Behavior management of children in a child care setting must be consistent and compassionate. All staff must be trained in the same manner and enforce the behavior modification policies and practices in a uniform way. The children must be informed of the rules and regulations and when they will be applied. One standard should apply at all times to all children. Warnings, actions and consequences need to be staggered and explained.
List of Warnings and Consequences
A list of warnings, actions and consequences should be posted in the child care center and sent home to each parent. The first time an inappropriate action is observed, a child care provider should address the situation with the children involved. She should interrupt the inappropriate activity, ask the children to stop doing it and explain to them why. It is important to verify that each child understands what he did wrong and why he cannot continue that action.
After the first general warning, the child care provider will need to speak individually to each child that continues the inappropriate behavior. It helps to kneel down to the child's height, make direct eye contact and address the child by name. Remind the child that the activity is not allowed, that you already gave him a warning and that he continued the activity. Explain that the consequence for continuing the activity is a time out or quiet time away from the others so he can think about what he did wrong.
Positive Reinforcement for Defensive Children
A child who becomes angry or defensive may be used to negative reinforcement at this stage. Positive reinforcement can be used more effectively. A child care worker should acknowledge the child's feelings and move the child in another direction. She can offer a drink of water, a quiet space to sit down or a tissue or hug if appropriate. She can reinforce why the behavior was inappropriate after the child has calmed down and is able to listen.
Time Out and Future Consequences
After a warning and time out, the child should be shown the list of consequences and it should be explained to him where the inappropriate behavior will lead. A young child can be shown the list in pictures. The visual aid can be used to show the child what he did wrong. Point to illustrations and explain that this is what you did wrong, this is when you were in a time out, this is the action repeated, this is a visit to the principal's office and this is the note home to mom and dad. This chart will show the stages at which behavior modification is used.
New Plan for a New Activity
Behavior modification may be more effective when the child is directly removed from the situation after the waring and time out. The child should not be isolated from all activities, but instead may be asked to use the time out period to make a new plan for a new activity. A child care provider can kneel down by the child, explain his time out for the inappropriate activity is over and ask the child for his new plan. The new plan can be approved or redirected, with an explanation of why that is a good plan or why the plan will not work.
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