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While it can be difficult not to react negatively to challenging behaviour – particularly if you feel upset or scared – it is better to look for the underlying message in order to reduce the behaviour in future.

A complex or challenging behaviour usually communicates:

  • an unmet need, g. emotional or physical discomfort
  • an expression of mood, such as sadness, anger or frustration
  • a response to stimulation, whether it is too little, e.g. boredom, or too much, e.g. a noisy crowd.

Boredom - a common message

Behaviour specialists report that the most common message behind challenging behaviours is ‘I’m bored’. A brain injury can result in unemployment, loss of friendships and difficulty forming new ones leading to social isolation. Some behaviours may simply be based on the principle of ‘any attention is good attention’. This can be a challenge for family members who find the caring role demanding. Often there is little time and energy left to find recreational activities for their loved one.

Other common messages behind behaviour

there are too many demands being put on me at once”

“this is an unfamiliar environment/activity and it’s disturbing me”

 “I’ve got sensory overload from too much noise/light/overcrowding”

 “I’m tired”

 “I haven’t got the social skills to cope with this situation”.