Positive Guidance in Early Childhood
Positive guidance strategies can reduce challenging behaviours and encourage children to achieve success and increase competence, both in a home and childcare setting. Some of these strategies include creating supportive and developmentally appropriate environments, supporting and promoting social and emotional competence, providing and facilitating learning, and engagement support.
What is Positive Guidance?
Positive guidance is a process of guiding children to develop healthy self-esteem, respect for themselves and others, and skills to manage an array of potential stressors. A positive approach includes considering the reasons for children’s challenging behaviour, not just looking at the behaviour itself.
This is the difference between behaviour management strategies and positive guidance. Behaviour management is telling us we need to manage a behaviour. Positive guidance, based on positive mutually respectful relationships between adults and children, is most likely to influence behaviour in constructive ways.
Positive Guidance Strategies
Positive behaviour techniques you can try using at home include:
Find out what is behind the behaviour
Look for the reasons behind behaviour. Remember, behaviour can be a form of communication. Children’s challenging behaviour can often be caused by:
- A lack of information
- Seeking attention – filling a need
- Physical needs, such as fatigue or hunger
- Emotional needs like boredom or fear
If you can find and alleviate the cause, the behaviour typically stops.
Provide clear expectations and communication
Provide clear expectations and structure while allowing for adaptations and change. Children have a sense of security when they know what to expect.
- Counting down to a change in schedule, for example “we are going to go soon so we will pack up the Lego in 5 minutes.”
- Tell your child exactly what you are wanting them to do, rather than what not to do. For example, “Put your Lego in the box and the dinosaurs in the basket ,” is much more helpful than, “Don’t leave a mess with your toys.”
- Let children know when they get things right. “Wow you put your toys away and left the room tidy. You are so helpful.” Provide clear, descriptive encouragement rather than praise, helping your child understand your expectations and building their confidence.
- Allow for natural and logical consequences – this provides opportunities for resilience learning and lifelong skills like taking responsibility. For example, cleaning up when making a mess.
Give your child a choice
Allow for choices – children like to feel autonomous (in control on their own their own affairs). Give them simple choices without too much information to process i.e., “these shorts or these shorts”
You can also divert a behavioural issue by offering two choices. For example, perhaps your child runs away from you. You could say, “You can walk next to me, or I can hold your hand. Which one?” If your child refuses, you gently but firmly make the choice. “Okay, I will help you. I am going to hold your hand.”
Relationships and Self-Care
Children are so in tune to adults’ emotional states even though they do not understand the intricacies of adult life. Try to slow down as much as possible and engage in little moments that cement your relationship and connection, giving them a sense of security.
Keep perspective. It’s easy to become frustrated or worn down by the daily challenges of life. Try to remember that most of these challenges probably won’t matter a month, 6 months, and 6 years. If you’re having a rough day, go for a walk, put on some music, or get out of the house. Sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed. Nothing beats a burst of fresh air!
If all else fails… have a laugh! Sometimes just saying or doing something silly enough to reduce tensions. Laughter, after all is the best medicine. Use humour that’s at the child’s developmental level. Humour should never be mean-spirited or at a child’s expense.
Positive Guidance at Keiki
Positive guidance is an integral part of our educational program at Keiki Early Learning, within both daycare and Outside School Hours Care settings. We take time to look at a child holistically to see where behaviour may originate from. We work in collaboration with families to implement strategies and create a consistent approach between home and the service. Contact your nearest Early Learning school find out more about positive guidance at Keiki.