Positive behaviour management

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By Dr Hannah MortimerEducational Psychologist

Try this step-by-step approach to dealing with challenging behaviour in a way that boosts children’s self-esteem

Unhappy boy


In this article:

  1. Starting points
  2. Defining the behaviour clearly
  3. Collecting information
  4. Detective work
  5. Detective work
  6. Monitoring progress


Why be positive?

Because it helps children learn how to behave (rather than how not to) and how to feel positively about themselves – and because it works!

Try to remember that you are dealing with difficult behaviour and not difficult children. Positive behaviour management involves reducing difficult behaviours, but also means teaching children new and more appropriate ways to behave instead. Therefore, you cannot separate behaviour management from the teaching of Personal, Social and Emotional Development in the EYFS.

You will probably be already familiar with materials for encouraging social and emotional aspects of development in your setting. But what do you do when a particular set of behaviours becomes so challenging that you need to plan approaches that are in addition to or different from the usual? This is where it is helpful to have a set procedure to follow that helps you stand back emotionally from the situation in which you find yourself, assess what is going on and plan a successful intervention. Remember that there are no ‘right answers’ – only individual solutions.


1. Starting points

If you have a child in your setting whose behaviour is causing concern, ask yourself these questions before you decide on whether there really is a ‘problem’.

Has the child had time to settle into your group or setting?

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