachment/relationship difficulties with staff/carers;
  • Learned behaviours in which challenging responses have become habit in the face of frustration or anxiety.

Residential Practitioners should seek to understand the causes of a child's behaviour and provide them with help and support to manage their difficulties in a more acceptable way. It is unusual for challenging behaviour to be targeted at an individual because of dislike or any wish to harm them. Therefore, although it may seem personal at the time, this is not usually the case and the response to the incident should be calm and controlled.

When working with, or caring for, children with challenging behaviour it is useful to bear in mind the following principles:

  • The age and emotional maturity of the child;
  • That the aim of any positive behaviour management is to help the child learn how to behave more appropriately and not to punish or to purely keep the child under control;
  • Challenging or difficult behaviour should not result in emotional distance between the child and the staff;
  • No matter how difficult or challenging a child's behaviour, staff should never resort to similar behaviour;
  • The more staff are able to understand a child's behaviour and are able to meet their needs in a consistent manner the less likely they are to encounter difficulties with control;
  • • Regular child consultation meetings should be held. These allow an opportunity for all the staff team to discuss and agree how certain behaviours should be managed in a consistent way.

Children need clear boundaries and to know what is expected of them.

The key points of a positive behaviour approach are:

  • The ground rules are discussed with the child so that their views can be taken into account;
  • Staff should be honest about any non-negotiable issues;
  • Rules need to be realistic and ideally phrased as a "do" rather than a "do not". If "do not" predominates in your rules, consider what children are supposed to do if they are cross/angry for good reason, when your rules say they cannot, for example, shout, swear or hit out? Children need to be helped to express themselves and need to know what is acceptable for them to do when they are faced with a situation which will provoke unacceptable behaviour;
  • Children may need to be reminded from time to time of the expectations regarding their behaviour and of why we have rules.

A child may have disabilities that affect their behaviour, social skills and understanding and so require extra help to be able to behave within acceptable boundaries. Others may be faced with a variety of stresses that are difficult for them to manage without support.

It is imperative that we have realistic expectations of children according to their age and ability. Children with disabilities, however, are unlikely to benefit when adults fail to assist them to realise their potential to behave appropriately.

Staff need to be aware that children under pressure can have strong feelings of frustration, distress or anger. Adults can help children to behave in a more socially acceptable manner when they legitimise children's feelings. For example, acknowledging that a child's feelings are legitimate may help them to understand that their behaviour e.g. hitting out or swearing is not legitimate.

Some disabled children may resort to challenging or unpredictable behaviours due to difficulties in making themselves understood. It is important that such behaviour is seen in the context of the child's disability. Any behaviour plans to address these situations should use appropriate communication methods and any sanctions should be suitable and understood by the child. If there are known trigger factors which appear to impact on how the child/young person behaves then these should be recorded clearly in the Care Plan / individual management plan and every effort made to avoid such situations happening - information should be sought from relevant professionals who has worked with and knows the child well. The Care Plan/individual management plan should be reviewed on a regular basis or when a change in behaviour has occurred.

4. Sanctions

4.1 Guidance on use of Sanctions

Children should be informed about the range of sanctions that may be imposed upon them and the possible circumstances which may result in sanctions.

This information must be provided in a Children's Guide or outlined in the Placement Plan.

Before imposing sanctions, Residential Practitioners should do all they can to support and encourage children to do well. If children do not behave acceptably, strategies should be adopted that are encouraging and rewarding.

Rather than noticing and sanctioning misbehaviour it is always better to notice and reward good behaviour - or any step in the right direction. For example, it may be more effective to allow a child to have use of a games console or TV at bedtime for getting up on time; rather than taking the TV away for getting up late.

The former is discouraging and causes resentment; the latter is encouraging, can improve self-esteem and relationships between children and carers.

If children continue to behave in unacceptable ways, they should be reminded about what is expected and given further encouragement to get it right. If misbehaviour persists or is serious, effective use of reprimands can act as a disincentive or firm reminder. If this does not work, or may not, sanctions may be effective.

Where sanctions are used they must be reasonable and the minimum necessary to achieve the objective. Also, there should be a belief that the sanction will have the desired outcome - increasing the possibility that acceptable behaviour will follow. Any sanction must be restorative in principle.

Within our children’s homes and wider service we work in a restorative practice model. It is based on those in authority doing things with people, rather than to them or for them, helping people to find creative solutions to issues that are affecting them whilst avoiding blame, retribution and punishment. It can help to build a sense of community in all settings, from schools, children’s homes, police, social care, partnerships and communities.

We need to support children to become better equipped to solve their own problems and address the challenges they face. As a facilitator, so that more of what we do enables children to make positive changes themselves that ultimately make them stronger together and more resilient. Working in this way, doing things with children, young people rather than to them or for them, is a technique known as restorative practices.

If sanctions are imposed, carers should apply the following principles:
  1. Sanctions must be the exception, not the rule. A last resort;
  2. Sanctions must not be imposed as acts of revenge or retaliation;
  3. Think before imposing a sanction; don't apply it in the heat of the moment;
  4. Sanctions may only be imposed upon children for persistent or serious misbehaviour where reminders and reprimands have already failed or are likely to fail;
  5. Sanctions should only be used if there is a reasonable chance they will have the desired effect of making the point and in reducing or preventing further unacceptable behaviour;
  6. Before applying any sanction, make sure the child is aware that their behaviour is unacceptable and, if possible, warn them that sanctions will be applied if the unacceptable behaviour continues;
  7. It is the certainty not the severity of sanctions that is important;
  8. Sanctions should only last as long as they need to and allow the child the opportunity to make a fresh start as quickly as possible;
  9. Within some complex needs homes, sanctions may not be imposed due to the young person’s level of understanding.

4.2 Non Approved Sanctions

The following sanctions are non-approved, which means they may never be imposed upon children:

  1. Any form of corporal punishment; i.e. any intentional application of force as punishment, including slapping, punching, rough handling and throwing missiles;
  2. Any sanction relating to the consumption or deprivation of food or drink;
  3. Any restriction on a child's family time / contact with ther parents, relatives or friends; visits to the child by their parents, relatives or friends; a child's communications with any of the persons listed below*; or their access to any telephone helpline providing counselling or advice for children. (N.B. This does not prevent contact or communication being restricted in exceptional circumstances, where it is necessary to do so to protect the child or others - see Family Time /Contact with Parents/Carers/Siblings and Other Procedure);
  4. Any requirement that a child wear distinctive or inappropriate clothes;
  5. The use or withholding of medication or medical or dental treatment;
  6. The intentional deprivation of sleep;
  7. The modification of a child's behaviour through bribery or the use of threats;
  8. Any sanction used intentionally or unintentionally which may humiliate a child or could cause them to be ridiculed;
  9. The imposition of any fine or financial penalty, other than a requirement for the payment of a reasonable sum by way of reparation. (N.B. the Court may impose fines upon children which staff should encourage and support them to repay);
  10. Any intimate physical examination of a child;
  11. The withholding of aids/equipment needed by a disabled child;
  12. Any measure which involves a child in the imposition of any measure against any other child; or the sanction of a group of children for the behaviour of an individual child;
  13. Swearing at or the use of foul, demeaning or humiliating language or measures.

*The persons with whom the child may have contact, in relation to c. above, are:

  1. Any officer of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service appointed for the child;
  2. Any social worker for the time being assigned to the child by their placing authority;
  3. An Independent Visitor;
  4. Any person authorised by the Regulatory Authority e.g. Ofsted;
  5. Any person authorised by the local authority in whose area the children's home is situated;
  6. Any person authorised by the Secretary of State to conduct an inspection of the children's home and the children there.

4.3 Approved Sanctions

The following sanctions may be imposed upon children:

  1. Confiscation or withdrawal of a telephone or mobile phone in order to protect a child or another person from harm, injury or to protect property from being damaged;
  2. Restriction on sending or receiving letters or other correspondence (including the use of electronic or internet correspondence) in order to protect a child or another person from harm, injury or to protect property from being damaged;
  3. Reparation, involving the child doing something to put right the wrong they have done; e.g.: repairing damage or returning stolen property;
  4. Restitution, involving the child paying for all or part of damage caused or the replacement of misappropriated monies or goods;
  5. Curtailment of leisure activities, involving a child being prevented from participating in such activities;
  6. Additional chores, involving a child undertaking additional chores over and above those they would normally be expected to do;
  7. Early bedtimes, by up to half an hour or as agreed with the child's social worker;
  8. Removal of equipment, for example the use of a TV / games console;
  9. Loss of privileges, for example the withdrawal of the privilege of staying up late;
  10. Suspension of pocket money for short periods.

4.4 Monitoring and Recording Use of Sanctions

The Registered Children’s Homes Manager must monitor and review the use of sanctions and that the sanction used has been appropriate.

Sanctions should be an effective tool, and any review must take into account effectiveness of the sanction imposed, the Registered Children’s Homes Manager must ensure that if sanctions prove ineffective then other alternative methods are applied.

Sanctions must be noted in the Daily Log, Sanctions Record and individual child's Daily Record.

5. Behaviour Management with Integrated Treatment Model (ITM)Homes

In the ITM homes, a therapeutic approach of dialectical behaviour therapy is role modelled and implemented by staff to manage behaviour displayed by young people. We use elements of the program to manage and reinforce desired behaviours as well as to shape behaviours. For example, we use a token economy, this is to shape and reinforce skilful behaviour displayed by young people, which then can be used to exchange for objects they choose. Within the program we place young people within an egregious behaviour protocol zone for specific behaviours which are: violence and aggression, self-harm and absconding. In this zone they are encouraged to reflect over the behaviour they have displayed. This process is conducted with the young people through a behaviour chain analysis which is a tool that enables young people to identify why the behaviour occurred, exploring thoughts, feelings and emotions as well as identifying vulnerabilities, what caused the behaviour to occur, the long term and short term consequences and then exploring what alternative strategies are to be taught and role modelled for them to try if the situation occurs again.

The program has a significant emphasis on using validation as a method to manage behaviour, as this can de-escalate situations and allows young people to feel hear and understood, as we can validate their feelings, thoughts and emotions in their moment of crisis.