Invitational Theory in positive behaviour management

The Role of Invitational Theory in Positive Behaviour Management

James Hourihan, Author

Invitational theory is a core value that we examine and teach as part of our positive behaviour management training. It is a holistic philosophy that focuses on the concept of invitation, which allows individuals to feel comfortable, encouraged, and respected. 

In this blog post, we will explore the five principles of Invitational Theory, how it relates to positive behaviour management, and how to apply them in your own practices.

An Introduction to Invitational Theory 

Invitational Theory, developed by William Purkey and Betty Siegel, emphasises the power of intentionally inviting individuals to reach their full potential. In essence, Invitational Theory suggests that people will behave positively when they feel positive. 

Therefore, it is imperative to create an environment that fosters growth, trust, safety, cooperation, and nurtures positive behaviour, which has been proven to have effective outcomes for students, residents and patients in education, social care and healthcare settings.

The Five Principles of Invitational Theory

  1. People: Invitational Theory acknowledges the inherent worth and dignity of an individual. By recognising each person’s strengths and abilities, behaviour management practices can be grounded in empathy and understanding. 
  1. Places: Invitational environments are characterised by comfort, safety, and accessibility. Thoughtful arrangement of furniture, stimulating materials, and visual cues can contribute to a welcoming atmosphere.
  1. Policies: Invitational Theory emphasises the importance of inclusive and fair policies that empower individuals, provide clear expectations, and offer opportunities for learning and success.
  1. Programmes: Invitational Theory encourages the development of programmes designed to meet the diverse needs and interests of individuals, promoting a sense of ownership and engagement. 
  1. Processes: Finally, Invitational Theory underlines the significance of open and respectful communication to encourage active participation through positive language, active listening, and effective feedback. 

The Link between Invitational Theory and Positive Behaviour Management

Invitational Theory and positive behaviour management are intrinsically linked, as both aim to empower individuals and establish an inclusive environment that supports social and emotional well-being. By embracing this framework, individuals are more inclined to exhibit responsible and respectful behaviours, while staff and administrators gain the skills and knowledge to effectively address and channel behaviour towards more positive outcomes. 

Applying Invitational Theory in Positive Behaviour Management 

Building on what we have discussed earlier, let’s explore some actionable strategies to put invitational theory into practice.

Create Inviting Spaces: The impact of our surroundings on our behaviour is profound. To create an inviting atmosphere, it’s essential to have clean, secure, and visually pleasing spaces. Incorporate natural light, comfortable furniture, and sensory elements that promote a feeling of belonging and unity. 

Utilising Positive Language: Instead of negative words that shames, labels, and criticises, Invitational Theory suggests using positive affirmations, such as “I appreciate you,” “Thank you,” or “I recognise how hard you are trying” to build self-esteem, while strengthening communication between individuals, their peers and employees.  

Building Positive Relationships: Our objective is to develop supportive and caring environments within organisations where everyone can flourish. By being approachable and demonstrating empathy, educators, health care staff and social workers can establish stronger relationships with the people they support, reducing the likelihood of disruptive behaviour and conflicts. 

Encouraging Involvement and Participation: Active involvement in decision-making processes and providing opportunities for participation are vital aspects of Invitational Theory. By including individuals in activities or projects that align with their interests and skills, we not only promote their autonomy but also improve their quality of life.

We Invite You To Join us 

At Timian Learning and Development, we collaborate with organisations in the UK and worldwide to cultivate working cultures that embrace respect, engagement, and personal growth through the implementation of Invitational Theory.

For more information about our comprehensive positive behaviour management training courses, call us today on 0800 987 4075. Alternatively, visit our website and fill out the form here to get started. Our friendly team is eager to assist you with any inquiries or requests you may have.

James Hourihan MSc Econ | FRSA | MIOD


Timian Learning and Development


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