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Five strategies for reducing challenging behavior

Recently on this blog we discussed how early childhood educators can deal with challenging behaviors in the classroom. We emphasized the importance of following the six steps to conflict resolution. Reducing problematic behavior also requires teachers to identify the triggers that lead children to have negative reactions in the first place. 

Here are some strategies for making your classroom a calmer place:

1. Change the setting.

If a student is upset and starts acting out, encourage them to go to another room or another activity like reading quietly, with you or another teacher.. Make sure the student feels supported, but also understands why you pulled him or her aside. Different situations require a different response on your part. For example, if the student is over-stimulated by an activity, you might suggest that the child focus on one activity at a time. Similarly you may decide to put a limit on how many children can be at a particular learning station. 

2. Respond calmly. 

Responding calmly to challenging behavior is one of the most useful steps you can take in these situations. Take a few moments to pause before deciding how you will deal with the behavior and help the child return to the classroom's activities. 

Teach alternate behaviors.

Mirroring positive behavior yourself can help children learn more appropriate means of expressing their wants and needs. If a child has trouble sharing with his or her classmates, explain that they should ask to borrow items, rather than just taking them (i.e. "Can I read that book with you, or can I see it after you're done?"). 

3. Give your students choice.

Children relish the opportunity to make their own choices. Try to offer students options in terms of the activities. This way, children will also learn more about what they enjoy, as well as discover new areas of interest.

4. Notice the positive, and offer students encouragement. 

Offering students genuine praise for positive behavior has a ripple effect, as the act of recognition boosts their confidence and desire to continue along this path. 

5. Practice consistency in your classroom.

Establishing consistent routines helps students feel less anxious. It also reinforces that there are certain group expectations you have for the class as a whole. Accordingly, it is important to practice consistency, both in terms of making these activities (i.e. handwashing, naptime) a part of your daily routine and ensuring that all children participate in them.

For more classroom and teaching resources, refer to ProSolutions Training's course menu. We also offer continuing education for working professionals in the fields of early care, education and social services. This includes both a CDA Course (120 course hours) and a CDA Renewal Course (45 course hours) for early care and education professionals seeking the CDA Credential (the Child Development Associate (CDA) National Credentialing Program™).