Shifting How we Manage Challenging Behaviors: Try Viewing Behavior in a New Light
Behavior is simply a child’s (or adult’s) reaction to their environment or stimuli within that environment. The skills a child (or adult) has built will determine how well or how poorly they react. The skills we are referring to include the ability to manage strong emotions, communicate needs, delay gratification, compromise, and control impulses, just to name a few.
When you look at challenging behavior as an indication of the skills children still need to build, you can move from constantly reacting to behaviors to identifying missing skills and intentionally working with children to strengthen these skills.
Here are a few additional ways that educators can look at challenging behaviors that might shed new light on what is being observed:
- Behavior is a form of communication. Even children who are not yet using words are telling us so much with their behaviors. Sometimes, children tell us they are tired by crying uncontrollably. Sometimes, children tell us they are frustrated by throwing blocks. Sometimes, children tell us they need connection by seeking attention from us in less than desirable means.
- Some behaviors are developmental. A familiar example would be biting, where children explore the materials (and peers) in the environment with their mouths. Toddlers are also in the developmental stage where they are seeking autonomy. Preschoolers may have trouble transitioning because they are still working on their mental flexibility.
- Sometimes, behaviors are a form of play. Wrestling, tumbling, and big body play can appear to be aggressive interactions. Sometimes, children throwing dramatic play food items at one another are just playing a game that requires safer objects to toss.
Looking at behaviors differently can help educators to pause and look for the underlying cause or message behind the behavior. This pause should provide enough time for teachers to regulate their own emotions, use the skills they have developed, and respond to the behavior effectively. Remember, you can’t teach self-regulation to children when you are not managing your own emotional responses to what is happening in the environment.
For the main article Shifting How we Manage Challenging Behaviors, CLICK HERE
For the article Try Taking a Proactive Approach, CLICK HERE
For the article Try Rethinking Transitions, CLICK HERE
For the article Try Creating Consistency between Home & School, CLICK HERE