How can teachers help young children learn expected behaviors?
Page 1: Preventing Challenging Behavior in Young Children
Early childhood teachers* identify children’s challenging behaviors as one of the most difficult aspects of their jobs. In fact, this is the number one area for which early childhood teachers report feeling the least prepared. To be successful, teachers must be able to prevent and respond to challenging behaviors. Often, these behaviors can be prevented through universal teaching practices or preventive practices that are designed to benefit all children in the classroom. One powerful preventive practice is establishing clear behavior expectations and rules and systematically teaching and encouraging children to follow them. This preventive practice can have a significant impact on children’s behavior and help classrooms to function more smoothly. It creates a common ground for how children and adults are expected to treat each other. The use of this practice also builds a strong classroom community, promotes physical and emotional safety, and helps children develop confidence and competence as they grow.
Listen as Mary Louise Hemmeter talks about what teachers can do to prevent challenging behaviors in young children (time: 1:26).
Mary Louise Hemmeter, PhD
Nicholas Hobbs Chair
in Special Education and Human Development
Most educators recognize that rules offer children more predictability in the classroom and should be incorporated into a good management plan. Formal expectations, including rules, should be routinely taught, posted, reviewed, and practiced.
(Van Acker, 2007)
*In this module, the term “teacher” refers to any adult who works with children in a classroom or childcare setting.