Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Simple Changes to Improve Children's Behavior

Dealing with challenging behaviors is difficult! However, more often than not, we can make changes that will positively affect children’s behavior.

Consider the following excerpt:

“If a child doesn’t know how to read, we teach.

If a child doesn’t know how to swim, we teach.

If a child doesn’t know how to multiply, we teach.

If a child doesn’t know how to drive, we teach.

If a child doesn’t know how to behave, we….. …..teach? …..punish?

Why can’t we finish the last sentence as automatically as we do with the others?”

Below are some tips that can assist you in making challenging behavior manageable:

• Develop a list of classroom rules. Because everyone is expected to follow the rules, everyone should be involved in setting the rules, including children. Limit the number of rules to three or less. State the rules positively telling children what to do as opposed to what not to do.

• Limit your use of the word “no.” The word “no” quickly loses its effectiveness over time and should be reserved for emergency situations when safety is at stake. Instead focus on redirection and setting up a safe, child friendly environment where the word “no” will rarely need to be used.

• Provide children with a consistent schedule and routine. When children know what to expect, their anxiety is decreased. Plan for transitions by giving children verbal countdowns and providing picture schedules for visual learners. When changes to your routine are necessary, inform children ahead of time.

• Model, model, model! Read books and scripted stories promoting social/emotional development. Involve children in coming up with solutions to problems. Role-play problem solving with another staff member or even a puppet to engage children.

There are lots of great resources for social/emotional development from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) curriculum for you to utilize at:

Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri also has Early Childhood Specialists available for technical assistance and on-site consultation. You can contact Trinette Brewer by e-mail at, Barb Vigil at, or Lori Meisner at, or call us at (573) 445-5437 or (800) 243-9685.

Did You Know?

The U.S. Department of Labor has established law that applies to the time a child care staff member spends attending workshops/classes and whether/how they are paid for that time.

Workshop attendance that any state requires for staff, so that a facility can maintain child care licensing, must be counted as work time and compensated. In Missouri, the Section for Child Care Regulation requires that everyone counted in the child-to-staff ratio earns 12 hours of approved workshops or classes each year. The time that a staff member spends earning those required 12 clock hours is considered work time and she or he must be paid.

If the time of the workshop/class is included in a standard full-time work week as defined by the employer’s personnel policies, staff should be compensated at their usual salaries. If the time of the workshop/class is overtime beyond the standard work week, staff should be paid at the overtime rate consistent with the U.S. Department of Labor guidelines and established in the personnel policies.

Are there any exceptions?

There is only one exception to this requirement. If ALL four of the following items are true, then the training is not counted as work time:

The workshop/class occurs outside the normal scheduled hours of work AND

The individual’s attendance is completely voluntary AND

The workshop/class is not job-related AND

No other work is performed during the workshop/class period
For more information, contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-4-USWAGE or visit the Wage and Hour Division Website:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Taking a Bite out of Biting

Biting is a frustrating and painful behavior for parents and caregivers to manage. Between the ages of one and two (and sometimes longer), children use their mouths to explore and learn about the environment. They also have very limited verbal skills during this stage. As a result, biting may occur for several reasons: exploration, expressing emotions, and/or attention seeking. Some children may not bite at all, and others may be frequent and persistent biters.

Here are some suggestions for ways to minimize biting:

Look at your program's environment, schedule, routines, and expectations of children and staff. Try to minimize: congestion, confusion and disorder, children waiting, frustration, boredom, commotion, competition for toys and materials, and competition for adult attention.

Avoid large groups, and break the children up into smaller groups. Try to spread out activities to avoid children “bunching” up.

Look for ways to increase the promotion of the children’s sense of security and stability:

- Maintain a predictable schedule and ensure that children understand and anticipate the progression of the day.

- Ensure prime times with the child’s primary caregiver.

- Ensure warm, cozy, semi-secluded “safe places to be.”

- Avoid staffing changes. Develop and maintain individual and group rituals.

Look for ways to engage children more effectively in the environment:

- Analyze the developmental appropriateness of children’s choices.

- Provide duplicates of popular toys and multiple options for activities.

- Consider whether to increase the motor and sensory choices available.

Look for ways to calm children after periods of excitement, such as relaxed transitions, calming music, and calming physical contact with caregivers.

Analyze grouping of children to avoid combinations that might lead to conflict or biting. Avoid grouping “biters” and “victims” together. Also avoid grouping children who will compete for toys.

If you would like more information about biting or any other behavior issue, please contact one of the Inclusion Specialists at Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri at 800-243-9685.

Information obtained from: ExchangeEveryDay a free service of Exchange Magazine, January 6, 2006