Saturday, February 14, 2015

Basic Tips Child Care Providers Can Use to Guide Children's Behavior

  • Keep rules simple and easy to understand. Discuss rules with children and write them down. Consider children’s suggestions for rules. Repeat the rules often. A few rules that work well with children include:
    • Help each other.
    • Take care of our toys.
    • Say please and thank you.
    • Be kind to each other.
Say what you mean. Use "do" instead of "don't" whenever possible. Choose your words carefully, especially when you are guiding children's behavior. Keep sentences short and simple. Focus on what to do rather than what not to do.
  • Try saying, "Slow down and walk" instead of "stop running."
  • Try saying, "Come hold my hand" instead of "don’t touch anything."
  • Try saying, "Keep your feet on the floor" instead of "don’t climb on the table."
  • Try saying, "Use a quiet voice inside" instead of "stop shouting.

  • Show respect for children. Talk to children about misbehavior in private, rather than in front of others. Remind them of reasons for rules, and discuss what they can do differently.
  • Catch children being good. All children want attention. It is better to give them positive attention for good behavior than negative attention for misbehavior. Comment on something positive about each child, each day. Better yet, strive for several times a day. And share the good news. When children have done something positive, mention it to other children and to parents.
  • Encourage like a good coach instead of a cheerleader. A cheerleader just shouts general praise: “What a great job!” or “What a beautiful picture.” A good coach tells you what you’re doing right, uses praise as a teaching tool, and lets you know why he or she is proud of you. If a child sets the table, you might say, “You did such a good job setting the table! You put the spoons and forks in the right place and remembered the napkins!” When you look at a child’s painting, you might remark, “This painting just glows with color. You used blue, green, red, yellow, and orange. Tell me how you did this!” To learn more about the difference between praise and encouragement, see Encouragement Is More Effective Than Praise in Guiding Children's Behavior.

  • Teach children how to apologize. Learning how to apologize is a skill. Young children have a hard time understanding another child’s feelings, but by the time they are 4 years old they should begin to recognize that apologizing is a good way to make up for hurting someone else. Keep it simple (e.g., "Lucas, I'm sorry I hit you.") With time and practice, children will not have to be prompted, and their apology will be more genuine. Teach preschoolers and school-age children the four basic steps of apologizing:
    • Look at the other child
    • Say the child’s name
    • Say “I’m sorry”
    • Say why
  • Teach children how to correct their misbehavior. If a child throws food onto the floor give him a broom and show him how to clean it up. If a child draws on the wall, give her a wet cloth to clean the wall. Even if the child cannot successfully clean up the entire mess alone, participating in clean-up teaches him that his actions have consequences. Over time, experiencing consequences helps children learn self-control.