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Early childhood can create many challenging issues with behaviors in young children, this can range in many forms that can include verbal and/or physical problems that may arise due to children who are unable to use their words or control their impulses. In order for children to be able to achieve success and overcome these challenging behaviors, they must have nurturing adults to help guide them through these difficulties, teaching and caring for them emotionally to better aide their mental stability and physical actions. A Yale University Study conducted in 2005 states that over 5,000 children were expelled from preschool in one year, within that year it was recorded that one in every ten children had a severe behavioral problem. Many educators and care givers may feel the difficulty of trying to help these children in need while also assuring the children that may not possess these issues are also cared for accordingly. Let us look into the skills and mentality needed to help guide children through the difficulties of many challenging behaviors, reflecting on the skills that educators have to make confident and competent decisions for children’s best interests.
The most important aspect about children with challenging behaviors, understands what their reasoning is for their behavioral concerns. It affects those around them and often we get too caught up in stopping the behavior, which we do not stop to think what could be the root cause of the behavior thus, missing the opportunity to grow and learn. Once we look deeper into the meaning of a child’s actions, we then can assess what need is unmet for the child, instead of implementing a consequence right away. By the relationship that you have with them and their parents, this will demonstrate to the children the type of behavior along with good and bad social skills that are needed to be able to communicate effectively with others around them. They are constantly watching and observing, determining good pro social skills to have by just being in a relationship with you.
Factors that influence children’s behavior should be first determined if there is something medically or physically wrog that may be impacting their learning process, communication skills, or daily functioning such as lack of hearing. “Children have sensory differences that can affect how they behave and they don’t always have deep-seated emotional issues associated with those.” Children may be under-stimulated and begin to be loud, make noises and create more attention as they are trying to meet the needs to feel stimulated. A child that may be looked at having behavioral issues may be a subject of being unable to fully express what they need or want with words. Since they are unable to communicate what they are trying to say, they may go through stages of development that could involve inappropriate behaviors but, may be a natural phase that all children go through (E.). An example of this behavior can include crying, children seek safety and security from the moment they are born, crying is the only tool that they have known that allows them to tell their care giver that they need something. Some children may be more auditory learners and some children may be kinesthetic learners, by observing their needs you will be able to identify whether they want your attention or they may be getting too much stimulation and in return need more space.
Cultural influences are a major factor in how a child interacts and behaves outside of their home environment. If one child was raised to ask permission before playing, while the other child begins to play without asking, this does not deem one child to be misbehaving but, is a part of how they have been raised within their family system. It is important that educators and families work together to establish a connection that allows the educator to understand the reasoning for a child’s behavior. A child’s father may do everything for him at home which may make more sense as to why the child does not know how to tie his shoes or zip his jacket up at school without help. In the article Strategies for Helping Parents of Young Children Address Challenging Behaviors in the Home it reports a young girl that is displaying challenging behaviors at school. Sara is three years old and has signs of developmental delays along with difficulty expressing herself, she does not eat much if she is not fed, she cannot sit still for longer than two minutes at a time and persistently cries while at school. “Engaging in the development of cross-cultural competence enables teachers to work more effectively with children and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds”. Research has suggested that by supporting families that need further guidance and support for parent training can create positive behavior in the school and home and less challenging behavior for children. Family centeredness was used in this scenario that has assisted Sara and her family in ways that has aided in strengthening and empowering the family to support Sara’s needs within the specific cultural context of their family. By having Sara’s family implement more independent behavior, Sara can practice feeding herself on her own. By setting a timer in 3-minute increments, Sara’s family can practice Sara sitting for longer periods of time while doing activities at home, going up a minute every time to help her with staying engaged and focused in school. By helping families support the development of their children, children like Sara can fully develop positive behaviors by also teaching family members strategies to prevent challenging actions. They will also be taught how to implement skills that are equal in nature but less disruptive, and how to strengthen their effective behavior support plan between educators and parents.
By creating a positive external environment for children, this will lead to impacting their social, cognitive, and behaviors positively. Creating an environment that is suitable for their learning such as a quiet classroom with soft music playing in the background may contribute towards positive behaviors. Or, an environment concentrated around many activities, colors, shapes, obstacles will create less challenging behaviors and more social positive behaviors between peers. An educator must take into consideration the family circumstances, has a child recently been ill? Have they recently been in trouble at home? These should be measured when noting a challenging behavior, the capability of a small child in understanding the rules of engagement from home to school can be a lot for them to handle. As educators and parents, we must first ask ourselves how can I better support this child? I cannot ask them to behave accordingly if they not have been taught what an appropriate behavior is. Using kind stern words to address a situation will help engage their understanding of a situation. Challenging behaviors come in many forms and thus, must be treated delicately and accordingly. A child that exhibits challenging behaviors is asking for our help, they are saying they feel unsafe or insecure and though we may not have control over their direct actions, we do have control over helping them build more skill in emotional literacy and prosocial behaviors.
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