28 Ağustos 2011 Pazar

Challenging Behavior in Young Children


In this work, there are 5 incidents, their analyses, and final thoughts. Because it is summer term, at Bogazici Campus Yuva students generally were in their out-door activity time. Whenever I went to the Yuva (which had only 3-year-old students); all students, all teachers, and all caregivers have been in the garden for 3 hours (from 9 to 12 O’clock). As a result, teachers in the logs are not the same because a teacher cared with the students who are from both of her own class and other class. Because there were many teachers, I did not state the teacher’s names but state the student’s names.

1. Log

Incident: All students who are 3-year-old children and their teacher are in the classroom. It is the sleeping time. Students go to their bed at 12 o’clock. It is 12:20, however Ali is not sleeping. He turns in his bed and sometimes speaks quietly by himself. Teacher realizes that Ali is not sleeping. She yells to Ali: “Ali, will you close your eyes and sleep, please?” The volume of teacher’s voice is too high and some students are disturbed by teacher’s loud voice and move in their beds. Ali only looks at the teacher and does not give any reaction. He does not close his eyes and continues not to sleep.

Analyzing: In this incident, teacher’s behavior is not appropriate. She should not yell to Ali for he cannot sleep. It may affect Ali’s social-emotional development in a negative way. Instead of yelling, she should think about the reason of why he cannot sleep. What can be the explanation of Ali’s behavior? He may not like sleep or may not be tired. He may want the teacher’s attention, be bored, and not know how to calm self to sleep. For a child, these are normal. Teacher can prevent this behavior before this challenging behavior occurs: 1.by allowing Ali to look at a book or to do a quiet activity while staying on a carpet, 2.by providing him with a series of items to play with or look at for the length of nap time, 3.by taking a group of children who do not nap and allow them to do quiet activity supervised by another adult, 4.by writing a simple story about nap time, 5.by playing relaxing music, 6.by allowing Ali to bring a favorite sleep item from home (stuffed animal, pillow etc.), 7.by placing Ali near herself and away from other children to prevent him from disturbing others, 8.by trying to darken the room or the children’s nap area, 9. By scheduling a fun activity after nap and by reminding Ali of favorite or fun activity that comes next etc. These strategies are related to physical environment in the classroom, also. In addition, they can be applied in the moment of Ali behaves in a challenging way; also before & after the challenging behavior occurs.

2. Log

Incident: It is the out-door activity time and the students who are 3-year-old children are playing together under their teacher’s observation. One of the students, Umutcan, takes a toy from the ground and starts to play. The teacher comes and sits next to him. She tries to take the toy from Umutcan, she behaves like a child. She says: “Bana ne! I will take the toy! It will be mine!” Umutcan is getting angry and does not want to give his toys to the teacher. This situation runs for a long time and finally teacher gives up and says: “Well, you are going to play this car.” Umutcan now has his toy and goes from there with it.

Analyzing: In this incident, I cannot have any success to understand what teacher is trying to do. Does she try to teach Umutcan that if he has a conflict with his friend, how should he behave? Or does she only enjoy with him? 1-) If she tries to teach Umutcan, her way may not be appropriate because teacher’s reaction is not right: “Bana ne! I will take the toy!” Instead of behaving like a child; teacher should provide multiples of same items/activities that have high child preference, also she should use a timer when necessary to indicate turns, she should wait for her turn when she wants an object/activity and she should remind to ask/gesture to join in play (“Can I play?” or “My turn”), she should use “first-then” visual cards “first ask, then play”, and she should use a “my turn” visual reminder chart for highly preferred objects/activities. In addition if Umutcan continues to want objects/activity that another child is using; teacher can remind him to ask/gesture to play and to ask/gesture for a turn, can offer alternate activity/toy and she can remind him of when his turn is on the “my turn” chart. 2-) If teacher only wants to have some fun with Umutcan, she should not forget that children will learn by imitating adults. After teacher says to Umutcan: ” Bana ne! I will take the toy!”; he learns this behavior and when he has the same conflict with a friend of him, he will probably behave like the teacher. Finally, he gets a challenging behavior because of the teacher.

3. Log

Incident: Alp is playing a toy in the garden. Ceren comes next to him and says: “Give it to me!” She tries to take the toy from Alp without waiting for his answer. He does not give his toy. They get angry. Both of their hands are on the toy. Teacher comes. She states at the level of children’s eyes, asks:“What is happening? What is the problem?” Ceren answers:“Alp does not give the toys to me!” Teacher asks:“Who was playing this toy?” Alp answers:“Me! I was playing it!” Teacher asks to Ceren the same question. Ceren answers:“Alp was playing it.” Teacher tells to Ceren:“Do you remember our rule? We should not take the toys from our friend’s hand without permission. You should wait for your turn. After Alp finishes playing the toy, you will play it.” Ceren says:“Okay, I will wait.” Then, Alp plays the toy for a little time and looks at Ceren’s face. Ceren this time asks to Alp:“Can I take the toy to play?” Alp answers:“Yes, you can.” Teacher says:“Both of you did well. Ceren, you should thank Alp.” Ceren thanks Alp and starts to play the toy.

Analyzing: This incident is a common one among children. So, teachers should know what to do. I think, in this incident, the reaction of teacher is not totally wrong. She follows the right steps. Firstly she comes, cowers at the Alp and Ceren’s eye level, and asks two of them about the problem. After, she listens both of them and encourages them to talk. Finally, the problem is solved and teacher praises both of Alp and Ceren due to their good behaviors. However, a point takes my attention: She uses negative statement by saying that “we should not take the toys from our friend’s hand without permission.” Instead of this sentences, it will be better that “we should take the toys from our friends when they finish playing it.” That’s to say, she should use positive statement. In addition; teacher should make a “my turn” card for toys or items that are highly preferred, she should set a timer, she should count so the child will know when his/her turn is coming up next, (depending on the toy), she should use first-then visual signal (“first ____’s turn, then your turn”), and points to each child as phrase is spoken, she plans to go with the child to the center to teach turn taking; (by using short turns to teach turn taking). Also, she can use “Turtle Technique” with visuals and puppet to discuss and model.

4. Log

Incident: One of the students, Serdar who is a 3-year-old child, is playing in the garden with his friends. There is no problem among them; they are getting well each other. Serdar’s teacher comes next to him. She catches and takes him in her arms. She starts to kiss Serdar. After she kisses Serdar, she starts to bit him in a soft way (without giving no pain him). She says: “I want to bit this child. Will I bit you, ha?” Serdar answers: “No, No!” He gets sort of frightened. Then, teacher puts Serdar on the ground and he runs to another way quickly.

Analyzing: It can be seen that the example which is above does not have any child’s challenging behavior. Here, I want to focus on the teacher’s teaching strategies before a challenging behavior occurs. As it is known, children imitate adults in order to fit in or because they think it is appropriate to do so. Also, “an adult does something incorrectly” can make it harder for a child to do it correctly. In the incident, of course the teacher does not mean to give pain to Serdar. She enjoys with him. She knows and understands that it is just a joke. However, Serdar is just 3 years old and he may not understand the teacher’s intention. Then; he will imitate what the teacher is doing. Finally, he may start with biting his classmates, friends, siblings, or parents. I think; Serdar does not understand teacher’s intention, because He does not smile while the teacher is enjoying with him by doing as if she is biting him. I see that he has afraid. In other words, he does not like teacher’s joke.

Especially in Turkey, caregivers kiss the children as if they are biting them. It is a traditional “loving baby style” among people in Turkey. It may be because of the collectivistic culture, I do not know. In some aspects, it will be normal that an uneducated or uncultivated adult (about Early Childhood Education) kisses a child as if the adult is biting the child. Many adults are doing something related to children in a wrong way without realizing, knowing. However if an expert (in ECD) does this behavior, it will be surprising I think.

5. Log

Incident: It is the out-door activity time and children are playing in the garden. At this time, Hazal comes to the class with her parent. She is crying because she does not want to live her family. Her mother and father cannot stop her crying. Her teacher takes her and says:”Hazal, say goodbye mom and dad!” Teacher and Hazal goes into the school. After a short time, they turn back. Hazal’s face is wet so we understand that teacher has just washed her face to make her calm. Finally; she stops crying, sits down and starts to watch her friends who are playing.

Analyzing: Child’s crying because of not to want to leave his/her parent is one of the common challenging behaviors. I think, by having parent drop child at the door (or designated drop off area), and by saying a quick “good bye” and “see you after school”, Hazal’s parent and teacher behaves in an appropriate way, I think. There may be other strategies: Teacher and parents should use “I Go to Preschool” story (at both home and school). Teacher should comfort and reassure Hazal that someone (mommy or daddy) will pick her up after school by saying “You’ll
see mom or dad after school”; she should allow Hazal to bring a comfort item from home, and hold it during day; she should provide a fun job as Hazal comes into the garden; she should have a peer buddy from class greet Hazal each day if she cries always when her parent leaving the Yuva; she should put a picture of caregiver on a visual schedule so that Hazal can predict when she will be picked up from school; she should tell Hazal to say/gesture good bye to her parent while waving (and vice versa); she should help Hazal inside classroom. 

General guidelines about children's challenging behavior

As I become a preschool teacher in the future, I should follow some steps which are so beneficial for my classroom’s management. It will help me about putting the certain obstacles in front of the some of the students’ challenging behavior.

Firstly, I should organize a high quality supportive environment for my students. Before I determine about challenging behaviors in my classroom, it is necessary to make sure the classroom and schedule are set appropriately to meet the needs of my students.

A quality early childhood program should give an appropriate physical environment for children. It will also provide an appropriate schedule that may need to be prepared to meet the needs of the children. After building a sound foundation, I will monitor my classroom. For instance; if children are running around the class, I may need to see if the furniture arrangement could be adjusted to reduce runways. Or; if children are fighting in one center and not another, I can make the maximum of the number of children in each area or make a particular area bigger. Instead of focusing on those "Naughty" children, I should ask myself: What I could do differently to address the issues?

I can be fortunate to have some pieces of furniture on casters in my classroom. If an area suddenly became popular, I can just wheel the furniture back a little to make that center bigger. In any case, I should be flexible with my schedule and physical environment.

If children are not becoming involved in play but constantly moving from center to center look at two things:

1. Is play time long enough?
2. Also I should take a look at the available materials. Do the available materials match the needs and interests of the children?

Secondly, I should have nurturing and responsive relationships with my students. The children who may be at risk of challenging behavior may need a little more guidance than the group as a whole. These children may need extra warnings before transitions, visuals such as lines or footsteps on the floor showing them where to line up.

In my class, rules should be posted in more than one place in the classroom. I should use pictures and words for the rules and should talk about the rules often, especially with those children needing extra support. Also, I may want to use a social/emotional curriculum in addition to the general curriculum I have chosen for my program. At this level, I will want to actually teach social/emotional skills. I can use books, emotion posters, puppets, etc. to teach about feelings, empathy, and anger management. It is best not to single children out for the more intense teaching but I should make sure they are included in the presentations as much as possible.

Thirdly, I should focus on an individual and very intense in nature. In this case, parents and I should form a team to assess the challenging behavior. We can gather information using observations, and also we will discuss setting events which would include things like: a child's health, family problems such as divorce or death in the family, or lack of sleep. We can also talk about:

1. What happened just before the challenging behavior?
2. What was the behavior?
3. What happened? Then how did others react?
4. How did the teachers or parents react? What did the child gain from the behavior?

I will use positive behavior support to address the behavior. I should make my best guess about the purpose for this communication and then address it. What brings on the behavior? Is there something I can do to prevent the behavior? Maybe the activities, expectations, or schedule do not match this child at his level of development.

It may take some time before I am able to recognize the causes of the challenging behavior. Unfortunately, there may be some behaviors that I may not be able to understand as they may be some parts of the mystery of challenging behaviors. Finally, it is very important to have a care team that accepts these steps, which I have pointed out above, to behaviors as well. Understanding challenging behaviors will be a useful key to meet my students’ needs and my needs as a teacher.

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