Both acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in childcare need to be recognised and appropriately managed. One of the constant challenges for childcare providers is to manage children’s behaviour in the childcare environment. At Jumpstart Childcare we have a range of management strategies in place to encourage acceptable behaviour while discouraging unacceptable behaviour.
Obviously a childcare centre has to treat behavioural issues fairly and in a holistic manner. The holistic approach can be expected to differ from those of a parent and their child. However the broad principles of promoting acceptable behaviour while endeavouring to alter unacceptable behaviour remain.
The following broad principles can be applied when managing behaviour in childcare facilities:
Creating an environment where all children can feel safe and secure is a key aim of all childcare management facilities. To that end it is necessary to implement a number of strategies that will help to foster a better environment and improve child management.
Staff need to understand that each child is unique in their own way and that they are likely to experience the full spectrum of emotions while in childcare and that in many instance coping strategies to deal with these emotions may not yet be fully developed. Carers need to be both empathetic towards and understanding of children displaying behaviours that are not in line with their overall development.
Additionally, careers need to be able to reflect on their ability to interact with and monitor children in their care.
Limits should be framed positively to encourage appropriate behaviour rather than framed in a negative fashion. Instead of sending a negative instruction such as “don’t leave the blocks on the floor,” frame the instruction positively “it’s a good idea to pick the blocks up so we’ll know where to find them next time.”
It’s much easier for everybody including children to comply with an instruction when they understand the reasoning behind it. The example above contains a clear rationale as to why the blocks should be put away.
Simple clear boundaries that leave no room for interpretation make it easier to define what acceptable behaviour is – a simple easy to understand boundary is a statement like “chairs are for sitting on.”
It can be easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the child rather than the child’s behaviour, this can lead to having negative impacts on the child, generating feelings of guilt, shame and potentially even leading to feelings of low self esteem.
Instead of being judgemental we need to be able to explain why the behaviour is not appropriate. Calling someone bad leads nowhere – explaining how their actions have an impact on others can lead to long term positive change.
Giving the child opportunities to exercise choice is a good way to avoid getting into energy sapping power struggles with the child. Instead of commanding them to perform a specific action – frame the conversation in the form of a question. A simple example would be to offer a choice of cleaning up – where do you think we should start- with the blocks or the pencils?
Much like when dealing with negative behaviours positive behaviours should be reinforced by focusing on the behaviour – calling someone a good boy doesn’t define what the good action was. Whereas if you congratulate them for the specific action and reinforce that behaviour by outlining what positives come from that action, thereby encouraging future similar actions.
There are some times when it is necessary for children to act in certain ways. In these instances it is vita that expectations are stated in a clear but non confrontational manner. An easy example here is “Mum is here to pick you up – it’s time to go home now,” instead of “Do you want to go home?”
It’s a good idea when stating expectations to give the child a reasonable amount of time to respond rather than to expect immediate results. Prepositioning them by stating that it will be time to pack up in five minutes works well.
Creating a secure environment where children feel comfortable seeking help in any matter helps to reduce conflict situations arising as well as promoting confidence and good behavioural actions.
Supervision of children in childcare requires a mix of tolerance, empathy, boundary setting and constant observation. It is important to recognise that as long as children are not disrupting or upsetting others that a certain amount of mess and clutter is perfectly acceptable. Observation is essential to ensure that you are well placed to intervene when necessary.
From a child carer’s perspective acceptable behaviour is engaging with the child, promoting a safe environment and actively working to foster the child’s development.
Examples of unacceptable behaviour in childcare include such unacceptable behaviours as
Hitting, isolating, humiliating, belittling, depriving children of food or drink, negative labelling, blaming and shaming.
A well run childcare centre will have a clear set of guidelines and practices that all staff can follow and practice to ensure uniform behavioural standards are maintained.
Establishing clear defined boundaries and creating an environment that reinforces positive behaviours helps to foster individual children’s social physical and intellectual development. This safe learning environment can help to foster a lifetime love of learning.