Staff Training: Behavior Management Strategies
OFLC BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT POLICY
Our Future Learning Center, Inc. and our staff provide a consistent, nurturing and supportive atmosphere for all the children we care for. We base all behavior management on development levels and safety concerns. Our behavior management policies provide positive and consistent guidance to children based on their individual needs and development. Our basic behavior management techniques include, but are not limited to: Redirection-giving children suggestions or directions in a positive manner on what the right way to behave would be. Giving children choices, allow them to feel in control. Being specific about setting limits and the rules of the classroom. Focusing on the positive and giving attention to those behaviors that are acceptable. Encouraging independence and setting positive examples ourselves.
Verbal communication will be used at all times. The following practices are strictly prohibited:
*corporal punishment shall not be used, including spanking.
*no child shall be subjected to cruel or severe punishment such as humiliation, verbal or physical abuse, neglect, or abusive treatment including any type of physical hitting inflicted in any manner upon the body, shaking, threats, or derogatory remarks.
*no child shall be deprived of outdoor time, meals or snacks. No child will be force fed or otherwise making them eat against their will, or in any way using food as a consequence.
*no child shall be punished for soiling, wetting, or not using the toilet. No child will be forced to remain in soiled clothing or to remain on the toilet, or using any other unusual or excessive practices for toileting.
*no child will be confined to a swing, high chair, crib, playpen or any other piece of equipment for an extended period of time in lieu of supervision.
*no child will be subjected to excessive time-out. Time-out may not exceed one minute for each year of the child’s age and must take place within an educator’s view.
We believe that the behavior management plan at Our Future Learning Center, Inc. is a positive and consistent experience for children that will allow them to gain control, experience and understanding for now and also in their future. Where appropriate and feasible, children shall participate in the establishment for such rules, policies and procedures.
12 Techniques to Shape Children’s Behavior:
- Praise– Children want to please you and are looking for your approval. An example of what we are looking for is “You did a great job of cleaning up the crayons, or I like the way that you used a lot of color in your picture.” Reinforcing the traits and behaviors that are desirable to you. Be genuine. Use visual signals such as a thumb’s up or give a high five to show them how pleased you are. Send home a special note in their lunch box of a child letting them know what a great job that they did. Every one likes a little surprise! Acknowledge the expected behavior without gushing praise. Watch for the child’s body language to see if you need to give praise. If they do what you ask of them and are eager to tell you or show you what they did, they need praise. If they do it and move on, it may not need that positive reinforcement at that time. Use the art of complimenting. Help to teach the children in your class how to give and receive compliments. “Look how pretty you look in that dress!” Use body language and eye contact to make your compliment sincere. Acknowledge your own praises to the children or your co-teachers to teach them about compliments and positive self esteem. The ultimate goal of discipline is self- discipline- inner motivation. We praise to shape behavior to set conditions that help children know how and when to praise themselves.
- Expect Good Behavior– Treat them as if they are going to choose the desired result. Give them the message that they are doing exactly what you expect. Sometimes this is all you need to break the undesired behavior. When you don’t expect obedience, you most likely won’t get it.
- Selective Ignoring– You have to pick and choose your battles. Ignore the small items address the bigger items, especially safety concerns. If two of your children are arguing over something, you can respond by saying “You are in Preschool two; we don’t need to argue over something small like that. That is silly!” and then walk away and try to have them solve the problem themselves. Obviously keep an eye on them to make sure that it doesn’t turn into a safety concern. This works best when you have been reinforcing the positive behaviors. You are ignoring the behavior, not the child.
- Help Teach the Children that Choices Have Consequences– Experiencing the consequences of their choices is one of the most effective ways that children can learn self-discipline. Being able to think ahead about the positive and negative consequences of an action and to choose accordingly is a goal we need to help them learn. We are to protect them so that they don’t get seriously hurt, but with reason and safe limits, we let them explore, fail, bump and learn. Expect your children to help clean up their messes. Children learn better from learning from their own mistakes, we call these teachable moments– balancing the negative with the positive. For example- teaching the children that the toys have a particular spot on the shelf, so that it is easy to find them again. When they want the dinosaurs, they know where to find them. It creates a nice feeling while learning valuable lessons.
- Motivators and Rewards– We all behave according to the pleasure principle- behavior that is rewarded either negatively or positively continues; behavior that is unrewarded ceases. For example- First one to clean up their center gets to choose a book to read before lunch. Our ultimate goal is to teach self discipline.
- Using jars or motivation charts are good to entice the children to achieve the desired result, but helping them to learn how good it feels to achieve the goal is more important the reward itself. Charts and jars help the children to see what the desired goal is. Charts are to be interactive and fun. As you weed out undesirable behaviors one by one, the child gradually gets used to the feelings that come with good behavior and then in turn these feelings become motivating. With charts & jars- keep it simple and make it fun! To get the children involved, have them help you design and make the chart and the rules to achieve the goal. The more they are involved, the more rewarding and productive it will be! Keep the chart out and down at the child’s level so that they can see their progress and it can be a reminder of what their goal is. Just remember to keep the time span short so that they have a chance to achieve the goal without loosing interest. You can use happy and sad face stickers so that the child can see after the task is done that they did what was expected or not. If the happy faces out number the sad faces at the end of the time period, then the child gets the reward. Novelty wears off quickly, so change up how you do charts.
- Reminders– Children make comments like “I forgot” or “I didn’t know that I was supposed to do that”. From an adult point of view, this sounds lame, but for a child they do forget and they need reminders to keep on track. Saying to a child, “You know better, or to make a noise when they are about to do something can be enough to jog their memory and to help them to refocus. Sometimes a look can be enough. What we are teaching is little reminders of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to help them make good choices.
- The Art of Negotiating– Bargaining with a child does not compromise your authority but strengthens it. Children respect adults who are willing to really listen to them. Negotiating is a win-win situation that benefits both you as the teacher and the children. By negotiating we show that we are approachable and are willing to open up to another’s view point. Everyone, including children want to be respected and have their feelings validated. Sometimes it is important to let the child take the lead. If they are adamant that they want to play blocks, but you want them to sit for circle, have them help you come up with a plan so that they get what they want, time at the block area, but you still get them to sit for circle. You may have to alter your ideas and views to meet them for a solution, but they can surprise you with some great alternatives to solving a problem or coming up with a solution that you haven’t even thought about. There are times that you have to break off the negotiation because they can‘t calm themselves down or it isn’t reasonable, and that is okay too, you are the adult. They also need to know that you are in charge and you mean business. It is best to stay calm and be peaceful and not be heated when working together. “I don’t’ like the way that you are talking to me, I am happy to talk with you once you have calmed your body.” When you are not sure, or feeling pressured, decide not to decide.
- Withdrawing Privileges– Children always want something from us, so this is a tool to that you can use, but if you are going to use it, you need to follow through with it so that they know that you mean business. This technique naturally connects the privilege withdrawal with the behavior. Your withdrawal must be connected with the actual situation. If you continue to throw blocks, you can not play in blocks the rest of the day. To say to the child, if you throw blocks, you can’t use the computer is not connecting the action to the consequence. This would not be as effective.
- Negative Comments– “Watch where you are going” “What are you doing?” These types of comments are negative and tear down the child’s self worth. These comments do not improve behavior bur actually worsens the situation. Repeating commands makes children nervous. Some children exhibit more than their fair share of negative behavior, bur constantly reminding them of it heightens the problem and creates more negative behavior. The best thing to do is to focus on positive features such as “I really liked how you sat in your chair today and kept the feet on the floor.” “I really like the way that you cleaned up blocks without being asked.” The more you focus on the child’s strengths, the negatives will melt away. If you continue to talk or to repeat the advice that you have given, you are telling the other person that you don’t trust that it will be done. Set clear expectations such as “When you are done with your sippy cup, please put it in the sink.”
- Have A Class Meeting– This meeting can be to set up classroom rules and expectations. At circle time for instance, the group should be relaxed and ready to listen. When you are making up rules or expectations when you are frustrated, then you are likely to be unfair or that the children will not follow through. This is a good way for you and the children to gather to express your concerns and to get on the same page. If you have a specific problem with a child, this should be addressed separately. If you have a problem such as the children don’t pick up the toys before moving on to a new area, have a talk with all of them to come up with ways to get the room clean.
- Re-Direction– When a child is having a hard time playing in an area, or calming their body in a current situation, we expect you to intervene and use redirection. Offer the child two choices that will keep them safe and be productive. “Right now blocks aren’t working for you, you have the choice to go to the table and do the art project, or you can go to the cozy corner and read some books and calm your body.” Once you have given them the two choices you need to follow through unless they come up with a plan that is desirable to you. If they are unable to make their choice, you then choose for them to calm their body in the cozy corner for instance. They should be reassured that once they have calmed down that they are more than welcome to re-join in activities. A child is not asked to calm their bodies for longer than they are old. If a child can not stay in the cozy corner and calm their bodies (they keep getting up), you can re-assure them that they need to sit for 2 minutes, for instance, and then you are happy to have them join back in, but they must sit for the 2 minutes. Once a child has calmed down, you need to follow through with them explaining why it was important for them to calm their bodies and why they had to leave their original area. Children are smart and know what you are saying. If they are unable to achieve desired result of calming down, you are to contact the office for support. If you have a child which continues to be challenging, we want to know about it so that not only can we support you, but if the undesirable behavior continues, we can contact the parents. Our goal is to get the child the support that they need and to teach them techniques to thrive once they move on from OFLC.
- Being a Mandated Reporter-Working in childcare, it is your responsibility to inform Dan and I of anything that doesn’t feel right when it comes to the well being of a child. You also have the right to file a 51A directly with EEC, but if you are going to the state, you must be 100% clear that you know something is going on, for no one, especially a parent, wants to be wrongly accused of harming a child. Please come and see Dan and or I immediately with any concerns that you have. Our first priority is the safety and well-being of the children in our care. If you are not comfortable telling us what you perceive is going on, put it in the suggestion box in the kitchen, or put it under the office door and we will investigate it. We don’t want you to be afraid to talk to us, or to feel intimidated by another individual in the building that you would choose not to say anything for you don’t want it to come back to haunt you. The children always come first!
Suggestions for effective Behavior Management:
-Your classroom needs to be well organized and supplies and toys need to be clearly labeled (pictures work great for this)
-Reduce clutter and minimize distractions
-Have communal supplies so that they can be easily identified and retrieved
Rules and Routines & Ideas-
-Use colorful words and pictures, develop a set of classroom rules and after discussing it, post them in the classroom at the child’s level. Revisit it frequently and reinforce your rules throughout the day.
-Forewarn, teach and coach through transition times. Your children need to have the opportunity to prepare for the next activity so that they feel that they are in control of their lives.
-Be consistent in all areas. Children feel more secure when they know what to expect or what comes next. In toddlers you might want to make a picture board so that the children know what comes next for example.
-Provide small groupings as much as possible so that the children have choices.
-Make sure that the rules and expectations (such as walking down to the gym, or in the gym for example) are clearly defined and understood. Your rules for the gym might be different than your classroom rules due to being able to run for example.
-Your instructions need to be clear and direct.
-Use hands on instructions, imaginary play, music and movement to get their attention and to have them move between transitions.
-Mix up quiet times with busy noisy times to create a balance throughout the day.
-Remember that temper-tantrums are a normal part of child development. It is your job to help them pull out if it in a productive and quick manner that promotes positive self esteem.
-Validate their feelings/help them work through their feelings. The younger they are the shorter the phrases should be “Hitting hurts!” “I understand that you are angry that she took your book.” “You are really upset right now aren’t you.” “I am unhappy with your choices, but I still like you.” Validate that it is the choice that you don’t like not the person.
-Always get down at their level.
-Always give them a second chance, this is how they can show you what they learned. Even a small step in your eyes can be huge for the child. If they usually hit 7 times a day and today they only hit 3 times, this is little steps to showing positive behavior.
-Using “1, 2, 3, eyes on Me., and have the children repeat back to you 1, 2 Eyes on You?
-If they children are having a hard time putting their shoes back on after going to the gym, you can pretend you are the prince and you have to try on different shoes to see who the princess is for example. This makes it a game and usually will get you the desired results of getting their shoes on.
-The more silly that you are and the more games that you play; the more engaged the children will be.
-Take an old pair of jeans, sew the bottom of the legs shut and stuff it with batting. Then Velcro (so that you can easily wash) the top shut to make a “lap pillow”. This way the children always have a lap to sit on.
-Tattling- Tell the turtle. Make a large turtle, for example, on the wall that is at the height of the children’s eyes. If a child needs to tattle, they can go over and tell the turtle. Or you can have a tattle box or tattle monster, etc.
-Tattle tell Thursday- Talk about the days of the week and have the children save up their tattles until Thursday. They can tattle as much as they want on this day, and if it isn’t Thursday, they can be reminded to wait until then. Obviously listen for safety concerns, but this should stop or slow down all of the silly little tattles.
-Give children only two choices, but be clear. You can sit on the floor or sit in a chair, which choice would you like? Children like to be in control of their choices.
-Play a rhythm game to get your children to focus. Clap your hands or knees in a rhythm pattern to get their attention. If you change it up all of the time, the children are intrigued. How many times you clap, clap your legs then your hands, etc. As the children are joining in, it will get all of the children’s attention to join in.
-Use a timer, flash the lights, etc.
-Have a puzzle table, and when a child is having trouble keeping their hands to themselves, have them sit with another child and work as a team to problem solve. Once they are done working together, go over and talk about making right choices.
-Purchase a small mouse and have the children make a house for the mouse. Introduce the mouse to your friends. Point out how it has large ears and during circle time every one needs to be very, very quiet so that she can hear the story. Have a child hold the mouse during story time and when the children are getting too loud, ask the child holding the mouse “How does “Samantha” like story time?, Quiet, that’s right!
-Use labels in your different centers as a management system for the children to move from one area to the other, so that you are setting limits on how many children can be in one area, but are also providing visual cues for them to follow.
-Create bears using a honey pot for instance. Catch the children doing great things/behaviors and then reward them with a stick that goes into their honey pot. When they achieve 5 sticks for example, they get to choose from the prize box. It is good to go over the good behaviors at the end of these 5 sticks showing the children all of the good things/behaviors that you have caught them doing.
-Using behavior bears to recognize good choices being made. Have a pocket chart at the child’s level and each child get a pocket. In a special box, have colored bears (enough for each color for every child). Have a sign saying “Today the teacher saw me..” and a set of bears that are the same colors as the ones in the box. Each color represents a desired behavior that you want your children to learn, sitting quietly, using your words to work things out, putting toys away, keeping hands to myself, etc. Then as you witness a child doing one of these behaviors, they get to go to the treasure box and get the right bear out of the pocket. Spend time with the children individually and as a group talking about what the different bears mean, and before long they get the idea that they have to DO the specific things for them to earn the bears. It also helps with name and color recognition.
-If you are struggling with transitions in your room, let me know and we can have our next training be on Transitions.
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Please sign, agreeing that you have read and understand the OFLC behavior management policy.