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Struggling with behavior issues

  • 1.  Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-15-2022 04:55 PM
    At the school I am at I am struggling with behavior issues in my room which affect the children who are trying to learn.  Despite all of my best efforts, nothing is working.  Anyone have any ideas on what I can do.

    ------------------------------
    Joseph Thompson
    JrK Teacher, Preschool Curriculum Coordinator, Training Coordinator
    Trucks N Trykes Playcare
    Sioux Falls SD
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 03:21 AM
    Same issue here in Tennessee.





  • 3.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-17-2022 09:35 AM
    Hi Joseph,
    You got some real good experience shares. Certainly adding work around emotional intelligence and social emotional learning is great and helps a lot. I really like Preschool Ruler (Marc Brackett, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence), Becky Bailey's Conscious Discipline. If all the good work helps then fine. If a child seems to have significant social emotional needs that are beyond the usual, then it could help to work with a mental health consultant to consider next steps including consultations or added supports for this child and/or family. Special education services are another support. There tends to be a lot of push back from parents and also professionals around special education. However, if it is needed and not provided in the early years then things might improve or not. If things don't improve then there can be a lot of regret and unfortunately we can't go backwards in time. My most popular talk is helping parents overcome fears of special education. Feel free to contact me directly if you wish any further thoughts on your situation. Things certainly can improve. Wsihing you all the best, Scott

    ------------------------------
    Scott Mesh, PhD, CEO
    Los Niños Services (NYC) www.losninos.com
    Young Child Expo & Conference www.youngchildexpo.com
    scott.mesh@losninos.com
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottmeshnyc/
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 03:46 AM
    We have worked really hard in our PreK Program and developed a PreK/VPK Positive Behavior Support Plan that includes a list of the processes and procedures we want in place in our classroom, social stories, practice activities, visual supports, chants and songs, and modeling of each process and procedure until it is learned by all.  We combine that with positive attending (pointing out something good the student is doing before we ask for correction), sometimes its "I really like the color of your shoes," just to get the student positive and then ask for the modification of their behavior "I know you can sit criss-cross and listen to he story" followed by "great job."  Sometimes it is just complimenting the students doing the right thing and ignoring behaviors that are not what we want (but not a danger to the student or others) works great too.  I choose what strategy, both positive, by the individual child.  Our social stories, activities, visual supports, and predictable schedule the students know are all public on my Lessonpix https://www.lessonpix.com, this is the best $36 a year I invest in.

    We also use Second Steps as our social emotional learning curriculum and a schedule the children know and can count on to be the same.  We let them know in advance of any daily changes, because the routines that are broken can cause a day of tantrums.  Second Steps is a quick five or ten minute lesson every day that teaches social skills like welcoming, listening, feelings, problem solving, attention, and persistence.  I love the puppets and include stories about feelings, behaviors, processes, and procedures to extend each focused skill to at least one week (or until 90% of the class understands it).  It sounds like a lot of work and it is, but in the end the children know what is expected of them, their schedule, and are much happier.

    These are the processes and procedures we worked out as most useful to our classrooms and they are all based on ABA practices and our Second Steps Social Skills Curriculum:


    When I Come to School--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1

    Voices in School------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2

     When the Bell Rings-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3

    Good Sitting in School----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4

    Line up and Walking in School------------------------------------------------------------------------------5

    Going to the Bathroom---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------6

    Washing My Hands--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------7

    Eating at School------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------8

    Keep Your Hands and Feet to Yourself-------------------------------------------------------------------9

    Cleaning Up in School---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------10

    Fire Drill Practice----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------11

    Rules-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------12

    Affirmations----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------13

                Great Day!

                R-A-Y-S!    

    Self-Calming----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14

    Three Breathes------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------15



    ------------------------------
    Beatrice Engwall, M.Ed.
    Blended PreK Teacher
    Pinellas County Schools, Florida
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-17-2022 12:35 PM
    This is in response to one of the responses that mentions teaching children how to sit in school, how to line up in school, etc.

    I believe that as advocates for young children we must remember what "pre" means. It means before. So preschool is before school. It's not school. These children are in the preoperational stage of cognitive development. They are not ready for school, and our job is not to get them ready for school. Our job is to meet them where they are. I know I'm not going to get Dr. Lilian Katz's quote right, so I'll paraphrase: if we do what's right for children when they are two and three and four and five, they will be ready for school. The question is: will the school be ready for them? Just because the physical facility is a "school" doesn't mean we should abandon what we know about how young children learn best.

    I have never felt the need to line up preschool children, and because of the characteristics of preoperational thinking, I think it's unfair to expect them to understand staying in a line.

    I learned many years ago that expecting children to sit a certain way (my way) is not developmentally appropriate and it is not respectful of individual children. And then when I became a CLASS observer, I understood this even more.

    I have seen discussions about many children showing developmental delays possibly as a result of the covid pandemic, and I am seeing it myself. We need to meet these children where they are, not where we think they should be. It's a challenge for sure.

    ------------------------------
    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    *Children's Coalition of Aransas County Executive Board Vice-President
    *NorthWest Arkansas Community College Adjunct Professor
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-17-2022 07:02 PM

    I would like you to know that we meet each child where they are, but we still teach developmentally appropriate behaviors that keep classes of twelve or more 3, 4, and 5 year olds safe and happy.  It's not about having them act like the K-5 students, its keeping them safe and confident in independently navigating their environment.  In fact, we developed the plan, because our school wide plan was not developmentally appropriate for our young students.  Our little ones independently play and create cooperative projects (like paintings, block cities, sand/mud creations), caring for our outdoor classroom garden, and taking care of their own personal needs (i.e., eating, washing hands, cleaning up after themselves, and using the bathroom).  They excitedly participate in whole and small group learning groups with lots of music and movement, interactive reading, pre-mathematics games, and lots of fun for up to twenty minutes because we support them with visuals, positive words, modeling, and lots of love, which is all supported by our written plan.

    Our students walk in a line with soft rope with places to hold on.  We can safely leave our gated secure area to walk to the rabbits, outdoor theater, participate in our school wide parades, go to the "big-kid" garden, and go out into the unsecured parking lot for fire drills without anyone getting hurt or running in the street. This week we had the Great American Teach-In and my little ones went to two separate school parking lots to learn about and interact with our local police K-9 units and Fire Department.  The rope line, quiet whispers, and eyes watching got them safely to places most young children could not be without one on one support.  They stood in line and waited (with some high probability sequences-jumping, touching toes, & wiggling) for an opportunity to get into the fire trucks and to pet the dogs with our positive modeling and support. With lots of love and support it is amazing what they can do and what great life experiences they can have.

    We do not restrict, we support, teach, model, and scaffold.  We support "big feelings," and teach them to express them without hitting, biting, kicking, screaming, etc. "Good sitting," simply means they have enough personal space (we teach this too), to sit and not hit, kick, or harm one another.   Absent "w sitting," (our OT and PT say is very bad for their developing bodies) they sit crisscross, mermaid, or cowboy (some with varied needs pace, rock, wobble, and/or use a "figit" support ) and this allows them to positively participate in our cooperative activities like story time, cooking, gardening, gaming, etc.  When your support plan creates and environment that is predictable (they know what it going to happen), the children know what is expected of them, they know how to meet those expectations (use words instead of hitting, wash hands before we eat, etc.), and feel loved and supported your behaviors are minimal and mostly related to a tired, hungry, or frustrated child that simply needs adult support.

    We have a great emergency plan, where we ring a bell and everyone signs and says "freeze, stop, Ray's up," they look at the adult in their room and listen to the directions, which is really great for an unexpected fire alarm or safety lock down.  We practice this with song and dance, silly chants, and lots of positive supports (high five; hug; super friend award).  This safety plan with a bell is necessary, even if it is not developmentally appropriate, to keep them safe in an emergency situation.  Our support plan corresponds the Florida Early Learning Developmental Standards and Professional Competencies which is based upon building social, pre-writing/reading, pre-mathematics, and motor skills.

    We also worked closely with multiple ABA therapist to keep improving our plan to meet the diverse needs of our blended classrooms that include students with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Recently an outside ABA therapist working with a student in my classroom told me that she was pleased to see that in our classroom the student was receiving all of the ABA strategies they provided in their therapy center.  One of our ABA partners now use the three high probability sequences we use in our classrooms in their therapy to promote positive engagement by their clients.  In addition, we do extensive research and keep data to continually improve our plan. Maybe the titles of the social stories look inappropriate but I can assure you they are not.






    ------------------------------
    Beatrice Engwall, M.Ed.
    Blended PreK Teacher
    Pinellas County Schools, Florida
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 06:14 AM
    Hi Joseph and Tara,
    NAEYC defines challenging behaviors as "children's attempts to communicate a message". I love this definition because it helps me understand my role as "translator" when children present behaviors I find challenging. My lens is emotion processing so I'm usually working to identify an unprocessed emotion which may be underlying the behavior. When kids (and adults) don't know how to process emotions they can burst out in ways that are not pro-social. For example, if a child wants to play with another child but feels confused about how to enter the play, or embarrassed or disappointed because the other child said no then they might react physically. Sometimes it's a feeling in relationship to a boundary we've set or a transition we've initiated. It's our job to excavate all of this so that we can teach kids how to move through these real, human emotions so they'll be able to take a breath or get help from a teacher instead of hit (or scratch, or scream and yell, etc.) (I teach Collaborative Emotion Processing, and we'll have the book out next fall! - here is a link to some slides that provide some tools for it, including the phases of emotion processing which can help teachers with scaffolding). This is an example of a social emotional curriculum. In order to  Sometimes when we excavate we discover there are some sensory processing skills that need to be developed. This is when a person's brain needs help making sense of information that the brain is taking in from the environment or from within other parts of the body. In these cases a child needs help learning how to regulate their sensory system. An Occupational Therapist is an expert in teaching these skills. In instances of emotion processing or sensory processing we need to provide co-regulation, which means we "bring the calm". As humans our nervous systems are constantly "talking" to each other. If you take steps to calm your nervous system before approaching children then their nervous systems will be more likely to de-escalate rather than escalate as you approach.
    There's a tool I've made available to the field that is for Addressing Challenging Behaviors. I've only ever needed the first three tools. I recommend starting with the green tool because it's to identify or develop your social emotional curriculum. Here's a link to the Addressing Challenging Behaviors Tool.
    If you have specific behaviors you'd like to think through I'd be happy to provide more specific guidance!
    Sincerely,
    Lauren

    ------------------------------
    Lauren Stauble
    Consultant/Faculty
    Boston, MA
    feelthinkconnect.com
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 07:07 AM
    Thank you so much for your advice. 






  • 9.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 08:38 AM
    Have you reached out to your local Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant?  They have special training in this area and work with providers to help manage behaviors.

    ------------------------------
    Cyndie Hackett
    Infant Toddler Mental Health Consultant
    Child Care Council of Dutchess & Putnam
    Poughkeepsie NY
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 10:10 AM
    We have done that and they plan to come out, hopefully before the end of the year.

    ------------------------------
    Joseph Thompson
    JrK Teacher, Preschool Curriculum Coordinator, Training Coordinator
    Trucks N Trykes Playcare
    Sioux Falls SD
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 10:14 AM
    I have and they have said that they will be coming out, hopefully by the end of the year

    ------------------------------
    Joseph Thompson
    JrK Teacher, Preschool Curriculum Coordinator, Training Coordinator
    Trucks N Trykes Playcare
    Sioux Falls SD
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 10:21 AM
    Lauren,

    Thank you so much for your valued input. I have already download the two files and will begin studying them to get a better understanding of how to handle things.

    ------------------------------
    Joseph Thompson
    JrK Teacher, Preschool Curriculum Coordinator, Training Coordinator
    Trucks N Trykes Playcare
    Sioux Falls SD
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 10:17 AM
    Good morning, Joseph and everyone.  First, I'd like to say that I hear your frustration.  Not knowing the details of what the specific issues and behaviors are and what and you've implemented, I can share suggestions of what has been effective in my classrooms and in those I have assisted.  These are ideas in addition to what has been so articulately shared.  Is there enough physical activity and movement throughout the day for everyone and also for the children who have more energy and need additional opportunities to express energy?  Is there a balance of quiet and active activity?  I love what expert Ray Pica says, "Movement is not misbehavior."  Can you identify patterns of when challenging behavior arises?  Do the children have ample time and space to work and work deeply or is do they have to stop before their curiosity is satisfied?   If they have to stop, for example, for a designated outdoor play time, lunch, or end of day, is there a place to keep work in tact for the break and return to it later in the day or the next day?  Additionally, my block area, for example, has only been able to accommodate 3-4 kids at a time.  Some kids needed more space so I'd arrange for 2 kids and at other times one child to use the space.  We of course implemented a turn-taking system over several days for the group to have this opportunity.   Do you know what the interests are of each child?  How can you provide opportunities to connect with each child and those interests?  I would ask kids what books they'd like me to borrow from the library (instead of just choosing them myself).  It was a documentation activity and I would write it out in front of them on large paper.  Actively listening to each child, and asking others who talk at the same time, "So and so is talking right now, I'm listening to her."  This slows things down and models that each person will have a turn to talk, whatever the pace, and this is how we best hear each other.   Are the expectations for safety, respect for each person in the classroom, and materials clear and expressed in positive terms (of specifically what the kids can do, not what they shouldn't do)?  Does each child hear positive input throughout the day, specifically acknowledging what each is doing productively and effectively in an objective way?  (Ex.  Thank you for returning the rectangular blocks to the shelf.  I see you've lined up 6 cars and 2 trucks,"  I see two children carrying the leggo box to a place on the rug with a lot of space."  These phrases connect with each person as opposed to general phrases like, "Good job,"  "Clean up,"  or "I like what you're doing.")  Having children hear teachers being kind, considerate and friendly to each other is also key.  Thank you for all you do!

    Margie

    ------------------------------
    Margie Powell
    Early Childhood Trainer & Coach
    S.P.A.R.K. Childhood Teaching
    Germantown MD
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-16-2022 07:15 PM
    Thanks for the suggestions, Margie.

    Presently,

    I have gym twice a day both indoor and outdoor.  We split the class into small groups all day long as well.

    Without disclosing names, I have children who came into my room this year from a classroom where there was utter chaos and no structure. Some of my class has adapted well while others seem to act like 3 year olds. One child is the son of one of the directors and will tell you that he doesn't have to listen because his parent is the boss. When this child gets into trouble he gets violently angry and starts kicking and screaming. Another child has parents who are going through a divorce and when he is with dad he gets angry enough that he becomes non-compliant, screams, kicks and swears. However, when he is with mom, his mood swings are completely different. Finally, I have another student who seems to think it is necessary to scream for no reason.
    These three leave me wondering at times what to do. 


    ------------------------------
    Joseph Thompson
    JrK Teacher, Preschool Curriculum Coordinator, Training Coordinator
    Trucks N Trykes Playcare
    Sioux Falls SD
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-17-2022 09:30 AM
    Hi, Joseph,

    Multiple struggles happening simultaneously can be unbearable.  Having vastly different guidelines and expectations (not just teaching styles) from class to class, within classes, as well as between administration and teachers, is a heavy load, too.  While I'm  preaching to the choir, teamwork, consistency, & staff morale need improvement.  Are there opportunities for staff to talk as a classroom team or individually to you?  Are you free to go into the classroom to support and model for the staff?  For the safety of others and for the children with the extreme behavior, someone needs to be nearby, (shadowing) anticipating when outbursts would happen (via patterns observed), and redirecting to acceptable behavior before the kicking, screaming, etc.  Helping them identify what they want, dislike or are expressing is a process and takes some time.  But with consistency this can been effective.   Clearly, additional supports are necessary.  In addition, if a child needs to kick, show him/her what can be kicked, "You may kick the soft object or a ball, but not a person".  Smashing clay or playdough (without tools) is a great outlet, too.

    Has either parent/family member going through the divorce shared with you about their struggles with the child?  Do you have a good relationship with them?  What resources might they be interested in to them to help navigate this traumatic time?

    Finding out what the meaning is behind the child who screams is key to begin changing that.  What is the level of the child's vocabulary, expressive and receptive language?  Does he/she need assistance finding the words?  Again, what are the patterns of when he screams?  We want him/her to swap out the screaming for talking, asking, playing, going to a teacher for help, etc.  Visual communication messaging can also help here.  (What options can be identified with pictures, so h/s can even point and show them to you, and you or your staff can help get that for h/h?

    What specific skills do you want the individual children to develop?  Hone in on one skill at a time that you want to see and with consistency progress can be made.  I have also done a ton of problem solving with 3's, 4's and 5's, and wow! has that helped.  It's hard work, takes a lot of individualized planning, gives kids a voice and power, and helps kids to be more competent.

    If you'd like to talk further by phone, please email me and I'd be happy to share the details of techniques.

    Best,

    Margie

    ------------------------------
    Margie Powell
    Early Childhood Trainer & Coach
    S.P.A.R.K. Childhood Teaching
    Germantown MD
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-17-2022 11:52 AM
    Margie,

    Thank you for prompt reply.

    The mom that is going through the divorce communicates with me daily and we have started a point system for her child.  Some of the other kids we are going to start doing an ABC graph to see when their behavior starts and why.






  • 17.  RE: Struggling with behavior issues

    Posted 11-18-2022 07:06 AM
    Joseph,

    In addition to the wonderful advice you have received so far, check out my Behavior Mastery system at the link below and get your staff trained in it. I just presented it at the NAEYC conference on Wednesday to over 500 ECE educators who raved about it.

    https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC5sxjsoD6-zJLd5uwfLxVU12qAX8cMY-

    ------------------------------
    Ron Shuali, M.Ed.
    ECE gardener
    Ronspeak
    Davie FL
    ------------------------------