Getting started with telehealth for early intervention: Learning modules

Interfering behavior

Children may engage in interfering behavior. Interfering behavior may interfere with your child’s learning, including safety to themselves and others. Interventions can help to reduce interfering behavior through problem solving and helping your child learn other ways to communicate. Overall these interventions should be aimed at improving your child's quality of life. 

Interfering behavior may include self-injurious behavior (such as hitting one’s head on the floor, or biting one’s self), aggression towards others (such as hitting or pushing others), elopement or running away from caregivers, property destruction (such throwing heavy or breakable items), or other forms of behaviors that are potentially unsafe or very disruptive to your child’s learning.

As children grow up, they often engage in some forms of interfering behavior. It does not mean that children are trying to misbehave or do something wrong. Interfering behavior may also be communicating that something else is wrong, such as your child feeling ill or being tired.

It is important to provide positive and proactive intervention to interfering behavior so that it does not persist or worsen. This is an area where the support of professionals will help to collect data and to create and help you to implement an individualized intervention plan. Intervention is often focused on supporting your child to develop new skills to communicate. 

Interfering behavior may indicate that there is a biological or physiological issue to attend to, such as a child experiencing pain from a dental issue or feeling ill. It is important to discuss interfering behavior with your child's healthcare providers. 

Interfering behavior can become a means for children to communicate in situations that they are not currently communicating. For example, a child may learn that when they are having their hair brushed by a parent and they bite their parent, that their parent stops brushing their hair. Therefore, the child continues to bite their parents when there are unpleasant tasks and routines to get them to stop.

Children may also become frustrated or upset when routines or things are unexpectedly changed or are unpredictable.