For those of us working with young people, even those who are medicated because of behavioural or medical conditions, Choice Theory can offer us:

1) A better understanding of what drives young people to behave in challenging ways

2) A way of separating the behaviour from the young person

3) A rationale for being creative and flexible in finding ways to show young people how to meet their needs in more positive ways.

Choice Theory can give us a way of understanding that challenging behaviour happens as a consequence of needs not being met. For example, if a young person has little control in their own life they may attempt to control situations by behaving in a way that makes them feel powerful. Choice Theory allows us to think about a young person’s motivations for challenging behaviour. It can also provide us with the knowledge that if we can better meet a young person’s needs, we have a chance to improve outcomes.


When you are ready, complete the activity below.

You will need to think about Glasser’s five needs and how they relate to the young people you work with in your professional context.