Positive Behavior Management with Stuffed Animals

Positive Behavior Management with Stuffed Animals

My favorite positive behavior management strategy to use as an elementary school teacher. Read these simple steps to implement this strategy in your own classroom!

What are the Benefits of Using Positive Behavior Management?

Positive behavior management takes into account all factors that affect a child and his or her behavior. In student teaching, I learned that the behaviors you focus on are what will increase. If you want positive behaviors in your classroom, you need to encourage them when you see them in your students.

I love using Behavior Buddies in my classroom to do this! They are stuffed animals that reward good behavior. Each Behavior Buddy comes with its own set of expectations. Students who follow these expectations get to have an animal on their desk for the day. The kids never know who will be chosen, so they always need to be following the rules! My students are very motivated by these special friends and I know yours will be too!

How Do You Implement Positive Behavior Management?

One of the essential ingredients in successful classroom management strategies is student buy-in. You can pull the stuffed animals out of a box and tell the students all about them on the first day of school. I would recommend printing out the Behavior Buddies Posters beforehand so you can set clear expectations about how to earn each animal.

classroom management strategy for elementary teachers

The kids are going to be READY to have those buddies on their desks at this point! Now is the perfect time to create rules for caring for the buddies after a student earns them. I’ve found that if my students create the rules, they come up with what I would’ve said and some other great ideas. Creating their own rules gives them more ownership and leads to better care of each stuffed animal.


I would recommend starting with four Behavior Buddies at a time to start your positive behavior management system. I rotate each animal each day to a new student, but you need to do what works for you!

If you want help getting funding for stuffed animals, read this article.



Behavior Buddy Rules Created By Students:
  1. When you have the buddy on your desk for the day, it is yours. You can politely remind other students in the class this if they ask to take the stuffed animal away from you. Ask your teacher for help if you need to.
  2. Be happy for your friends who get the buddies, even if you don’t get one that day. Remember the buddies are always watching to see who to sit with the next day – they love good sports!
  3. The buddies love hugs, but they don’t like kisses.
  4. If you are distracted by your Behavior Buddy while you are working, you can give it to the teacher to keep on their desk until your work is done. Then you can get it back.
  5. The Behavior Buddies stay in the classroom. They don’t go to lunch or recess with the students.

Feel free to add or change any of the rules to create your own positive behavior support plan! These are just ideas to get you started.

classroom behavior management in elementary school


What This Classroom Management Strategy Looks Like for Teachers

Daily Tasks: Set the buddies on student’s desks either in the morning or before you leave school.

Monday: Plan who will be getting the buddies during the week and record it. This will make rotating much easier!

Friday: Take the behavior buddies home to wash them. I put them in the washing machine on a regular speed with a Tide Pod. Change the dryer setting to “no heat, air dry.” for about 20-30 minutes.



Positive Behavior Support Plan for SPED Students

It is important that your classroom management strategy includes all students. You can set each child up for success by meeting them at their level and encouraging improvement. A child doesn’t need to be perfect to be rewarded, celebrate progress!


What Should You do if You’re Struggling with Behavior?

An effective classroom management system has consequences for positive and negative actions. It is also important that you follow through with what you say! This doesn’t make you a mean teacher, it helps your students build trust in you. The most successful classroom systems have logical consequences for behavior.

What if the student stops showing the behavior they were rewarded for?

Create a plan with the student to help them show positive behavior again. Point to the behavior buddy on their desk to remind them of their plan as needed.


What are the Benefits of Using Behavior Buddies?

Behavior buddies has completely changed the entire vibe of my classroom. My students love to come in the classroom every morning and see who earned which behavior body and I have noticed a big shift in their attitudes. I was a little afraid that some of my students might be jealous or rude to other students, but just the opposite has happened. They congratulate each other for the animal that they have earned for the day and we talk about why that student earned that animal.


This is such an engaging and rewarding behavior management tool. Students love it and I love it as well. Our classroom behavior has completely changed!


Positive behavior management is a good way to maintain a safe, healthy and productive classroom environment. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

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