Positive Behavioral Supports for Young Children (page 2)
Children need to know that they are loved and accepted. Even very young children develop an understanding about how caregivers feel about them. They listen to what caregivers say to them and to others about them, and they observe how caregivers behave. Children who feel secure in their environment and in their relationships with caregivers are less likely to misbehave as a way of getting inappropriate attention.
When a child misbehaves, caregivers are likely to focus on the child and the child's behavior in an effort to stop the inappropriate behavior and prevent its recurrence. It may be difficult for the caregiver to understand how the environment may be a contributing factor to the misbehavior. Environmental variables that may contribute to the misbehavior include the following:
- the behavior of the caregiver (e.g., is misbehavior reinforced?);
- the behavior of others in the environment (e.g., how do peers respond to the child's behavior?); and
- factors relating to the environment in which the child exhibits the behavior (e.g., physical environment, classroom curriculum, cognitive and social demands).
We will look at three suggestions as to how caregivers can demonstrate to young children that they are loved, liked, and accepted.
Tell Students You Like Them
A caregiver cannot assume that children know someone likes them-you must tell them! Caregivers should get into the daily habit of telling children they are liked, especially after appropriate behavior. Some caregivers may have a very difficult time saying "I like you" or expressing positive feelings to the children placed in their care. If expressing feelings in this way becomes part of the daily routine, however, caregivers will find it becomes easier to do so. Children should leave their educational setting saying, "My teacher really likes me!"
Families who communicate their feelings about each other when children are young will have an easier time expressing feelings when the children become adolescents. Thus, efforts to communicate affection when children are young provide an investment for future parent-child communication patterns.
Educators can help children establish healthy attitudes about expressing their feelings in the classroom. Talking about feelings and giving children opportunities to talk about how they feel teach children that their feelings are real and part of being a person. They also give educators a chance to teach children how to identify, be sensitive to, and respect the feelings of others. These lessons will help provide a solid foundation for the development of appropriate social skills.
Set Aside Individual Time
Set aside some special time, if only a few minutes per day, with each child. Use this time to talk and listen to the child and to let that child know how important he or she is. These private conversations also give children a chance to express any feelings, concerns, or reactions to the day's events. Moreover, regardless of how difficult the day has been for both of you/ this special time provides an opportunity for at least one positive caregiver-child interaction.
Many children do not have a significant adult in their lives outside the school environment. They may live in a single-parent household with a parent who is busy and preoccupied with trying to support the family. We all know how important it is for children to have one special adult to talk to, share their feelings, and provide positive feedback and support. Often that adult is a teacher or counselor from the child/s school. Educators need to be aware of these social needs and willing to give some time (even a few minutes each day) to show a student that someone cares.
Give Children Affection
With all the attention to and appropriate concern about the sexual abuse of children, some caregivers are hesitant to touch, hug, or otherwise express affection toward the children in their care. Some schools have even told educators not to touch their students. This reaction is very unfortunate. Children need affection to develop normally and to be emotionally happy and secure. Children in today/s society spend more and more time out of their homes and away from loving parents. Thus, the affection of other caregivers becomes even more crucial, especially for infants and young children. Schools are encouraged to develop policies that also outline acceptable touching (e.g., pats on the shoulders, handshakes).
Building Self-Esteem in Young Children
Children who have healthy self-esteem are usually happy children who feel good about themselves and others. Happy, self-assured children are likely to interact positively with caregivers and other children. In addition to its social and behavioral benefits, healthy self-esteem is positively related to academic achievement.
Demonstrating to children that they are loved, liked, and accepted is the first step to building their self-esteem. We can now look at some specific suggestions for increasing children' s self-esteem.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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