T for Task Avoidance: Positive Behaviour Support

Some children will continually try to only partially complete or totally avoid the assigned task by using a range of behaviours such as:

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  • Actively refusing to follow directions (e.g. saying ‘No’, ‘I won’t’, or ‘You can’t make me’).
  • Acting bored (e.g. saying ‘This is dumb’ or rolling their eyes).
  • Spending excessive time looking for work or materials.
  • Stalling or dawdling.
  • Producing work that is poor quality (e.g. messy, carelessly done).
  • Not finishing work.
  • Making comments (e.g. saying ‘I don’t care’, ‘Why do I need to do this?’).
  • Walking away or leaving the room.
  • Shutting down or staring into space.
  • Rushing through the task and making careless mistakes.
  • Taking a long time to complete the task.
  • Asking for help when they’re capable of doing it themselves.
  • Asking others to carry out the activity or deal with it.

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

Telling a child to stop avoiding a task rarely works because we need to address the underlying reason.

Based on the evidence-based Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) approach this user-friendly guide, T for Task avoidance will help you step-by-step:

Work out why your child is exhibiting task avoidance (assess), How to respond when your child exhibits task avoidance (manage), and How to minimise or eliminate task avoidance behaviour (prevent).

Use the comprehensive checklists and tools provided to develop PBS plans that can be used to support children of all ages consistently in all contexts. This invaluable resource is useful for parents, caregivers, educators in childcare, early childhood, primary and secondary schools, disability, mental health, allied health and supervisory professionals.

Download Accompanying Forms Resource