Most early childhood educators would agree that it’s important to lead young children toward good classroom behavior. They may also enjoy learning and interacting with others more; and, be less troublesome as a result.
3 strategies to promote positive classroom behavior in children from birth to five:
1. Be proactive
Children can be highly curious and creative, so it’s nearly impossible to prevent all disruptive behavior. However, there are many useful steps instructors can take to mitigate potential issues before they arise. A great way to be proactive is to establish rules and provide reminders every once in a while – especially for children new to the program. These may include prompting kids to:
• Clean up their toys
• Be nice to their peers
• Say “please” and “thank you”
• Help each other
2. Focus on the “do,” not the “don’t”
Many times, educators get into the habit of telling children under their care to “stop” doing something rather than redirect them toward acceptable behavior. Instead of telling them what they “should not” do, they should concentrate on what they “should do” instead. To do this, they need to pay attention to what they are saying and make sure to keep their words are concise and clear. For example, say “Use your quiet voice” rather than “Stop shouting.”
3. Reward good behavior
Many children, at a young age, want to know that the adults around them are paying attention. Make an effort to catch them when they are being good instead of primarily interacting with them when they misbehave. Talk to children, listen to their concerns and ideas, and comment on something great they have done that day. Make them feel heard and appreciated, and they may find less of a reason to act up.
An early education classroom that reinforces positive behavior is a beneficial developmental environment for both children and the educator. Proactively developing positive classroom behavior will lessen the burden of trying to improve negative behavior from children. An educator needs to be sure to offer helpful alternatives to unwanted behavior rather than solely stating commands that are begging to be disobeyed. Educators also need to be sure to notice the good behavior of their students and appreciate it verbally in front of others. If these steps are followed, an unruly classroom can make the transition to a well-behaved learning powerhouse.