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Managing Challenging Behaviors for Early Years Practitioners

Managing Challenging Children's Behaviours for Early Years Practitioners Behaviour is like an iceberg. What you see is only the “tip”. The hitting, throwing of toys, and turning over furniture are actually a symptom of something deeper. The challenge is to find out what is underneath the behaviour that you are missing, as this is the reason for the behaviours you are seeing. The key to addressing challenging behaviours is to focus your strategies on the reason for the behaviour - the bottom of the iceberg. By doing this, you are able to change or reduce the behaviours that you see - the tip of the iceberg. To help determine this, please feel free to use our iceberg behaviour poster.

Download a blank iceberg poster by clicking below,

Feelings Iceberg Blank Individual Child Poster
Download PDF • 52KB

Struggling to determine the reason for the behaviour? Follow these 5 steps;

  1. Observe & track behaviour (what negative behaviour is the child showing; Throwing toys, hitting others etc.)

  2. Identify the reason for the behaviour (what benefit does the child get by performing the action; Are they scaring others away so they can play with the toys by themselves, for example, if they hit others) Please note, any reasons/triggers discovered by you should be shared with the child's families, to see if their parents have notice a similar behaviour at home. For example, if a child is an only child, who plays well with their toys at home, and they aren't used to others entering their space and playing with their toys, then parents wouldn't be aware of this behaviour issue. Furthermore, this child does not have the opportunity to practice sharing at home. Thus, this is a skill will have to learn at preschool! Once you have determined the trigger (for example, this child does not like sharing toys), we need to think of what social skills are missing, related to this behaviour - which would be a lack of words to communicate his need for space - which you can then use in the behaviour support plan (stage 3).

  3. Create a Behavior Support Plan A support plan is a plan of action with specific strategies, tools, and responsibilities for the staff and parents. The support plan should be focused on teaching the child the missing social skill (calming down when angry, sharing, using words to communicate needs, etc.) or adapting the environment, if the needed social skills are not age appropriate.For this child, a potential support plan would look similar to this, Plan Prevention (Set up a space within the classroom for children to play alone in, when needed) Manage Trigger (Limit the number of children in each play area, adding an extra focus around children with noted behaviour)Teaching Skills (Promoting the children to use words to express their social interactions) Strategy Prevention (Create a cosy corner, encourage children to use this space when they feel overwhelmed, or wish to be alone)Manage Trigger (Provide multiple activities covering a wide range of interests, if most children enjoy playing with cars, having two cars themed activities spaced apart may help reduce the number of children in one area) Teaching Skills (Telling children "X needs his space while playing" so they are aware) Timelines Prevention (Within 1 week) Manage Trigger (Within 1 week) Teaching Skills (Within 1 month, progression in the child's communication skills should be observed)

Show this support plan with the child's parents too, so they can help support this development at home too. 4. Implement plan & track strategies

5. Review the plan and adjust, it when needed. (The last step in the process is to review the behavior support plan and make adjustments to strategies, as needed.) For more information regarding this, please check out this article by clicking here.

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