Functions of Behavior

Functions of behavior: Why are they doing it!?


All of our behavior serves a purpose. For example, we may text or call our friends because we want to talk to them. We may go to work for monetary reasons. Whatever it may be, all behavior occurs for a reason, even for our kiddos. Sometimes it may be obvious why a behavior is occurring, other times it may not be. Watch the video below to learn more about the functions of behavior! 


Click here to watch the video!


Why do we want to know the function of the behavior? 

Once we figure out why a behavior is occurring, we can respond appropriately to our child’s behavior. This can help our child find more appropriate ways to meet their needs over certain maladaptive behaviors. 


What are the functions of behavior? 

Our child’s behavior may be to: 

  • Get something 
  1. Access to
    1. Item
  • Ex. iPad, toy etc
  1. Place 
  • Ex. park, kitchen etc 
  1. Attention 
  1. Person 
  • Ex. parent, friend 

3)  Sensory Stimulation 

  1. Additional stimulation for themselves 
  • Ex. looking at fans, spinning 


  • Get out of something
  1. Escape/Avoidance
  1. Demand 
  • Ex. chores, homework, putting on shoes 
  1. Situation 
  • Ex. grocery shopping, school
  1. Sensory  
  • Ex. bright lights, loud noises 


Try this! 

Now that you know more about the functions of behavior, try observing and taking note of your child’s behavior in a certain situation. Next time your child is engaging in a behavior, think about why they are doing it and how to respond. Good luck!



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