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.

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