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Understanding: the first step to child behaviour management

Adults who model positive attitudes, behaviour and appropriate use of language help children to learn socially acceptable ways of behaving and interacting with others. Children need support from the adults in their lives to interpret and express their needs in ways that are appropriate to the situation and environment. Some behaviours regarded as challenging are simply age appropriate behaviour.

For instance; a two year old not being able to sit still, or an eight year old unable to contain their excitement and wait for their turn.


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Learning to communicate needs and wants in appropriate ways is one of the many challenges young children face. It may be appropriate, at times, to involve children in decision making and discussions about their behaviour. However, this must be done sensitively with careful forethought. When educators and families have mutually respectful relationships and communicate openly they are able to work together to plan a supportive and appropriate experience for each child.

Families vary considerably in child rearing practices and the ways each family manages challenging behaviour.


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The kinds of behaviour they accept may differ from those of the education and care service. This can cause confusion for the child and may not be helpful in assisting the child to change their behaviour. When there are differences in ways of responding to challenging behaviour and there are differences of opinion it is crucial for the parents and services to work together to come to an agreement that is in the best interests of the child.

Children (0-11) (archived)

For instance, a child may consistently hit other children. This behaviour although undesirable may not be outside of typical development, and needs to be guided accordingly. A positive environment for learning and development will help reduce challenging behaviours. When a child displays challenging behaviour, it is important to consider how frequently the behaviour occurs, and what it may be in response to, in which settings it occurs and how extreme it is.

There may be times when a child displays challenging behaviour that is isolated or infrequent. In some situations the service may need to increase the educator to child ratios to meet the needs of children with challenging behaviour. For a child under preschool age, assessments of their developmental needs, interests, experiences, progress against the learning outcomes and participation in the educational program; and for a child over preschool age, evaluations of the child's wellbeing, development and learning can be used to inform behaviour management strategies that may assist to minimise challenging behaviours at the education and care service.

For children over preschool age the aim is to empower them to make favourable choices, develop positive and respectful relationships and to reflect and act upon what is fair and equitable. Observations need to be recorded and information collated so that an informed decision can be made about whether individual behaviour guidance strategies are required or whether the behaviour can be addressed through the daily behaviour guidance practices of the service. Discipline, or punishment, does not contribute to this aim.

Using appropriate behaviour guidance helps children to regulate their own behaviour so that they do not always rely on adults to guide their behaviour, although they will still need assistance much of the time. Older children are more able to negotiate their own rules and the consequences of not keeping to them, whilst younger children need clearer guidelines and boundaries.

In recognition of their growing maturity and ability to take responsibility for their own behaviour older children may be provided with some privileges and increased freedom. The approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that no child being educated and cared for by the service is subjected to any form of corporal punishment or any discipline that is unreasonable in the circumstances section The following are some examples of corporal punishment and unreasonable discipline that are considered serious breaches of the Education and Care Services National Law Act National Law :.

This practice focuses on the exclusion of the child from the group with no support or opportunity for reflection or consideration of other ways of behaving and it does not help children develop positive behaviour or feelings of self-worth. All services are required to operate in a way which ensures that children are safe, that their developmental needs are being met and that they are adequately supervised at all times.

Challenging Behaviour in the Classroom | Strategies for Teachers

Use of time out in this context is inappropriate and could be considered as unreasonable discipline section In some situations it may be necessary to take a child to an alternative environment to support the child to calm down or regain self-control. Our aim should be to prompt and support children when children are experiencing frustration, anger or fear, to remove themselves from these situations and move to a space where they can gain composure and control over their emotions.

The educator must remain with the child, offering reassurance and support so the child can settle down and regain self-control. This strategy can be used as an opportunity for educators to help the child develop self-calming behaviours and gain composure and control. This is viewed as a learning opportunity, not as punishment. An educator should always remain with the child.

How to Manage Children's Challenging Behaviour

In the heat of highly emotive moments it can be challenging for children to think or talk about what went wrong. When the child has calmed down, educators may then provide support and assist the child to identify what happened and what they may have done differently.

Managing Problem Behaviors in Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities

When a child does not respond to daily behaviour guidance strategies, it is essential that educators consult with parents about developing specific behaviour guidance strategies. There may be times when additional professional assistance and external support are needed to help a child. Parental consent is required where referral for intervention is requested by educators.

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