You’ll find out soon enough why the toddler teacher, Mrs. Houston was covered in confetti the day she transitioned little Billy, who just turned 3, over to your preschool class. Kids grow up and they move on; so the makeup of early childhood classrooms will always change. Even if you have a handle on current behavior issues, all it takes is one rambunctious tyke to alter the dynamics of your class.
Occasionally, you’ll even get that one kid whose behavior is so challenging you’d be willing to pay his mom to quit work and keep him at home with her. Now that little Billy is going to spend the rest of the year with you, maybe Mrs. Houston can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Dealing with temper tantrums, power struggles and aggression day in and day out can drive you insane. But when you’re a childcare professional, manning behavior difficulties is all part of the job. Thankfully, with a few simple techniques you can diffuse those behavior bombs before they explode.
Tools to Communicate
Sometimes behavior problems happen because kids haven’t developed the skills they need to communicate effectively. In instances where a child is being aggressive, intervene immediately, and say to the aggressor, “I understand you’re angry, but hitting your friends is not okay.” Once the situation is diffused, help the child put his feelings into words.
If a child is angry that another kid yanked his crayon away, you might have the upset child say to the crayon-snatcher, “I don’t like it when you take my things from me.” If the aggressive behavior involves a young toddler, you can simply remove the offender from the situation and say, “We don’t hit our friends” and then turn your attention to the victim.
A Little Praise, Please
As long as you keep reprimanding a child, chasing him around the room and sending him to time-out, he’ll keep misbehaving. In a young child’s mind, negative attention beats no attention at all. You can diffuse attention getting behaviors by complimenting kids when they behave positively instead of fussing every time they do something wrong.
Next time one of your charges insists on running around the room during circle time, praise the children who are sitting on the carpet properly. You might say something like, “Wow! I’m so proud of everyone for sitting quietly during circle time,” and then acknowledge each child by name. The misbehaving lad will long for some of that positive praise and he’ll rush to sit down with the other children.
Work it Out
If kids are involved in a scuffle over a favorite toy, you’ll obviously have to intervene to diffuse the situation. However, if you simply take the toy away, it teaches the youngsters nothing about the value of working out their own differences. One of the responsibilities of an early childhood educator is to give kids the skills they need to function effectively in society.
Rather than putting the toy away, a better option would be to explain to the kids that aggressive behavior toward another child is not acceptable, and then guide them to a peaceful solution. You might say something like, “It looks like you two are having trouble deciding on who gets the red car. What do you think you should do?” This will lay the groundwork for youngsters to learn how to solve their own problems in the future.
Dealing with behavior difficulties in the childcare setting is a never-ending battle. But when you help children build communication skills, teach them how to solve their own problems, and offer plenty of positive praise, it helps keep common behavior issues from getting out of control.