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Teaching Replacement Behaviors

 Role Play

Three Phase Approach:

I Do It. (Model/Instructional Phase)

We Do It. (Guided Practice)

You Do It. (Independent Practice)

I Do


Explain the steps and then model the correct way to complete the role play.

We Do


Practice the role play alongside the student.

You Do


The student demonstrates the role play independently.

It is crucial to reinforce the student after each step. Because you are teaching a brand new skill, the reinforcement will need to be frequent and consistent in the beginning. Keep in mind the following equation when using the role play intervention to teach a new behavior:

Social Stories

Social stories are effective in reducing problem behavior by teaching the replacement behavior in a visually appealing progression. It is best to focus only on one skill per social story so that the student is not confused and to review the social story on a daily basis. The social story provides a clear direction for the student on how to respond appropriately to the scenario with short, descriptive sentences combined with a picture or illustration. Social stories also improve self-awareness, self-calming, and self-management strategies when used to teach de-escalation and emotional regulation strategies.


Gerry’s problem behavior is noncompliance and disruption around transitions. The transition that he struggles with the most is lining up with the rest of his class prior to going into the hallway. His teacher creates a visual story so that he can read it daily to demonstrate how to line up appropriately.

VisualStep-by-Step Description of the Expectation
At school, when it is time to leave the classroom, I line up with my class at the door. I know it is time to line up when Mrs. Smith says “Class, line up by the door please.”
When Mrs. Smith tells us to line up, I know that means she first wants me to get up quietly from my seat.
Then I join the rest of my class by the door and line up behind the last person in line and keep my hands, feet and objects to myself.
I line up behind the last person in line so that I help keep the line orderly and everyone stays happy.
I can help my class get to where we need to go by following directions and lining up quietly.
My teacher will be so proud of me!

Video Modeling

Video Modeling teaches replacement behaviors by recording an individual completing the target behavior and the student imitating the behavior of the model in the video. The model in the video can either be the student or another individual but the video needs to be of the model demonstrating the replacement behavior successfully to completion so the student has an accurate example.  After the student watches the video of the targeted skill, they demonstrate the target behavior with the long-term goal of generalizing the skill into all settings. Video modeling can be used effectively to teach foundational skills such as imitation, play, and communication. It can also be used in a school setting to teach academic skills where students have learning deficits.

Video Self-Modeling Steps:

  1. Identify a skill or routine that you would like to target
  2. Identify and assemble the materials needed
  3. Complete a task analysis of the skill and routine and collect baseline
  4. Make a plan for filming the video
  5. Record the video
  6. Edit the video
  7. Show the video to the child
  8. Facilitate the skill development following the viewing of the video
  9. Monitor the students progress and problem solve as needed

Teach Specific Skills

Functional Communication

Teach how to access a communication device i.e. “go-talk” as a replacement behavior for aggression/meltdowns due to communication deficit.

Asking for Help
Teach how to ask for help with help cards as a replacement behavior for work avoidance due to skill deficit.

Teach how to ask for a break with break cards and break activity as a replacement behavior for escape due to lack of motivation.

Executive Functioning

Teach important life skills such as organization, task initiation, emotional regulation, impulse control, flexibility, self-awareness, problem solving and planning. These skills are crucial to cultivate a learning environment and eliminate any barriers for students so they can have full access to academic instruction.


How to Respond When Angry

Steps for Staying Calm

Appropriate Ways to Problem Solve

Interacting with Peers

Interactions with peers provide valuable learning opportunities for social skill development.


Conversation Skills teach students socially appropriate ways to converse with peers.

Taking Turns teaches students necessary social steps to appropriately take turns and share during play time, game time and free time activities.