ACHIEVING POSITIVE BEHAVIOUR
In order to achieve positive behaviour and positive interactions we understand this needs to be embedded within the daily teaching and routines. As a Froebelian setting we honour who the children are as individuals and approach positive behaviour and interactions by starting from where they are and what they understand. Depending on the age and developmental stage of each child we will adapt our approaches according. This often begins with adults labelling emotions and discussing behaviours with the children. This ensures we are able to build a considerate nursery community.
A crucial part of daily nursery life is giving children the time and freedom to encounter and understand situations of conflict or difficult moments as they arise. For the sake of this policy and in order to support a consistent, respectful approach across Linden Tree Nursery Schools, we have categorised these into two different types of scenarios: conflict which encompasses instances of physical and non-physical conflict; and tantrums or emotional distress.
Whilst dealing with these scenarios we need to consider the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’. The ‘why’ is our Froebelian approach because it underpins why we act in the way that we do to achieve positive behaviour. The ‘what’ describes the process/ steps we follow in these situations and the ‘how’ describes the techniques we use in both in the moment and as next steps.
We believe that children and adults flourish best in an enabling environment in which everyone knows what is expected of them and where children are free to develop their play and learning without fear of being hurt or hindered by anyone else.
We approach this by striving to create a considerate community where children learn to consider the views, feelings, needs and rights of others and the impact that their behaviour has on people, places and objects.
The Froebelian approach support us in viewing behaviour as a developmental task that requires support, encouragement, teaching and role modelling. The principles that underpin how we achieve positive and considerate behaviour exist within the curriculum for promoting personal, social and emotional development. Developing these skills take time and should be viewed as a process which needs patience, understanding and support.
For the sake of this policy and in order to support a consistent, respectful approach across Linden Tree Nursery Schools we have categorised unwanted/ challenging behaviour into two different types of scenarios: conflict, encompasses instance of physical and non-physical conflict; and tantrums or emotional distress. A consistent approach ensures children have the security of knowing what is expected and can be continuously supported towards building up the skill needed to interact with others safely and respectfully.
The following diagram shows the process of dealing with unwanted physical or non-physical conflict:
*Shouting is to be used only to prevent danger or harm to a child, adult or property by alerting them in the hope to stop an action before the adult can be close enough to stop the physical action. Shouting is not tolerated in dealing with behaviour and is not used to threaten or embarrass the child.
Example (Jerry 2 years, 3 months):
At LTNS we encourage reflective practice so practitioners can be flexible with strategies and provide an enabling, supportive environment for all children which starts from where the child is and their experiences. All approaches to behaviour management are to be developmentally appropriate with an understanding of the child’s age and stage of development whilst dealing with incidences and next steps. Teams should work together to change aspects of the room/routine to reduce incidents, for example, do we need more space at certain times of the day, do we need to have an earlier snack/garden time, do we need to order more of a popular resource.
The following approaches in our day to day teaching and routines help us in the reflective process, teams may need to provide more or less of these activities to support specific needs for a child/children:
Praise positive behaviours/point out the effort they are making
Promote independence and responsibilities and caring for others/trust children to make the right choices
Quiet time activities at specific times of the day
1:1 time where required
Promote empathy through responsibilities ie, getting a cold compress, returning a toy, helping look after the nursery pet/plants.
Sometimes children behave in ways which we would not deem acceptable within the Nursery Schools. Below are the strategies we do not tolerate:
Punishments that affect the wellbeing of a child being used or threatened
Physical punishments, such as smacking or shaking, will not be used nor threatened
Children being sent out of the room by themselves
Techniques which single out and humiliate individual children, such as the ‘naughty chair’ will not be used
Adults shouting or raise their voices in a threatening way
Learning to share is a process. Young children have not developed the ability to understand other children’s emotions and are focused on their own feelings and thoughts. Unwillingness to share is perfectly normal at this age. In fact, these skills develop between 3.5 to 4 years old. This section supports with aiding the child by providing a solution or supporting the child in finding a solution.
We must also be mindful of the child’s feelings in this process and take a ‘feeling with’ rather than ‘dealing with’ approach to understanding and supporting children’s behaviour.
• Offer a turn. In some instances, a child can be given a long turn with a toy. “Continue playing with a car and give to Allan when you finish” as it is not necessarily for the child to stop playing once they started. It is okay to let children have a “long turn”—a chance to play with the toy—before they share. Help the other child wait by offering a different activity or explaining to them how they feel why they wait, “I know it is difficult to wait for a toy, this must make you feel frustrated. Would you like to play with something else whilst you wait?”
• Use a sand-timer or a clock. In some cases, letting a child decide when their turn will be over just is not practical. At those times, a timer or a clock can be a helpful and visual aid. Additionally, it is not the adult telling the children when to share. The older toddlers and pre-schoolers also learn this technique to solve their conflicts independently without seeking adults’ support.
• Suggest having fun together. It happens that children are playing with a ball or blocks and they do not want to share a toy. You can suggest that playing with the ball with another person is more fun; or a friend can help build a big castle. If the child still does not want to play with another child then we respect their decision to play alone.
• Acknowledge children’s feelings. When struggles happen, it is important to acknowledge how both children feel. “I understand, you took that book because it looked interesting. But Eloise picked it up first so she gets to read it now. You can have a turn later. It’s OK to be upset when you have to wait. Waiting is hard!” It is usually the child who is waiting for a turn who is having big feelings. Sometimes this means listening to a child’s temporary emotional meltdown. Their disappointment, though out-of-proportion to an adult’s eyes, feels very rea.l When a child’s emotions are understood and validated, it helps her learn to put herself in others’ shoes and move on to the next step—finding solutions.
• Help the children find solutions. Help the children brainstorm ways to work it out and ask their opinions. Listen to their ideas and do not underestimate their ability to come up with strategies. For example, “We need to mix the ingredients to make playdough but we have only one stirring spoon. What should we do?” The more we trust and empower children, the more likely they will solve problems independently.
• Teach children how to communicate. After an incident when sharing resources was challenging and everyone is calm, a short statement about expectations will help children learn new behaviours. For example, “Next time, if you want a toy, you can say, ‘Can I have this car please?”
We only use physical restraint, such as holding to prevent physical injury to children or adults or serious damage to property. All details are brought to the attention of the nursery manger and recorded on an incident report which is explained to the parent at collection, signed by them and sent to the parents as part of the child’s daily report. If these instances happen regularly external support may be sought.
Bullying is a deliberate and aggressive action, carried out with intent to cause harm or distress to others. As such, ‘bullying’ action requires the child to have a higher level of reasoning and thinking than most three years olds have. An outburst by a young child is therefore more likely to be a reflection of their emotional wellbeing, stage of development or behaviour that they have copied from someone else. Bullying at this age is a learnt action rather than deliberate behaviour. We take hurtful behaviour very seriously. Most children under the age of five will at some stage hurt or say something hurtful to another child, especially if their emotions are high at the time, but it is not helpful to label this behaviour as ‘bullying’. For children under five, hurtful behaviour is momentary, spontaneous and often without cognisance of the feelings of the person whom they have hurt.
Bullying can involve the persistent physical or verbal abuse of another child or children.
If a child is showing bullying tendencies;
We will intervene to stop the harming of the child or children
We will inform the Manager of the nursery
Begin ABC forms – looking for a pattern or reason to behaviours
We give reassurance to the child or children who have been hurt or upset
We help the child understand why his or her behaviour is inappropriate and the consequences
We promote an understanding of our emotions through empathy
We praise all children’s positive behaviour
Parents or Carers are informed of any incidents during the day, through verbal feedback or if needed, recorded documentation
Biting is a behaviour that some young children display for various reasons;
It can be linked to development in speech, as when they do not have the words to communicate anger, frustration or needs
An emotional response, there may be changes in the child’s life e.g. with parents or at home, that need to be taken into consideration.
They may be teething, they may find biting, either themselves, toys or someone else relieving for their teething pain.
Copying, as part of playing, parents or adults may ‘play’ bite their children e.g. I could eat your little toes, nom nom. Etc. The children then think it is ok to play bite, and may be copying this action on their friends, without having control of strength of bite.
If a child is biting we will follow our achieving positive behaviour procedure, if the child is showing repetitive traits of biting or frustrated behaviour we will follow the following procedure
Instil boundaries with the child, be consistent in our approach, inform the child that we do not bite our friends
Provide the child with a teething toy
Use an ABC form to find out the reason behind the biting
Speak with the parents to advise what is happening and see if there are any changes at home and how parents are managing the behaviour out of nursery
Teachers will observe the child to see what influences are affecting the biting
The teachers will then plan specific activities and enable the environment so that the biting behaviour should stop
If biting persists, we will refer the child to the Early Years referral team for further support for the child and family.
In all instances an accident form for the child who has been bitten will be completed on each incidence, and incident form will be filled in for the child who has bitten. Each child’s parent will be informed on every occasion.
For confidentiality reasons and to eliminate possible conflict between parents, the name of the child who has bitten will not be disclosed to the parent of the child who has been bitten.
Tantrums/ Emotional distress
Tantrums are short periods of angry outbursts or unreasonable behaviour like crying, screaming or shouting. It can happen when the child is tired, hungry, worried or anxious, or when they are feeling ignored. Learning to think ahead and reliably control emotions and behaviour is a developmental process that begins to emerge in toddlerhood and continues all the way through the mid-twenties.
What – Tantrums and emotional distress
The following diagram shows the process of dealing with tantrums or emotional distress:
Example (George, 3 years old):
How – Tantrums and emotional distress
Co-regulation and self-regulation
The most important tool in helping children develop the ability to control her emotions and behaviours is co-regulation: ‘self-regulation grows out of co-regulation, where adults and children work together towards a common purpose, including finding ways to resolve upsets from stress in any domain and return to balance’ (Birth to 5 Matters, 2021:21). As part of the above diagram we co-regulate with children we help them to feel safe and to tolerate and make sense of their sensations and basic feelings, before moving on to solve the problem.
Comforters are one method of relieving anxiety, frustration and fears and so part of the process of self-regulating. Comforters help settle a child because it's something familiar to them which calms them down and not allowing them to use it provides a more stressful environment for them.
At LTNS we never take comforters away from children. As children get older staff and families will work together to find out whether the child uses it too often which results in them missing out on other learning opportunities. If this is the case it is useful to use other methods such as distracting their attention, talking and listening to the child or offering a cuddle. If the child has a good level of understanding we might explain to them that it is time for their comforter to go away for a while and be kept safe until later. Staff should implement a process of having a consistent place for comforters such as a basket or the child’s bag (if accessible by the child) that is easily accessible. These techniques should not be too restrictive and should show respect for children’s needs. Please see the below example:
Ongoing challenging behaviour and ABC forms
On the above diagrams the last step of the process listed is ‘reflection and next steps’. It is important that practitioners work to understand why the child’s behaviour has changed or is ongoing. Our strong relationships with children and families as well as the key person system supports us in sharing information between the home and the setting in order to provide understanding, insight and knowledge sharing helping us understand and support children’s behaviour appropriately and consistently. For example is there an underlying cause such as, a change or upheaval at home.
The manager will support those staff who need to use an ABC from (antecedent, behaviour, consequence) to observe and analyse changes in behaviour. The form will be used in extreme circumstances to understand any patterns of behaviour. Children will not be labelled using words such as ‘naughty’ or ‘problem child’. Each child will be offered time to talk about their behaviour and given opportunities to make the right decision for themselves (where developmentally appropriate). The manager will discuss this with the parents and SENDCO in order to agree on the use of the ABC form, including time lines as well as possible next steps.
If an ABC form is necessary the nominated staff members will keep themselves up to date with legislation, research and understanding of nurturing self-regulation through the Froebelian approach and through the support of their manager. The manager will gain support from the training team if necessary.
The Manager of the setting is to work with Key Person, parents and SENCO if required in regards to children with ABC monitoring in place.
Children’s Well-being at Nursery
Well-being is a broad term that covers how you feel about yourself and your life. It encompasses the physical, emotional (and mental), social and spiritual areas of a person. Under the Early Years Foundations Stage (EYFS) this is covered in the children’s personal, social, emotional development and physical development, both of which are prime areas of learning and development.
Physical well-being covers everything physical to do with the body:
Growth and development
Moving and keeping physically fit
Caring for personal health (e.g. washing, cleaning teeth, etc.)
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet
Rest and appropriate sleep patterns.
Mental and emotional well-being includes:
Acknowledging, expressing and coping with feelings and emotions
Reducing stress and anxiety.
Social well-being includes:
Family (close and extended)
The feeling of belonging and acceptance
Compassion and caring approaches.
Spiritual well-being can cover the following:
Value and beliefs held
Personal identity and self-awareness.
Children’s physical well-being is supported through our carefully planned curriculum programme which supports all types of gross and fine motor play both inside and outside. We provide nutritionally balanced meals for the children and support our staff to make healthy choices in regards to their physical health.
Personal hygiene is supported in children of all ages, explaining the reasons for hand washing, tooth brushing and other routines.
Children are provided with quiet and calming areas for rest, sleep and relaxation. This supports both their physical and mental well-being. We support children to make strong attachments with their key person as well as forge relationships with their peers in order to support their social well-being. We offer opportunities and resources for children to play singly, in pairs, small groups and large groups to support this area of development.
Children’s mental and emotional well-being is supported. We provide a safe environment that allows for caregiver to child co-regulation. This practice supports the process of children building the capacity for self-regulation, through providing activities in which children are able to recognise and express their emotions, including emotional literacy. This enables us to provide support for children who may be experiencing big emotions they cannot cope with just yet, including sadness and over-excitement. We support children’s self-regulation through carefully planned activities and resources, modelling calming strategies and naming and talking about feelings and by providing opportunities for children to practise their self-regulation skills.
Staff use the Promoting positive behaviour policy to ensure a consistent approach.
Staff are able to recognise when a child may need support with their emotions and will provide this one-to-one or in a small group, whichever is more appropriate. Teaching children to recognise and manage their emotions at a young age helps support foundations for doing this throughout their life.
Updated July 2023