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Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

  • 1.  Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 14 days ago
    I am having challenging behaviors in my classroom this is the first time I have been a preschool lead teacher and it is getting disruptive and in some moments abusive what can I do to help my classroom if you have any curriculum activity books on challenging behaviors or any idea I've just ordered a book called conscience discipline so I'm hoping that will help me a lot any views let me know thanks.

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    Linda Strub
    Assistant Toddler Teacher
    Little Saints
    New Prague MN
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  • 2.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 14 days ago
    Conscious Discipline is a good place to start.  The program is specific with suggestions.
    Observe what is happening in your classroom before it gets out of control.  Document the time of day and see if there is a pattern in the behavior.  Make tally marks for each time and time of day there is something happening that is not appropriate, and another column for when the children something that you want them to do.  If you focus on what they are doing right, that sometimes helps as well.  Children will do anything for attention, and it doesn't matter if the attention is positive or negative, so you might as well give attention for the positive.
    Is there a problem with the ability to communicate and are the children trying to say something and can't figure it out?  There is a book called "Hands are not for hitting" that might also help with teaching the children what they can do.
    I had some teachers I was working with teach the toddlers explicitly to say "Please stop" using sign language, and then when the teacher had each child in the discussion between them say "please stop" in sign language.  "Be gentle" might work as well.   They also verbally said please stop.  The secret here was that their hands were busy signing, and not hurting,  and the children were able to tell the other child that they were not happy with what was happening.  Being able to communicate their needs by signing really helped.  That class also learned other signs, such as "more", and  "Thank you".  Signing provided the bridge between being prelingual and lingual. The physical act of talking is sometimes really hard for little children when they are stressed.

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    Donna J.Satterlee
    Associate Professor
    University of Maryland Eastern Shore
    Princess Anne, Maryland
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  • 3.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 14 days ago

    I agree Conscious Discipline is a great source and many early teachers are knowledgeable.  It takes small steps to understand that the changes will come positively or at least the environment will reduce to a more loving space for everyone.

    I suggest that you review your room structure, then the materials, is it to much stuff to overload the brain.  Look at your students environment and what home and school may have in common.

    Them meet with you team and get feedback and their vision, feelings?  

    Then introduce the conscious discipline Sofia books first.  And modeling the expectations in the room.

    Teachers need there support and safe please too.  So engage them and remind them we are learning together as teachers, parents and students.

    I hope this helps



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    Terri Robinson
    Department Lead Teacher
    Boynton Beach FL
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  • 4.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 14 days ago
    We use Conscious Discipline and I absolutely love it. It grounds you beautifully in coaching the child toward self regulation. I don't have enough good things to say about it.

    Nonetheless, I have had 2 significant fails in using it. In both cases I was concentrating on the Conscious Discipline system and in both cases the children were powerfully drawn toward disruptive behaviors. In both cases the children had experience with systems like RIE that were sufficiently similar that they had already learned to tune out calls for empathy. In both cases I ultimately needed to more through empathy talk quickly and focus more on the consequences, but in a loving, non-punitive way.

    Limiting the disruptive child's capacity to dominate the situation is actually core to Conscious Discipline, so I don't think I departed from the principles - it's just that you may not get all the words and attitudes you need for the consequences portion from the book. Have a behavior plan in place.

    Just FYI, in terms of those two children, one is now in much more control of his behaviors and much more accepted by his peers than he had been when disruptive. He feels the power of his success and it is motivating. The other made some improvements but never stopped looking for avenues to disrupt (some of his issues/actions were very serious). At least our consequences protected the other children and classroom order. Ultimately, that second child left my program, so no more to report. But the difference in outcomes lines up with differences in parent responses. The second parent took no actions that I know of. She said that her child was consistently wonderful outside of school and that the school environment must be the thing that brought those behaviors out in her child. The first child's parents acted immediately. They sought professional support and we were able to create a plan for consequences that would be seamless between school and home.

    I now ask on my application if a child has had any issues with physical or verbal aggression (and to explain if 'yes'). It helps me prepare appropriately and I think it puts me in a stronger position to respond to a 'you deal with it' attitude from a parent. It also reminds me that I can respond calmly and lovingly to aggression without normalizing it. The parents can be your strongest ally, so bring them in as quickly as you can.

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    Jeanne deMarrais
    The Mulberry Tree
    Santa Monica CA
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  • 5.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 13 days ago

    We use the same practice in our school. It's very effective and when it fails, it's usually because we can't get the parents buy-in. They can't see that their lack of consistent discipline sends a mix message. It's especially apparent during our parent teacher conferences and we invite the child to attend. Parents will actually marvel at how out of control their child is and will refer it to "unrestricted exploration." The child is in desperate need of structure and discipline. 

    We've had to cancel contracts in the past-but only about five or six in 18 years. I don't feel guilty anymore.  We give ample time and opportunity for families to help us help get their child on tract. 



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    Heather Dean
    Director
    Bright Futures Child Care Learning Center
    Fairfield CT
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  • 6.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 12 days ago
    Good evening all!

    Thank you for your help in this matter.

      I have been an assistant teacher in many classrooms, taught all ages in my home daycare and worked with all ages of children., I have never been a lead.  There is so much to experiment with and believe me I have gone through many to the extreme.

      It's hard sometimes when I don't get the help I need.  Especially when I have more kids than the normal because of staffing issues.  So It can become frustrating,

    I try to do my best, take time, and redirect but I do have many young toddlers that are used to running around and doing other things instead of circle time activities, Jesus time and stations.  They are starting to learn little by little but I still need assistance.

      I have rearranged my room many times, I have reduced the number of toys and what not, I have changed my pictures on walls ceilings because of the distractions but I am running out of ideas. I have had many assistant teachers come and go.

    That is why I am addressing you all and getting the book.  I tried to look up the pyramid but I cant get into it.  It states more for your facility than for the teacher?  I am confused.

    But you are right, I am in trouble because I was thrown into this.  Now I am thinking about getting out.  I am hoping you all have some great ideas to help with my situation at hand.

    I am not giving up on my children,  I love them all dearly, I just need to find a peace of mind to teach them in a loving kind way without the outbursts from them.  I know they are all children and it will happen from time to time but I have some serious issues,

    One child throws chairs, toys or a table at me,  and now there are a couple of my other children who are mimicking that child's behavior.

    So if any of you have more information for me please bring it!

    Thanks all
    Lindy

    ------------------------------
    Linda Strub
    Assistant Toddler Teacher
    Little Saints
    New Prague MN
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  • 7.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 12 days ago
    Hi Linda,

    Please remember that you are not alone. Take a breath. Remain confident that you are in control of your classroom, but you may still need help and you are entitled to help. Let the director of your center know that you need support in order to turn this situation around. There are probably also resource personnel in your area that could assist. Reach out to them. One way or another, this cannot be. If chair throwing is tolerated there will be more chair throwing and the situation will be intolerable for you.

    In many places, it is OK to ask a parent to shadow a child. COVID complicates that situation, but it may be something you could use. At most schools where I have worked, a child who threw a chair at a teacher would be sent home for the day. If chair throwing is somehow normal, you are in a special needs context and need the level of support that is appropriate to that population.

    Do you dance? If your classroom is physically safe, then you can play music and dance with your children. They don't have to participate to benefit. Also, use puppets. They are shockingly effective and you can stage a little drama between them that conveys your message (just don't get too preachy when you convey it).

    I have a mini-trampoline that I hang high on a wall. Before I take it down, I remind the class that it only stays down while everyone uses it safely and nicely. We go through a few examples of using nicely so that it is clear that quiet voices, hands and feet to self are part of using nicely. I am very ready to put it back on the wall. They want it, so it is a good opportunity to take control, only moving to the next step (say, putting it on the floor) when they are safe and ready to take turns. They love jumping, especially if you sing or chant as you hold their hands.

    It is good to have some delightful, but non-essential things for which you are absolutely the gatekeeper. If there are issues, you gently tell them how sorry that it didn't work out this time. No second chances for now, but no worries because you can do it another day. Stay pleasant, but firm - yes, we can do it again, but not today. And move on.

    Best of luck, 
    Jeanne deMarrais






  • 8.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 7 days ago
    Lindy,

    What a robust and valuable discussion! The Pyramid Model and Conscious Disciple are both great supports. These links will take you to free resources that can be implemented immediately. I echo the sentiments of others:

    1) Positive Relationships - body language & body position when interacting with children, tone & volume of voice, intentional words of communication (frequent positive descriptive praise)
    2) Supportive Environments (classroom, outdoors, etc) - designed to be as independently child-accessible as possible
    3) Individual Child Interventions - adaptive tools and routines to support individual children's needs.

    I really like this checklist, Pyramid Model Practices Implementation Checklist as it takes the teacher's perspective.

    Classroom Visual Support Tools:
    Solution Kit: Classroom Edition
    Feeling Faces: This is How I Feel Today
    Visual Supports for Routines, Schedules and Transitions for Families - to support what you do in the classroom

    And finally, I recently just joined this free learning community, Play to Grow Community, which teaches how to use these important skills in the context of play! There is a resource in there about limit setting that might be helpful as related to trying to curb the "monkey see monkey do" aspect of reinforcing negative attention for undesirable behaviors.

    Hang in there and thank YOU for being a positive driving force for the children in your care!

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    Erin Murray
    Education Consultant
    Moorestown, NJ
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  • 9.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 14 days ago
    Conscious Discipline is an excellent approach. You might also check out Pyramid Model. They have tons of resources online. My state is a Pyramid Model state so we have some state level resources, but I don't know about MN.

    The first place to respond to behavior challenges is with the adults - How do you define challenges? What kinds of relationships do you have with children and their families? Are your expectations clear, well communicated, consistent, and developmentally appropriate? How do you respond to, reflect on, and analyze what happened? How do you teach children what you expect them to do? What about your schedule, curriculum, physical space arrangement? These questions need to be considered before you jump to holding the children accountable for their behavior. There is a national crisis of expelling children from preschool that we need to address. There are of course those children who need more focused intervention, but I believe that happens after you really examine the adult presence and role in the classroom.

    Good luck! Challenging behavior is a part of teaching but you can develop skills and knowledge and attitudes that help you navigate even the most challenging behaviors.


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    Dottie Bauer
    Professor emerita
    Keene State College
    Antrim NH
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  • 10.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 13 days ago
    Linda, you're in trouble. Someone didn't prepare you for this challenge. The first thing to know is that discipline only makes behaviors worse. Children who act out are frightened and need comforting and then gently told, or asked, what went wrong here and what can we do about it. "Were you afraid you wouldn't get that toy? I can help you get toys. Were you not getting enough attention in our group? I'll make smaller groups so I can be with you better." etc. etc.   It takes relationship and trust. You may try to see a successful teacher in action. Best wishes.

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    Jack Wright
    Child Development Consultant
    Success With Children
    St Ignatius MT
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  • 11.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 13 days ago
    Also remember the children like the adults are experiencing so much.  Love and kindness is so important.    Model the behavior in small steps, and acknowledge the progress.

    Remember to nurture your staff too.  There is no shame.  






  • 12.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 13 days ago
    Remember to warn children a few minutes ahead of time when they will need to change activities soon, and remember to use a transition to make the change easier.

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    Donna J.Satterlee
    Associate Professor
    University of Maryland Eastern Shore
    Princess Anne, Maryland
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  • 13.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 13 days ago
    Hello Linda,
    Congratulations on being the Lead teacher. You are in a great position to help these children in self regulation skills. These skills are what they will take with them to adulthood. As suggested above, there are many scientific tried out methods to help with challenging behavior. I use the Pyramid Model. And it is very effective. The widest lower part guide you in setting up your classroom in ways to minimize challenging behavior. (Yes the way the classroom is set up can actually promote it). And the tip of the pyramid  is ways to guide an individual child who still has behavior issues after all other levels have been tried. I like this method because of the levels of intervention it offers. It also deals with teacher coping skills because we can all get stressed sometimes. All the best to you.


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    Shariya Dhammapala
    Olympia WA
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  • 14.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 13 days ago
    Hello, Linda:

    Challenging behaviors can be so tricky to manage and feel so overwhelming to teachers.  They also tend to build on each other, with little "fires" popping up one after the other.  This is exhausting for teachers (and children!), but the good news is that you can play a big role in making things better.  I noticed that you titled your post "challenging children" which focuses on the children and not the behavior.  All behavior is communication, so as some others have posted, the starting point is with the adults, not with the children.  Children respond to their environment, which is created by the adults.  As others have suggested, the Pyramid Model (http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/) offers an approach that begins with the relationships and the environment.  A focus on building strong, healthy, responsive relationships and creating an environment that is welcoming, predictable, and warm are a path towards a more peaceful and supportive classroom for both children and teachers.  (The second tiers are also important, but starting with the foundation is crucial.)  Best of luck!

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    Ann Linge
    Early Learning Center Program Coordinator
    The Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development
    Brattleboro VT
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  • 15.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 12 days ago
    Linda, it is good to reach out for help.  The Pyramid Model may sound complicated but the basics are these:
    1.  Most importantly, how is your relationship with each child?  That should be the first thing you think about.  Do they know they are cared about?  Do you show affection and smile and laugh with them?  Building a relationship with each child is the most important thing.
    2.  The next most important thing is environment.  Someone mentioned the classroom set up...that is important so that there are areas designated for certain types of play and set up so that the play doesn't interfere with the play in another area.  Is it set up in an age-appropriate way?  Are the materials age-appropriate?  I can see how that might be challenging with the age group of 2 - 4 year olds.  Two-year olds cannot have many of the materials around that 4 year olds love and need.  Is there someone that can help you determine if the materials are appropriate and engaging?  When children are not interested in or challenged by what is available to them, they sometimes get into trouble or exhibit what feels like "challenging behavior".

    Linda, if you work on these two things, MOST children will respond.  I will private message you my email address in case you are interested in sending me pictures of your classroom to get feedback on that or if you have follow up questions.  I might be able to recommend some reading for you in specific areas.

    I am wishing you well and sending you joy on this journey.  Honestly, as you get more tools in your "tool belt" and it gets better, the job is so much more fun!
    Andrea Dekker

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    Andrea Dekker
    Early Childhood Specialist
    United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona
    Tucson AZ
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  • 16.  RE: Challenging children in preschool ages 2-4

    Posted 8 days ago
    Hello Linda,
    I'd be happy to connect with you and even come to your school.  I am in Minnesota as well.  I teach a model called No-Problem Parenting™ and recently I provided training for a daycare center (80 families - 20 teachers).  I train you on the "model" (3 -2 hour trainings) and after each 2 hour training I shadow you in your school/center and role model or assist you on how to implement the skills right there with the kiddos.  I am happy to connect you with the Daycare Owner and Director if you'd like to hear from them how in just the first day, the improvements in both child behavior and staff responses were unbelievable.  I was introduced to the daycare owner by a parent who I was coaching.  This parents child was at risk of being expelled from daycare (age 3).  The child (and a few others who they were struggling with) are all staying at the center.

    Here is a link to learn more: Who We Serve

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    Jaclyn (Jaci) Finneman
    Owner/Parenting Coach & Consultant
    Hello World, LLC
    South Haven MN
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