Prevention: Indirect Guidance
As you read the list of challenges that cause behavior issues in early childhood programs on the previous page, you may have thought of some ways to prevent these things from creating the problems in the first place. It is possible that your solutions involve indirect guidance techniques. Indirect guidance methods are used to prevent behavior issues when developing the physical environment, class rules, and program content.
Young children are influenced by their environment, the people in it and the physical surroundings. In an early childhood program, children’s behavior is shaped by the physical space, the curriculum and program activities, expectations of the early childhood teachers, and teacher responses to the child’s behavior.
Indirect guidance methods can be divided into four areas.
The physical environment of a classroom provides both cues for appropriate behavior and temptations for inappropriate behavior. A wide open space in a classroom will encourage children to run. A small space with pillows and interesting toys will encourage one or two children to sit down and play with the toys.
Other suggested indirect guidance strategies for the classroom environment include:
Curriculum and Program Schedule
Children with a consistent daily schedule that offers a variety of interesting and fun activities are less likely to misbehave. Consistency is especially important for younger children who form attachments based on developing trusting relationships with teachers.
Set clear and reasonable expectations for acceptable behavior. Provide children with specific boundaries and limits on behavior. Establish class rules stated in positive terms that tell children what to do rather than what not to do. For example: Instead of “No running.” Say “Walk in the classroom. Running is for the playground.”
Recognize and Respond to Children’s Positive Behavior
Recognition of children’s positive behavior can be the most effective method for children to learn positive behaviors. Children need teacher’s support, recognition, and acknowledgement for making the decision to act in an appropriate manner. When teachers use praise, the child learns there are positive consequences for appropriate behaviors. Use effective encouragement that is specific and positive to provide meaningful feedback and help children develop self-esteem. Effective encouragement is sincere, selective, specific, focused on an individual child or small group of children, and used to acknowledge a specific appropriate behavior.
Examples of effective praise:
Examples of ineffective praise:
Adapted from: Positive Guidance Techniques by S.K. Adams and J. Baronberg and School Age Connections (2004).
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