Focusing on Good Behaviour

We have all had challenging behaviours in our rooms or centres, but what is the best way to support these children? Sorry, but I am not about to give you the magical piece of advice we all wish we had. There is no one way to support every child. They are all individuals, they all have different needs and there are many methods and strategies to try. You just need to keep trying until you find the one that works for you.

One of them is focusing on good behaviour. Children who regularly express negative behaviour will often have to listen to educators talking to them about this behaviour. Asking them why they did it and explaining how they could respond better next time. However, are we making sure we are also connecting with these children when they have good behaviour? It can be exhausting, always responding to the negative and then when you finally get a break you can relax a little, right? But then those children are only receiving attention when they have negative behaviour, so it just encourages it more.

Think about the last time you got down on a child’s level, looked into their eyes and told them how proud you are of them. Can you remember their responding look? The beam in their eyes and the beautiful smile. It is just the most amazing thing.

Detail what it was that they did that made you feel so proud. It’s not just praise, it is feedback. Again, it is not a miracle solution, and they may start misbehaving as soon as you turn your back, but the more often they have these interactions with educators, the more likely they are going to be able to remember how it made them feel. It makes them feel good about themselves. It makes them feel worthy.

Of course, you still need to talk to children when they are not behaving in an appropriate way, but make a big deal out of the good moments. Celebrate them. Share them with families. I’m sure their parents would love some good news. Next time you see the child, remind them of what they did well and ask if they will do it again that day.

What are your opinions of focusing on good behaviour? Do you have any examples or other strategies to share? Comment below.

Superhero Play

Dressing up is a great way to explore identity, but I have heard that there are centres that do not approve of superhero play. It can encourage rough play and fighting.

However, when faced with a problem, should we ban it, pushing the problem aside? Or should we face that problem head on and find a solution? Putting a ban on something usually makes people want it more.

Superhero play is a great opportunity to teach the children about kindness, confidence and helping others. When children explore identities they can leave their own insecurities behind and become someone new. However, when a child starts to initiate rough play, use it as a teaching opportunity. Talk to the children about what they are doing. Get them to do their own risk assessments. Use problem solving and substitutions to support the children to make kinder choices.

One of the easiest ways to engage in superhero play is to have someone take on the role of the “bad guy” and then the superhero has to save the day. This type of play makes it really difficult to avoid rough play though. Explore the superhero the children are expressing interest in. What else do they do? Come up with “problems” that require emergency assistance and encourage team work. How are the superheroes going to save the day?!

What are your opinions about superhero play?

Giving Children a Choice

All our centres have rules that we need to follow, but there are times when the children test those rules or they don’t agree with them. Sometimes, they might be experiencing a strong emotion that prevents them from caring about the rules, or maybe they just want to be able to make their own decisions. Whatever the reason, it can be quite a challenge to stick by them.

There are ways to work with children though. Give them the power of choice by providing options. They get to pick which path they take.

For example, centres in Australia have sun smart policies. Children have to wear clothing that covers the shoulders. Even though every centre has the same policy, parents still bring their children in with singlets and spaghetti strap dresses. Children can still wear these items of clothing, but they need to wear something either over the top or underneath to ensure their shoulders are covered.

When a child desperately does not want to change their clothes or put on another item of clothing to cover their shoulders, they do not want to hear “but it’s the rules” or “you have to”. They already feel emotional, and being backed into a corner and having no options that they can easily see just makes them more distressed. It can be quite a battle to get them to follow the rule.

Or

You can give them a choice.

They can either put on clothing that covers their shoulders or they can stay under the veranda. They can still play under the veranda, we always offer experiences in the shade. However, if they decide they want to go to other parts of the yard, they will need different clothes.

Now, I admit, this does not always work. It is not a perfect strategy. It requires communication with all educators so they know what is going on and supervision to ensure that the child remains under the veranda. However, I have found that it works more often than not. The same strategy can be applied to other situations too.

What experiences have you had with the power of choice? Comment below.

Behaviour: Why?

Child behaviour is a big topic, but this post will specifically focus on why children express or develop certain behaviours. Keep in mind that each child is an individual and they all have their unique situations.

Behaviour is a form of communication. Young children do not always know how to express their feelings and do not have the words required to describe what is happening to them. They need support or a connection and they develop behaviours as a way of showing this.

Children can be highly observant and they sense stress and worry from their parents and care givers. Being in a regular, high stress environment can have an impact on children and they may also start to blame themselves for any arguments between other family members.

It’s not always easy to tell if a child’s family is suffering from stress. Recently separated parents may have difficulty supporting their children while handling all the changes in their lives, but two parent households can also experience high levels of stress. There could be illnesses, financial problems, disabilities, and many other reasons that create stress.

Behaviour can come from limited social understanding. Some children just don’t know how to engage with other children and this is where role modelling really becomes important. They also might not know how to play with certain resources so they become disruptive in their confusion.

Of course, there is also a child’s own feelings. Perhaps someone said something to them that upset them but they don’t know how to explain that. Maybe they want to play with someone but they don’t know how to start an interaction. Maybe they are hungry, thirsty, hot, cold or tired.

Diet can also play a role with behaviour. Lots of sugar can leave children feeling over energised and then they will crash later. Low nutrition will limit a child’s energy and thinking abilities.

I have found that behaviours can also arise during or straight after screen time. Some children become addicted to technology and believe they need to continue watching or playing. For more information on this, you can see my post on screen time.

There are many different reasons that children may express certain behaviours and it’s important to remember that it is their form of communication. Do not blame children for their behaviour. We need to support them by explaining and role modelling acceptable ways to express their feelings and needs.

The above information is not a complete list. What other reasons can explain child behaviour?

Calming a Class

So your children are running around the room, making a mess of the resources but not actually engaging in anything and making a lot of noise. You have toddlers sleeping in the room next door and you are starting to feel stressed and out of control.

Sound familiar?

What do you do?

This is one of my favourite strategies. Call the children to a group time and tell them they are going to play a game. Spread them around the room to lie down on their backs. You might want to give them pillows and I would recommend separating the children so they are not next to someone they usually play with.

Turn on some relaxing music and place a small block on each child’s head. Explain that the block has to stay on their head without touching it. Whoever lasts the longest without it falling off wins.

Except you don’t call them out when it does fall off. Let them put it back on. Comment on those who are doing a great job. If being competitive really works for your children, mention who you think is currently winning. You can even challenge them further by seeing who can take a deep breath without it falling off.

Once you feel as though they are starting to become restless, tell the children they can go back to the group time area if they have had enough. Don’t force them to stop if they aren’t ready. Read a book to the ones that come to the group.

I hope you find this strategy helpful!

What strategies do you have for calming down a class?