PAX Good Behavior Game

Program snapshot

Age group: Early childhood (0-6); Late childhood (7-11)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous

Topic: Aggressive/violent behaviours; Antisocial/deviant behaviours

Setting: Rural/remote area; Urban area; School-based

Location: Manitoba

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Primary crime prevention; Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The PAX Good Behavior Game (GBG) is an evidence-based, childhood mental health promotion strategy which combines the science from PeaceBuilders, Good Behavior Game, and other studies. Altogether, the GBG program teaches students self-regulation, self-control, and self-management while collaborating with others for peace, productivity, health, and happiness. The GBG is not a classroom management program per se or about consequences and control, yet it does make classrooms joyful again for learning.

The program is centered on conflict resolution; leadership and youth development; peer counselling and mediation; school-based strategies; skills training; and social emotional learning.


The main goals of the GBG program are to:

  • Improve aggressive or disruptive classroom behaviour and prevent later criminality;
  • Reduce a child’s externalizing behaviour while promoting prosocial behaviour by encouraging positive interactions with peers; and
  • Improve teachers’ ability to define tasks, set rules, and discipline students.


The appropriate clientele for the GBG program is children (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) between the ages of 5 and 11 years old. However, GBG is a universal program and can therefore be applied to general populations of early elementary school children. Although this is true, the most significant results have been found for children demonstrating early high-risk behaviours (disruptive or aggressive).

Participants are referred by their teachers and schools. To participate in the program, youth must attend a school that has implemented the GBG program in its classrooms.

Core Components

The GBG program consists of:

  • “Kernels”: Teachers apply “kernels” in the classroom in order to increase self-regulation and cooperation and decrease unwanted behaviours called “spleems”. With regards to the GBG program, “kernels” refer to transitional cues (PAX Quiet), written notes (Tootles) praising positive behaviour, use of a timer to decrease the time needed for task completion (Beat the Timer), random calling of students during lessons (PAX Stix), and rewards in the form of brief and fun activities that are normally not allowed in the classroom, such as tapping a pencil on the desk or throwing paper balls; and
  • Teamwork and rewards: After these kernels are integrated into classroom activities, the game is played in two to five teacher-selected heterogeneous teams that are changed on a regular basis. Each day, the game is announced and played three times. Initially, the game is played for only a few minutes at a time when the children are engaged in simple tasks. As students improve at the game, the game is played for longer periods and during different activities and times of day. During the game, the teacher identifies and counts each unwanted behaviour. At the end of the game, the teams with three or fewer infractions receive a reward. In addition to the three announced games, one unannounced game is played each day. Roles (e.g., captains) can be assigned to children on each team.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization must mobilize existing resources in order to meet the unique needs and demands of their students.
  • Partnerships: The success of the GBG program depends on its partnerships with schools, school boards, teachers, and parents.
  • Training and technical assistance: Teachers receive training and tools to teach students the skills needed to play the GBG game in teams within the classroom, for a few minutes a day, every day through the school year. This immediately improves the classroom environment by reducing disruptions and reclaiming instruction time for more effective and focused learning.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Promising
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Promising - One study
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: 3.1 - 3.2
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The GBG program has been implemented in over 200 schools from nearly every school division in Manitoba, including First Nation and independent schools (2011-2013).

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

An outcome evaluation study of the GBG program was conducted between 2011 and 2012 and once more between 2012 and 2013 by Healthy Child Manitoba. This evaluation involved 200 schools from nearly every school division in Manitoba. Half of the classrooms started using PAX in the 2011-12 school year and the other half started in the 2012-13 school year. A randomized controlled trial was used to determine which 100 of the 200 interested schools received the program in the first year of the pilot, and which 100 schools would wait to receive it in the next year, while first serving as a comparison group.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Grade 1 children who participated in the GBG program had significantly fewer conduct problems; had significantly fewer emotional problems; and showed significantly more prosocial behaviour; and
  • Vulnerable children who participated in the GBG program also had significantly fewer peer relationship problems compared to children in schools without the GBG program.

For more information, refer to the Healthy Child Manitoba’s (2014) publication.

Cost Information

The cost is not available in Canadian dollars. In the United States in 2011, the cost per youth involved in the GBG program was approximately $154 (USD) (Lee et al., 2012).


Healthy Child Manitoba. (2014). Manitoba Provincial Report – Improving the Early Mental Health and Well-being of Manitoba’s Children: First Findings from the Province wide Pilot and Evaluation of PAX.  Available from:

Lee, S., et al. (2012). Return on investment: Evidence-based options to improve statewide outcomes, April 2012. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy. Available from:  

For more information on this program, contact:

Healthy Child Manitoba
332 Bannatyne Avenue
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3A 0E2
Telephone: (204) 945-2266

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-05
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: