Individuals with challenging emotional and behavioural difficulties exhibit widely varied inappropriate behaviours or emotional responses to problems in the school environment.

Their responses are identified as challenging because they have a duration, frequency and intensity beyond the acceptable norm, are not in accordance with values and expectations, interfere with the individual’s own learning and/or the learning of others, can affect or cause harm to the individual, other individuals, staff and the environment, and do not respond to the usual range of interventions used by the school address behaviour. (Emerson, 1995, 2000)

Simply ignoring the challenging emotional and behaviour responses does not make it disappear and, in many cases, the responses become more extreme and firmly entrenched the longer they remain unaddressed. Without effective intervention, the long term consequences of challenging emotional and behavioural difficulties are as follows:

Consequences in childhood

  • Poorer family relationships
  • Lower levels of school achievement
  • Greater risk of school suspension/expulsion
  • Fewer qualifications
  • Social exclusion

Consequences in adulthood

  • Poorer relationships with partners and own children
  • Poorer physical and mental health
  • Higher mortality rates
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Links with offending behaviour
  • Criminal activity
  • Lower wages
  • Poorer employment prospects
  • Greater financial insecurity

(Burns, et al. 2008; Chapman et al. 2002; Owens 2004; Rumberger, 1987 and Vinson 2004).

A student with challenging emotional and behavioural difficulties can be categorised into one or more of the following conditions.
Please note in this version of Behaviour Zen the following conditions will be targeted:

Anxiety Disorder
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Conduct Disorder
Oppositional Defiant Disorder


Barnardos: Essex Burns, J.M., Collin, P., Blanchard. M., De-Freitas, N. & Lloyd, S. (2008). Preventing youth disengagement and promoting engagement. Report for the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.

Chapman, B., Weatherburn, D., Kapuscinski, C.A., Chilvers, M., &Roussel, S. (2002). Unemployment duration, schooling and property crime. (Discussion Paper 447). Australian National University, Centre for Economic Policy Research: Canberra.

Emerson, E. (1995). Challenging behaviour: Analysis and intervention in people with Intellectual Disabilities. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Emerson, E. (2001). Challenging behaviour: Analysis and intervention in people with Intellectual Disabilities. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Owens, J. (2004). A review of the social and non-market returns to education. Education and Learning Network: Wales.

Rumberger, R.W. (1987). High school dropouts: A review of issues and evidence. Review of Educational Research, 57, pp. 101-121.

Vinson, T. (2004). Community adversity and resilience: the distribution of social disadvantage in Victoria and New South Wales and the mediating role of social cohesion. The Ignatius Centre for Social Policy and Research, Jesuit Social Services, Melbourne.

Please note:

As you read the information if you have any concerns about your individual/s, please raise them with the individual’s caregiver/s. The caregiver can then decide whether to raise these concerns with their local doctor who can provide a referral to the appropriate professional (e.g. paediatrician, psychologist or psychiatrist) for diagnosis and treatment.