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Difficult Behavior in Early Childhood

Difficult Behavior in Early Childhood
Positive Discipline for PreK-3 Classrooms and Beyond

First Edition

September 2006 | 176 pages | Corwin
'Teachers of young children will feel validated by this book that explains the issues underlying behaviors that challenge us on a daily basis and shows how to address them effectively' - Xiomara Sánchez, NBCT, Dual Language Pre-K Teacher, Darwin Elementary School, Chicago, IL

'Covers the breadth of children's behaviors that teachers are likely to see, and describes the major motivators for them very well. The examples and scenarios are highly interesting, meaningful, and transferable to classroom practice' - Gail Hardesty, Early Reading First Mentor, Chicago Public Schools, IL

Teachers are experts in balancing the diverse backgrounds, social-emotional needs, and academic goals of children in their classroom - that is, if they can only get them to sit still, pay attention, keep their hands off of each other (or out of the fish tank), or a host of other effective aggravations! But creating a classroom of attentive learners takes more than swift discipline - it involves helping children make good behavioural choices by developing their self-control rather than controlling them to make the choices we prefer.

Difficult Behavior in Early Childhood offers insight into understanding why certain children behave in certain ways, so teachers can react appropriately to individual behaviours and needs. In an engaging, conversational tone, the book covers:

• Reconciling the different behavioural expectations of families and schools

• Applying timeout effectively

• Motivating children immediately and powerfully

• Establishing and following through with boundaries

• Developing behaviour incentive plans that work

• Identifying early signs of depression, anxiety, grief, and special needs

Through informed practice, teachers can bring about positive behavioural change and healthy, productive development.

About the Author
Part I. The Role of Discipline
1. Discipline in Classrooms, Families, and Society
Communities That Affect Children’s Development

Family Expectations and Classroom Expectations

Discipline From the Inside Out

Practice Makes Better

Appropriate Discipline Develops Social Competence

Chapter Highlights

Part II. Time and Using Timeout
2. Before Timeout: Understanding Children’s Sense of Time
Children’s Sense of Time

Making Time Relevant to Children

Or Else!

When There Isn’t One “Best” Choice

Likability, Validation, Acceptance, and Connection

Unconditional Love and Conditional Acceptance

Chapter Highlights

3. Three Common Uses of Timeout and Why They Fail to Work
Theory 1. The "Suffering" Theory of Timeout

Theory 2. The "Think About It" Theory of Timeout

Theory 3. The “How Would You Like It If…” Theory of Timeout

Chapter Highlights

4.The Community Theory of Timeout That Works
The Three Rules of Community

The Gift of Timeout

Chapter Highlights

5. Applying Timeout Effectively
Begin With Basic Boundaries and Instructions

Return to Timeout

Timeout Again?

Timeout in Perspective

Moving From Timeout to a Plan: Doing Something Differently

Chapter Highlights

Part III. Setting and Following Through With Boundaries
6. Boundaries: The Foundation for Growth and Change
Block Negative Behaviors First

Clarify Boundaries and Consequences

Ambiguity Won’t Work

Chapter Highlights

7. Follow-Through and Consistency
Follow Through With Verbal and Nonverbal Messages

Be More Stubborn Than Your Students

Constantly and Consistently Reinforce Behavior

Beyond Boundaries, Consequences, Follow-Through, and Consistency

Chapter Highlights

Part IV. Punishment, Praise, and Rewards
8. How and Why Punishment Works—and Doesn't Work
Motivation to Misbehave

Immunity to Punishment

Intensification and Abusive Behavior

Admitting It’s Time for a Change

Discipline Is More Than Punishment Alone

Chapter Highlights

9. The Effective and Judicious Uses of Praise
Praise the Person, Not the Behavior

Self-Awareness of Achievement: The True Reward

Attention, Appreciation, and Material Rewards

Chapter Highlights

10. The Most Important Lesson of Choices
A Multiple-Choice World

Rewarding Children for Meeting Expectations

Consequences for Poor Choices Are Necessary

Reasonable and Unreasonable Behaviors

Reflecting on Your Own Choices

Chapter Highlights

11. Motivating Reward Systems: Key Issues and Effective Principles
Rewards as a Part of the Process, Not the Total Process

A Reward System Cannot Become a Punishment System

Principles of an Effective Reward System

Chapter Highlights

12. Rewards-Only Behavior Plans
"Rewards-Only" Means Just That

Basic Terms of the Plan

Make the Plan Practical

Success in One Area of Behavior Transfers to Other Areas

Chapter Highlights

13. Connecting Goals to Motivating Rewards
Defining Goals and Rewards

Choosing Quantifiable Goals

Defining and Quantifying Desirable Behaviors

Short-Term, Midterm, and Long-Term Goals

Goals That Involve Time Frames

Remember, No Punishments

Children Should Choose Their Rewards (Within Reason)

Age-Appropriate and Individually Tailored Rewards

Rewarding Consistency With Bonuses

Examples of Rewards-Only Incentive Plans

Always Follow Through

Chapter Highlights

Part V. Recognizing and Responding to Specific Behaviors and Emotions
14. When There Is More to It: Helping Children With Deeper Issues
Happy Children Act Out Too

Is This an Angry Child?

Is This a Sad Child?

Is This a Fearful or Anxious Child?

Is This a Child Who Is Holding Unprocessed Pain or Loss?

Is This a Child Who May Need a Referral to a Specialist?

Chapter Highlights

Conclusion: Now What?
Asking Questions

From Observations to Results

Be a Teaching Artist


"Covers the breadth of children's behaviors that teachers are likely to see, and describes the major motivators for them very well. The examples and scenarios are highly interesting, meaningful, and transferable to classroom practice."

Gail Hardesty, Mentor
Chicago Public Schools, IL

"Teachers of young children will feel validated by this book that explains the issues underlying behaviors that challenge us on a daily basis and shows how to address them effectively."

Xiomara Sánchez, NBCT, Dual Language Pre-K Teacher
Darwin Elementary School, Chicago, IL

"Learning to manage children's behavior is one of the most challenging aspects of teaching. Children tend to act out at inopportune moments, and the rest of the class is always watching to see how the teacher responds to an individual child's behavior. This invaluable resource goes a long way toward helping teachers develop practical strategies for effective classroom management."

Marilyn Karp, Editor-in-Chief
Early Childhood Teachers' Club

"The flow of the book is smooth and easy to grasp. The vignettes, discussions, and practical suggestions are true-to-life and applicable."

Dimensions of Early Childhood, Spring/Summer 2007
Southern Early Childhood Association

"I am thoroughly impressed. As an early childhood educator and administrator, I felt this book provided a realistic description of behavior in children of this age. This is an excellent resource to use as a staff development tool. There are useful tips, but most of all, it makes you think about each child and how your interactions are so crucial."

Denise Humphries, Preschool Principal
John F. Kennedy American School, Queretaro, Mexico

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

For instructors

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