Adaptive behavior is behavior that enables a person (usually used in the context of children) to cope in their environment with greatest success and least conflict with others. This is a term used in the areas of psychology and special education. Adaptive behavior relates to everyday skills or tasks that the "average" person is able to complete, similar to the term life skills.
Nonconstructive or disruptive social or personal behaviors can sometimes be used to achieve a constructive outcome. For example, a constant repetitive action could be re-focused on something that creates or builds something. In other words, the behavior can be adapted to something else.
In contrast, maladaptive behavior is a type of behavior that is often used to reduce one's anxiety, but the result is dysfunctional and non-productive. For example, avoiding situations because you have unrealistic fears may initially reduce your anxiety, but it is non-productive in alleviating the actual problem in the long term. Maladaptive behavior is frequently used as an indicator of abnormality or mental dysfunction, since its assessment is relatively free from subjectivity. However, many behaviors considered moral can be maladaptive, such as dissent or abstinence.
Adaptive behavior reflects an individual’s social and practical competence to meet the demands of everyday living.
Behavioral patterns change throughout a person's development, life settings and social constructs, evolution of personal values, and the expectations of others. It is important to assess adaptive behavior in order to determine how well an individual functions in daily life: vocationally, socially and educationally.

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