Flopping behaviour is defined as the sudden and abrupt action of deliberately going down. Flopping could look like suddenly sitting or falling on one’s knees or lying down on a surface and refusing to move.

Behaviour Help is a registered NDIS provider.

Small child lying on the ground

Defining flopping behaviour

Flopping behaviour is defined as the sudden and abrupt action of deliberately going down. Flopping could look like suddenly sitting or falling on one’s knees or lying down on a surface and refusing to move.

Flopping behaviour as a part of normal development

Almost all children have displayed flopping behaviour in the early stages of development (up to five years of age). For example, a child who gets refused a lollipop in the shop despite their requests may feel disappointed and fall to the ground and refuse to move. A child who is trying to build a train set but the magnets in between the trains keep pulling apart may out of frustration  lie down on the ground on their stomach with their face down with flailing arms and feet kicking. A child who is told they have to stop playing at the beach and need to go home may in anger sit down, scream and refuse to move.

When children mature and with adult guidance, they develop appropriate ways of communicating their needs, interacting with others, problem-solving, coping with their emotions and controlling their behaviours, which helps them outgrow the flopping behaviour.

Flopping behaviour of concern

Flopping behaviour in children of all ages becomes a concern when the following occur:

  • the frequency (i.e. how often a child exhibits flopping behaviour) becomes excessive,
  • the duration (i.e. how long each incident of the flopping behaviour lasts) becomes excessive,
  • the intensity (i.e. the strength of the flopping behaviour) escalates from minor behaviours into extreme behaviours, and
  • the flopping behaviour negatively impacts the child’s participation in activities, interaction with others, their day-to-day functioning and development.

Impact of flopping behaviour

When a child begins to persistently exhibit flopping behaviours, the climate of the context (e.g. childcare, preschool, kindergarten, school, disability support and youth service) can change dramatically. A considerable amount of time and energy can be spent on the child showing the flopping behaviour, which can have a deleterious effect on the quality of the educational experience for all children. Research consistently shows that managing behaviour is linked to staff experiencing high levels of stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction.


Ms Smith is having trouble with nine-year-old Frank, a child with Down syndrome in her class. When asked to move from one location to another he often flops. Ms Smith has observed this happens especially if he is asked to move from the playground back to class at the end of recess or lunch. He will often flop to the ground and lie on his stomach and refuse to stand up and go to his classroom. When Frank flops on the ground it can take up to 20 mins or longer to encourage him to get up and walk to class. Sometimes duty staff in the playground can encourage him to get up but most often it means that Ms Smith has to leave her classroom and the other children to guide Frank back to class. Even when he does start walking he may drop to the ground and the whole process of getting him to stand up and walk starts again. This term Ms Smith would like to start taking all the children on different weekly outings to help them practise travel training skills such as journey planning, getting about, behaving appropriately and staying safe. However, she is concerned about how Frank’s behaviour on these outings as these will be new and stressful situations that involve lots of transitions (arrive at school → walk to the classroom → walk to the bus stop → go on bus → get down from the bus → walk around the different shops in the shopping centre → have lunch → walk to the bus stop → go back to school).

Hence, flopping behaviour affects everyone involved and the child who is flopping requires necessary help to learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.

Positive behaviour support resources for flopping behaviour

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) focuses on evidence-based strategies and person-centred supports that address the needs of the individual and the underlying causes of behaviours of concern, to enhance the quality of life for both the individual and those that support them.

PBS recognises that there is no single cause for flopping behaviour. It is a complex behaviour that is a product of the interaction between multiple factors contributing to its development and persistence.

Flopping behaviour is like the tip of the iceberg so it is essential to look beneath the surface to work out the why before we can address the problem. Behaviour Help resources are at hand.


F for Flopping - Forms cover image

Download this free PDF guide

The forms contained in this pdf booklet are from the F for Flopping: Positive Behaviour Support guide that can be used as part of the process of developing a PBS plan.

Download F for Flopping - Forms

Which resources are right for you?


Based on the Taking CHARGE of Rainbow of Emotions Workbook this app helps children of all ages develop emotional regulation skills. The app guides the child to firstly, identify and express their emotion in appropriate ways. Then the child is guided to use emotional management tool/s from the CHARGE tool kit to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

The acronym CHARGE stands for the different categories of emotional management tools – Chat tools, Helpful thinking tools, Amusement tools, Relaxation tools, Good routine tools and Exercise tools.

Behaviour Help App - Using the evidence-based approach of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), the Behaviour Help web-based app allows people supporting individuals with emotional and behavioural difficulties to complete a Functional Behaviour Analysis and put together a comprehensive Behaviour Support Plan (BSP). The BSP can then be used by everyone interacting with the individual to manage and prevent challenging behaviours and ultimately improve their lives, and the lives of those who support them.


Use the practical tools (checklists, forms, and strategies) in F for Flopping: Positive Behaviour Support book to develop comprehensive PBS plans that can be used to support children of all ages consistently in all settings.

This invaluable guide is useful for parents, caregivers, educators in childcare, early childhood, primary and secondary schools, disability, mental health, allied health, and supervisory professionals.


Personalised and practical one to one help tailored specifically to your family.

Online Courses

Access these online courses anytime online to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotional regulation skills. Also learn to utilise the positive behaviour support framework to address anxiety, aggression, ADHD, ASD and ODD.

SEL Educational Videos

Minimise or eliminate the occurrence of challenging behaviours by teaching children of all ages appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, managing their emotions and behaviours.

The SEL curriculum uses video modelling to provide direct, explicit and systematic teaching of the various skills by discussing the importance of the skill, modelling the skill so the child learns what the skill looks like? sounds like? feels like? and learn the skill in staged situations that simulate real life scenarios.


Personalised and practical behaviour therapy tailored specifically to your family.


Webinars discuss a range of practical strategies to guide your child learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.


Attend our practical and interactive workshops to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotions, behaviours, social and communication skills in your learning environment.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

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