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Challenging Behaviors

  • 1.  Challenging Behaviors

    Posted 10-23-2019 12:24 PM
    I need some resources to help a teacher who has a couple of children with challenging behaviors. We utilize SEFEL and FlipIt.  It is difficult redirecting them and at times they get aggressive with the other children and the teachers. We have had an extra person in the classroom to help out. That did not seem to help.  We are in the waiting period between the observation being completed and the parents following up with the therapist.

    Stephanie Durham
    Education Manager
    Salisbury NC

  • 2.  RE: Challenging Behaviors

    Posted 10-24-2019 12:22 AM
    Greetings NAEYC Members,
    Yes, great ready to deal with challenging behaviors as a teacher of young or for that matter any age children. As a Teacher and a Behavior Therapist I have had the advantage of being trained in behavior modification techniques. Know this; there a 4 reasons for behavior : 1:ATTENTION 2: Access to tangibles 3:Escape from the demand or request and 4: Sensory supply or self stimulation.
    These are the 4 main reasons so what a teacher an do is use this knowledge and give a TON of praise when the students are DOING it correct in front of the child with the challenging behavior. Example : "I LOVE the way everyone is listening to me when I asked everyone to sit on the carpet for story time today, awesome job everyone". The challenging student will see and notice the positive attention is given when they "conform" and usually this works if done often. Give stickers and reinforcers for the positive behavior, give what you can, smile and let the reinforcement begin.
    Remove easy access to the tangibles that the challenging behavior student likes. This way they will have to earn it or work for it.
    Escape is difficult, hopefully if they are receiving enough ATTENTION and reinforcement they will not try to escape or avoid the request. But be ready to block the exit of your classroom with what you can safely, oftentimes I use a bean bag chair.
    Sensory tables are great, play doh and other sensory bins are always a great idea. If any child/student is showing frustration, offer them time at the sensory bins. Be creative, tubs, bins, Tupperware filled with rice even helps. Look on Pinterest, they have hundreds of ideas that are designed for this purpose.
    Happy Fall to y'all,
    Blessings and Joy,

    Hedy Dembowski, B.A., ECE
    Early Childhood Educator
    Riverside County Office of Education
    Menifee CA

  • 3.  RE: Challenging Behaviors

    Posted 10-25-2019 08:33 AM
    In regards to the sensory aspect of calming a child.  I make play dough using lemon and rosemary.  It has a very calming effect for the children.

    Suzanne Connole, MA-ECE, MEd, NBCT
    Montgomery County Public Schools
    Mount Airy MD

  • 4.  RE: Challenging Behaviors

    Posted 10-24-2019 08:30 AM
    Hello,   I highly recommend utilizing information/books from:

    About Miriam Manela - The Thrive Group

    As a teacher I was fortunate enough to attend three workshops given by Miriam Manela.  She has excellent, appropriate and practical tips and techniques that are designed for children with specific needs, though many of them can be utilized in any classroom setting with all children.  Her book, The Parent Child Dance is written for parents, but is extremely helpful for teachers as well.  You will not be sorry if you explore the information she supplies!!!!

    Gina James

    Gina James
    Williston Pk NY

  • 5.  RE: Challenging Behaviors

    Posted 10-24-2019 04:46 PM
    ECE has had many approaches to aggressive behaviors over time. Now we have neurobiology to help us understand the problem and some new solutions. Aggressive behaviors are impulsive responses from the part of the brain (the amygdala) that uses flee, freeze, or flight impulses for responding to fear. The responses are quick and inaccurate. We need the fearful child to be made safe and calm so she can think responses through more adequately using the part of the brain that does that (the prefrontal cortex). Often this fear response is fear that they won't obtain something they want. They haven't learned emotional regulation when they respond in this way, and almost half of children haven't learned emotional regulation by age four. Thus my suggestion to the staff is not to punish the aggressive child. Calm them. When they are calmed asked them open ended questions about what went wrong and what they could do about how there response hadn't worked. No lectures. No disappointment. Just soft eyes and voice on the part of the teacher.

    Jack Wright
    Child Development Consultant
    Success With Children
    St Ignatius MT

  • 6.  RE: Challenging Behaviors

    Posted 10-25-2019 10:51 AM

    Hi Stephanie and all -

    I love the many responses, as helping children with their behavior should take into consideration all contributions. So many times, it's tempting to look at the child only, when interactions of the adult(s) and aspects of the setting contribute to the behavior. We have to look at the whole child and his/her need for soothing from stress, for security and safety, and for a meaningful personal relationship with teachers. We need to consider whether the classroom is adequately stimulating to meet this particular child's learning needs. We especially need to keep expectations and routines consistent. Teachers need to evaluate skills that are needed for a behavior (e.g., communication, regulation, physical skill, and cognitive processing) and be able to support a child's emerging skills.

    Children do the best they can with the skills they have. When they are tired, feel disconnected, or don't have something present to engage them meaningfully, they manage in the best way they can. Teachers can minimize power struggles by redirecting and engaging children in shared activities. The purpose of behavior guidance is to build children's skills. They are just gaining self-regulation and need preparation and support to be successful navigating transitions, change, and expectations.

    There are very specific strategies teachers can use that are posted in the resource section of my website: These handouts can be copied and shared freely. You'll find resources for families to show how much sleep, stress support, nutrition, and exercise children need. There are strategies for behavior guidance that are research-based and effective. Please stop by and download these resources.

    Teaching is such hard work. Children's frustrations can be emotional triggers for teachers. I encourage viewing behavior guidance through the lens of skill building.Often comforting and validating feelings provide safety and encourage cooperative problem solving. "You are frustrated. What can I do to get you what you need?" Responses like this invite connection and ensure safety.

    The resources and handouts will be a big help to teachers! Please print and share them! Three cheers to every teacher out there working hard to support children and their families.

    Marie Masterson​

    Marie Masterson
    Marie Masterson
    Warrenville IL

  • 7.  RE: Challenging Behaviors

    Posted 11-16-2019 12:17 PM
    Hello Stephanie,
    I have research that shows how the classroom environment design affects how the children behave.
    I advise looking at the how the classroom is setup with playing opportunities for children for self directed play time.
    Often classroom shelves have limited toys, with teachers saying,  "the children just make a mess, so we have less toys on the shelves."
    So children misbehave.
    Designed correctly: is to offer children an environment where teachers can say, "go and play, "
    because they offered a classroom full of child-lead playing opportunities.
    Thank you,

    Melanie Smith
    The Preschool Doctor