The PBIS World Book

Take Away Unstructured/Free Time

STOP! Controversial Intervention! Please read before implementing:

Why should I do it:

  • Children can respond well to losing unstructured or free time
  • Can help motivate children to follow expectations
  • It is a clear-cut experiential based intervention, hands on so to speak
  • Helps children see a logical connection between their behaviors and consequences
  • Allows children the opportunity to make choices about what will happen
  • Gives children power over outcomes
  • Forces children to take responsibility for their choices and actions

When should I do it:

  • Depending on the parent, you may consider sending a note home explaining that part of your behavior intervention system includes taking away unstructured or free time, etc.
  • Taking away unstructured or free time is a very flexible intervention and can be used as a part of your regular discipline system, like with card flips, or in addition to your discipline system and class rules
  • When a student exhibits behavior problems, does not follow directives, is disruptive, does not finish work on time, etc.
  • When students forget assignments and materials
  • When students bully or pick on others
  • When students talk back or are disrespectful
  • When a student cheats or lies
  • Etc.

How do I do it:

  • Use a calm and neutral tone in a matter-of-fact way
  • Give the student choices, for example:
    • Billy, you can either stop turning around and talking and complete your work, or you can sit in time out during recess, the choice is yours
  • Clearly state the unstructured or free time period to be taken away, when it will occur, and for what duration
  • Discuss briefly with the student what they will need to do differently next time to keep their unstructured or free time
  • Use this technique as a part of a systematic consequence system whereby all students understand the consequence, how and why they receive it, and how it is carried out