Behavior management has many different definitions. Not every technique works with every child and every family. Being consistent with your approach at a young age helps management of behaviors easier. Children thrive with consistency and boundaries. Starting a good routine before there is a behavior issue will make dealing with that behavior much easier.
Time outs have been a method of behavior management for a very long time. The downside of time out is many times it provides children with no lesson learned only a moment to cool down. If we want children to change the behavior, they need to understand why they are being excluded from the group, not just a moment to recoup. In order to teach a child how to regulate their mood and the inappropriate behaviors there needs to be conversation.
At a very young age we need to use the words of emotions and acknowledge children’s feelings. We need to have more conversations with children, so they learn how to talk about feelings and how it relates to the behavior.
Redirection is a method you direct young children to something else before a problem pops up. Redirection requires close supervision by teachers or parent to see an altercation coming, like two children who both want to play with the same doll, redirecting one to a different doll or toy in that area.
Children do not learn how to cooperatively play and sharing before four years old so being on top of these potential conflicts will happen as children are naturally very egocentric. In the child care environment we try to have multiples of popular toys, but fights and struggles over toys still happens.
Communication is key in any successful relationship. As teacher and parents, the same concept works when raising and guiding children. If children understand what is expected of them in a situation, they will be less likely to act in a way you do not desire. When we give children, direction is needs to be positive, clear and as short as possible.
Giving specific directions, versus a blanket statement like “be good” is what we should be doing. Telling a child “be good” may mean twenty different things to twenty different children. Our goal is to guide then and not confuse them. We need to be specific, for instance, keep your hands to yourself, don’t throw toys, or please keep the crayons on the table.
The goal with behavior management is to teach children self-control and the ability to understand their own emotions. This needs to start young with the verbal social emotional lessons of one’s emotions. Children will understand their behaviors better if they understand how they are feeling.
Recognizing good behavior is another key in behavior management. Catching them doing good and kind things help model your expectations. Giving choices is another great way to effectively get the behavioral results we ultimately want.