Positive Guidance Techniques
Use the Safety Rule
Basic rules and limits are necessary within the early childhood classroom. Children feel more secure if they know what behavior is acceptable and what behavior is unacceptable.
- Reasons for rules and expectations are respectfully explained on a routine basis so children understand their purpose.
- Children and teachers use the Safety Rule to decide on appropriate behavior for themselves and others.
Use Positive Verbal Guidance (Responsive Language)
Children often forget what constitutes appropriate behavior from one day to the next and from one situation to another (Kostelnik, Soderman, & Whiren, 1999). They need frequent reminders of the rules; if corrective action is necessary, adults should be clear but non-accusatory. Responsive language utilizes positive verbal guidance that is respectful towards children, labels and validates children's feelings, and clarifies rules and responsibilities. Responsive language gives reasons and explanations to children (Stone, 1993). Adults actively listen to children and respond in a sensitive manner.
State rules in positive terms.
Tell children what to do instead of what not to do. Try to eliminate "stop," "don't" and "no" from your statements to children (except to keep a child safe in an emergency).
"Please walk" rather than "Don't run."
"Eat your food" rather than "Don't play with your food."
"Sit down flat so other children can see" instead of "Don't stand up."
Make requests and give directions in respectful ways.
"When you are finished eating, please throw your napkin and cup in the trash can."
Validate children's feelings.
"I know that it is hard to wait for a turn. But other children want a turn too."
Clarify classroom rules and give reasons for the limits.
"Walk to the bus so that you stay safe and don't fall."
"Use a quiet voice in the hall so you don't disturb the other classes."
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