‘We’ as Educators and Parents have all dealt with a situation of a toddler throwing a tantrum, or breaking up a conflict between two preschoolers. However, what if the behaviour becomes more challenging and repetitive? What if the behaviour is harming the child and/or others? What if the behaviour is out of character for the child in question?

Picture1 respect

Educators have a duty of care to ‘Act in the best interest in of the child’ as stated in Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics and The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. So how do we deal with challenging behaviour in young children?
Remember that the concern is the behaviour, and we want to support the child to overcome this behaviour. The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) Outcome 3 outlines that Children have a strong sense of well-being. Children become strong in their social and emotional well-being.

Belonging Being Becoming

Belonging Being Becoming

What are the influences or triggers behind the behaviour?

There are many reasons why a child may be acting and it’s important to recognise these influences and triggers. It may be a simple trigger such as the birth of a sibling, moving house, or a parent working away from home for an extended period of time. Furthermore, the child may be struggling to communicate their needs due to age and development. There may also be more serious triggers on the child’s behaviour. The child may have an additional need or there is an illness within the family network. There may be a traumatic situation within the home, a divorce, a death and/or domestic abuse, to name a few.

What strategies could support children’s emerging autonomy, interdependence, resilience and a sense of agency?

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) states children have a strong sense of identity. Children feel safe, secure and supported. Children develop emerging autonomy, interdependence, resilience and a sense of agency. Children learn to interact with care, empathy and respect. Therefore Educators and Parents should utilise re-direction, encourage self-regulation and empower children to be resilient when dealing with difficult situations and traumatic events in their lives. Encourage children to start to talk about their feelings and have an awareness of their emotions. Use appropriate language that promotes positive behaviour. Be consistent in the childrearing practices, including those between the care environment and the home environment. Set up an engaging, inviting environment to minimise the challenging behaviour from occurring.

What if the behaviour continues?

If the strategies you put into place appear to have no influence on the challenging behaviour of the child, it’s important to consult with the parents, families, communities and other professionals to support the child. Having an understanding of ‘Behaviour Guidance Plans’ will help you to put a plan together with all the important people in the child’s life. Encourage parents to seek professional services that can assist, such as a Doctor, Speech Pathologist and Child Psychologist to name a few. Utilise the resource of Inclusion Support if needed.

For further information and support please consider visiting the following websites and links;

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Circle of Security http://www.circleofsecurity.com Raising Children Network http://www.raisingchildren.net.au Early Childhood Australia http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au