Challenge-Ignore-Divert Copy

Challenge-Ignore-Divert is the single most effective tool we can use when dealing with extremely challenging behaviour. It can be used as a strategic tool but also as an effective way of dealing with explosive behaviour as and when it is occurring.

Challenge-Ignore-Divert is a 3-step cyclical process that can be continually replayed until the behaviour had de-escalated. It can be used to manage anything from offensive language to disruptive acts or physically threatening behaviour. CID is a useful acronym and easy to remember as a default for when you are facing challenging behaviour.


  • CID is a cyclical model, and can be replayed a number of times
  • It can be linked to your rules
  • Consequences can be introduced if the young person persists in the problem behaviour
  • Remember to keep it polite and keep it positive (tell them what you want them to do, rather than what you don’t)
  • Give the young person time to respond
  • Try not to back them into a corner – keep their options open
  • Make it about the activity and not about how they are making you feel.

Challenge-Ignore-Divert consists of three elements:


  1. Challenge – tell the young person what the behaviour is that is not acceptable. Remember don’t tell them what they can’t/ don’t do or what they need to stop doing – tell them what they can/should do or need to start doing.
  2. Ignore – if you do not get the response you want, do not keep telling the young person off. Give them time to reflect on what you’ve asked them to do before you continue to repeat yourself. Do not ignore the young person, but momentarily ignore the behaviour while you give them a chance to stop doing it..
  3. Divert – distract the young person from the behaviour by offering them a way out. This way, they can save face in front of others and can choose to stop misbehaving without feeling like you’ve ‘won’. If your first diversion fails, repeat the cycle and get creative with the next attempt to divert!
Some tips for Challenge-Ignore-Divert

1. Manage your own responses: make it appropriate, relevant and in control.

2. Talk to the young person privately: find time to talk to the young person alone or to one side.

3. Don’t label: separate the behaviour from the young person – give unconditional positive regard, providing the young person with genuineness, empathy and acceptance.

4. Focus on their actions: talk to them about what THEY did, not what everyone else did.

5. Look at their choices: identify the choices they made – the only things any of us can be responsible for are our own actions and reactions.

6. What else could they do? Help the young person think about what they could have done differently.

7. What will help? Discuss what could happen differently to help them make the right choice another time.

8. What happens next? Tell them the consequence of their choice of action.

9. Remind them what they can do: reinforce something positive they’ve done in the session or a previous session.

10. Show them they want to do it right: leave them with the knowledge that you believe they can do it differently next time – encourage young people to believe they behave well because they are capable and willing to do so, not because of the consequences.

Every time there is a breach of the rules, this model can be applied. We try to link it to our SHAPE rules system, which helps everyone to be clear about what has gone wrong and what needs to happen now.

Example 1:

“Lee, I need you to get down from there, I want to keep you safe and I can’t do that when you’re climbing on the furniture. Thank you. (IGNORING BEHAVIOUR FOR A MOMENT). Have a look at this magazine I told you about – It’s going to be really useful for the project.”

“Lee, when you get down we’ll decide on the design. (IGNORING THE BEHAVIOUR FOR A MOMENT). There are some great ideas here – we need you to help us choose. Thanks.”

“Lee, I’ve asked already to get down. When we go out on the bikes next lesson I need to know you can obey instructions safely. Show me how well you can do that please, by getting down and helping us with this project. Thank you.”


“Chris, I know you can get through a lesson without swearing”. (CHRIS CONTINUES TO SWEAR)

“Chris, just talk nicely to the other students please. Thank you.” (IGNORING CONTINUED SWEARING)

“Chris, can you help Tom with his Maths work please? – you’ve done so well so far and we need to keep going” (TRYING TO DIVERT BACK TO THE LESSON)

“Chris, can you help me give out the next worksheets please. Thank you. When we get to the end of this lesson we will get our reward and go play football.” (DIVERT TO SOMETHING NEW IF ORIGINAL DIVERT DOESN’T WORK WELL)