Positive Guidance Techniques At CCLC we encourage guardians to use similar techniques at home that we use at school. This helps children make a smooth transition between home and school. Please discuss these techniques with your child’s teacher and share additional tactics you use at home to help your child succeed. Prevention is the first step
Children need developmentally appropriate, clear, and consistent limits to feel safe and secure. Consistency is the key.
Utilize deep breathing exercises, counting slowly to 10, tensing and relaxing body parts and stretching to calm and teach positive coping skills.
Keep your tone of voice calm and respectful. Role model the eye contact, facial expressions, body language and listening ears you want from them.
Use positive language with children by telling them what they should do instead of what they should not do:
Give children opportunities throughout the day to make their own choices:
It’s time to pick out a new toothbrush. Which would you like from these options?
Do you feel like macaroni or a sandwich for dinner?
Which of these two books would you like to read?
Evaluate your environment to ensure it is conducive for behavioral success:
It looks like you are getting frustrated with this puzzle. Would you like help?
If there is a toy the kids often argue about make sure to have at least two of that toy or only bring it out when you are able to monitor them taking turns with it.
Ensure the environment is clean and orderly with well thought out, age appropriate activities designed to keep children actively engaged and learning.
Role model the behavior and coping skills you wish to see in your child:
When you get upset because another car cuts you off, do you yell or do you take a deep breath and think about a time when you accidentally cut someone off?
Your child is watching you for how they should behave. Saying, "Do as I say and not as I do" does not work! If you want a polite child- be polite.
If you desire a calm, respectful and productive environment for your child, you must be calm, respectful and productive.
Children feed off the energy we as adults convey. If we are stressed, they are stressed. If we are loud, they are loud. Whisper to get a child’s attention.
Offer leadership opportunities or any activities that the child enjoys throughout out the day to encourage good behavior and to create many opportunities to excel.
Make the child your “super helper”
Have art and sensory activities available to redirect toward before negative behavior escalates.
Have transitions and routines so that children know what to expect:
Give children 5 minute then 1 minute warnings that a transition is approaching and “it’s time to finish up what you’re doing” or “You may do one last thing before clean up.” Then tell them, “It is clean up time.” Children need more time than adults to process information so wait a moment and repeat one specific and observable thing you want them to do.
There is a cognitive delay between hearing a direction and understanding it- so be patient. This is one reason why children repeat themselves so much. Their brains have a delay between what even they say and understanding that they said it. Fascinating creatures! Repeating back to them what they say can help.
Consistent routines allow children to feel in control and safe. This feeling of predictability can help a child achieve desired behavior.
To positively affect children’s behavior, limit instructions to short phrases. Only give one direction at a time. Be sure to give information, as opposed to finding fault:
We keep the door closed so the bunny stays inside. versus Don’t open that.
Stop pulling your friend’s hair. versus No! Don’t do that!
Blocks are for building with, you can throw a ball outside. versus You’re too rough!
We use gentle hands with our friends. versus Don’t be a bully!
Help children learn to effectively enter into play with others:
Children who behave disrespectfully to other children often are doing so because they don’t know how else to get what they want. Often, children with behavioral difficulties are just wanting to play with their peers, but aren’t sure how to. Children need help learning respectful social skills. We can help by teaching them to be effective observers of their environment.
Sit with a child on the outskirts of another child’s play and observe what the other child is doing. Look for ways to non-intrusively enter into the play and even expand the play.
For example you can sit with Sue just outside the dramatic play kitchen and observe Tim and Laura playing “Mom and Dad”. Dad is making dinner at the stove while Mom sets the table. Ask Sue what else Tim and Laura can do in the kitchen? Could they have a baby at the table they need to feed? Maybe when she’s comfortable Sue could ask if she could play their baby?
It is interesting to watch children who get this concept naturally. They will play just on the outskirts of those who they wish to play with and once they see an opening where they can smoothly join in they seamlessly add to the play. Try this yourself at your next party
Ask open-ended questions:
What was your favorite activity today? versus Did you like school today?
Try being specific and non-judgmental in the feedback you give children so they feel what they are doing is valued. For example:
I like the hard work you are putting into cleaning up those blocks.
You are drawing red circles all over the paper. versus That’s pretty.
Comment on what you actually see, not your evaluation of their work.
You are becoming such a strong climber. It looks like you have been practicing.
We are children’s guides, teaching them the behavior we wish them to display and the problem-solving skills we want them to utilize. When problems arise
Put it in perspective:
All people test limits.
Young children don’t act out to upset you or to be annoying, but because they are curious creatures trying to figure out how life works and their role in it.
Children test limits for the same reasons adults do- it feels powerful and gives us a sense of control in an often chaotic world. It is our role as their caregivers to help them through this.
Investigate what is motivating the behavior and replace it with something appropriate.
My child seems to get moody at 11am. I could try putting her down for her nap earlier or feed her a snack between breakfast and lunch to see if that helps.
Redirect children to alternative activities that serve a similar purpose:
Climbing the furniture is dangerous. You can climb the jungle gym.
I can’t let you kick blocks because it is not safe. When we go outside, you can kick a ball.
Allow the child to choose their activity.
Kicking our friend is not okay because it hurts him. What else can you do with your feet?
Limit a child’s activity choice if they are not making safe choices.
You are throwing sand and that is not safe. You need to choose an activity not in the sand box. The next time we come outside you can try again.
Because you are not listening to my words, the dramatic play area is closed until you are able to play with gentle hands in a different area for a while.
Natural and logical consequences:
If you continue to throw the doll then you won’t be able to play with the doll.
Once you clean up your blocks you can go play outside.
Have a plan in place for common behavioral issues:
Every time we go to the grocery store my child yells for candy. Before we go into the store I will tell her, “You can pick out one thing that’s yours. Once you choose I will need your help getting the rest of the groceries. If you yell we will leave the store with nothing because yelling hurts my ears.” You then must be prepared to leave the store several times before she gets the point.
When conflicts arise with older children- work with them to problem solve. For example:
If one child grabs another’s toy you can bring both children over to you and ask, in a calm and non-judgmental tone, what has occurred. Once both children give their perspective ask them, “What can we do to make this better?” If they give an appropriate solution then support them in implementing it. If they are struggling then help them by providing possible solutions- “Sue had the toy first so it is her turn with the toy. Tell her when she is done you would like a turn.” Then redirect the waiting child to another activity while they wait.
We guide children in problem-solving by encouraging them to “Use your words.”
Children who are taught problem-solving are invested in the success of the outcome and will often solve their own issues without needing outside support.
Avoid giving material rewards in exchange for positive behavior. We want children to behave respectfully because that is how to make friends and get the most out of your activities.
Avoid using food to comfort, reward, punish. A cookie is a treat not a band aid.
Help children identify their feelings and respect all their feelings:
It looks like you’re feeling angry because Sue took your toy. I’m here to help you work through this.
Are you feeling sad because you wanted to play with Sue? I’m here to help you.
I see you are getting frustrated because Tommy keeps moving your blocks. You can tell Tommy you are building something and it frustrates you when he moves your blocks.
Allow children to fully express their feelings before engaging in further talk.
Guide children toward understanding the feelings of others by teaching empathy:
When a child hurts another child you can point out to the child who hurt how sad the other child looks and ask them what things they can do to help the other child feel better. They can get an ice pack, glass of water, offer a hug, ask them to play a different game, and so on. You can talk with the child about a time when they were hurt, pointing out how they felt then is similar to how the other child feels now.
Avoid making a child apologize:
Children often don’t associate saying sorry with actually feeling sorry. It becomes meaningless- something to say in order to move on or because we are being forced to say it to appease another. This doesn’t mean we don’t hold children accountable when they do things they should feel sorry for or that we stop a child who says sorry on their own. It means that it is not a get out of jail free card. We will hold them accountable in other age appropriate ways as described in previous sections.
Children rationalize- it’s okay if I hit my friends as long as I say, “Sorry.”
Children must be taught what being sorry means. This takes time. Children typically aren’t cognitively able to understand higher level feelings till around 2 years old and even then they must be taught what empathy and remorse will mean behaviorally for them by watching their role models and experiencing the natural and logical consequences of being a social creature. We can help older children (3-4yr) by giving them the words to explain their feelings. Remorse is when you feel sadness about what you did and wish you hadn’t done it. Being sorry means you feel remorse and are also making a commitment to try and not do that behavior again.
We can also use a stern voice. It is not helpful to yell at children, unless you want a child who yells at you. But there is power in the Mom means business now voice.
Recruit help. If you see that what you are trying isn’t working, ask someone else to step in. Just changing things up can sometimes make a big difference.
Take a personal time out. If you feel flustered or angry you might not be thinking as clearly as you could be after taking a moment to gather yourself. You are also role modeling what your child can do when they are feeling angry with someone.
Mommy needs to take a moment to calm down. Then we will talk further. If you can’t leave the situation entirely then move to another part of the room and take a deep breath. When you come back you can let them know that Mommy needed a moment because she was feeling a bit angry about what was happening, but even though mommy sometimes gets angry she still loves you just as much as ever. Now that we are calm let’s talk about what happened and how we can do things better next time.
Doors are for adult hands only. Quiet voices, please
Please use gentle hands. It’s time to put on your listening ears.
Walking feet. Please put your feet on the floor.
Chairs are for sitting in. How can we help our friend?
Use your words. Tell your friend what you want with your words.
Respect each other’s personal space. I like how hard you are working on that.
The more you practice the better you’ll get at that. I’m here to help phrases
Instead of saying, “Be careful.” We need to focus on specifically what they should be doing to be safe. EX, “Please walk down the stairs slowly and hold the hand rail.”
Instead of saying, “You’re OK.” We should be validating their feelings and letting them know we are there to help them. EX, “You look sad. It hurts to fall down. I’m here to help you. Would you like an ice pack and a hug?”