Dealing With an Individual Child's Misbehavior
Inevitably, there are individual children who require more guidance than other children. Once again, we look on these situations as opportunities to help the misbehaving child internalize self-control. When a child engages in behavior that has been identified by the class as inappropriate, we first remind the child of the appropriate behavior. This might be as simple as saying, “Corey, I’m noticing that you are yelling when the block tower falls down.Our class agreed that there is never a time when it is okay to yell in the classroom. What other things can you do to show the fun of watching the tower fall down?” After a quick discussion of alternate ways to behave, we leave the area, suggesting to Corey that he is on his own and is responsible, once again, for his self-control.If the misbehavior persists, then we offer the child an opportunity to choose another activity (center, area of the room in which to work, and so on) where he or she can exhibit self-control. Sometimes moving or changing activities is enough to get the child back on track. We might say, “Corey, you agreed to speak in a quiet voice. Now I hear you yelling again. Since you chose to yell, you need to choose another place to work where you can use self-control.” We then help Corey choose another activity, and he begins to work with his new choice.Finally, if the misbehavior persists in the new location, we choose an activity (center, area of the room in which to work, and so on) where we think the child can be self-controlled. We say, “Corey, you are yelling as you build with the Legos®. Yelling is not acceptable in this class. Please move to the listening center where you will not have to talk and can think about your self-control.” It is important that you deal with the child in a calm, controlled manner. Do not berate the child,listing the misbehaviors for all to hear. Instead,quietly remind the child of the chances he or she had to make good choices and how the child chose not to use self-control. During the process, watch for successful implementation of the agreed-upon behavior and reinforce that behavior. At the end of the time period, express concern to the child about the behavior and offer hope for the next interaction’s success. You might say “Juan, I’m sorry that you didn’t get to build and knock down towers for all of center time today. But when you choose to throw blocks you are showing that you aren’t using the self-control you need. Today you remembered longer than you did before and I think you’ll soon be able to work for all of center time without throwing blocks.” It takes time for some children to behave in appropriate ways, but by supporting individual children you help them learn to make beneficial decisions about their behavior. Reinforcing positive behaviors in children is also beneficial to their social development.