While I love coming up with creative, fun, educational things for kids to do, sometimes the behavioral side of things can be a challenge. A nicely planned lesson can be thrown off course by some distractions that were not envisioned in the plan.
Scanning the research for assistance and tips on how to deal with challenging behaviors, I am reminded of some basics in working with children, and the importance of prevention. An article on the Teaching Pyramid Model (Fox, Dunlap, Hemmeter, Joseph & Strain, 2003) popped out at me.
The Pyramid Model stresses that prevention is important; the best way to deal with challenging behaviors is to avoid them as much as possible in the first place. What are some things that help prevent issues? The article points out that our relationships are critical and we can focus on building a warm rapport with the kids and really show interest in each individual. Also, how we arrange the program is crucial as well; the flow of the schedule, how the environment is arranged, and how we teach them our routines and expectations are effective tools. If we spend time on these things, we are building a stable structure. Another basic they mention, which interests me, is the notion of teaching youth “emotional literacy”.
“Many children need explicit instruction to ensure they develop competence in emotional literacy, anger and impulse control, interpersonal problem solving, and friendship skills”. Wow. I could use some explicit instruction myself! I imagine, what it would have been like in previous scenarios of my life if I or someone else had an instructor who was coaching us on how to identify what we were feeling and constructive ways to interact with others......The article states “key emotional literacy skills include being able to identify feelings in self and others and act upon feelings in appropriate ways. Discriminating among emotions such as anger, sadness, frustration, and happiness requires a vocabulary of feeling words. Young children can be taught new and complex feeling words….(and) match feeling words with their physiological sensations and the emotions of others.”
The article further mentions “controlling anger and impulse includes being able to recognize anger, understand that anger can interfere with problem solving, and use strategies to calm down instead of acting out. Problem solving includes recognizing when a problem exists, generating multiple alternative solutions, evaluating the consequences of solutions, acting on a solution, and then evaluating how effective the solution was. Friendship skills include sharing and turn taking, making suggestions in play, requesting and receiving help, giving compliments, and dealing effectively with common
peer problems such as teasing or bullying.” While this vocabulary sounds pretty adult to me, how neat it is that there are ways to specifically and intentionally translate these skills to children. Maybe I need to go back to pre-school!
I admire the role models who attend to these elements when working with children. Often, we do not have the time or resources to take the preventative approach. Perhaps some of us had few models to intentionally instill these skills with us. The prevention route takes some time and investment for sure. But, imagine what it could do for our lives as we grow into adulthood and continue the need to problem solve, deal with relationships, and manage our feelings. I am continuing to explore this website to get more insight on how to provide positive guidance for young people in groups: http://challengingbehavior.org
by Karee Mackey
Fox, L., Dunlap, G., Hemmeter, M. L., Joseph, G. E., & Strain, P. S. (2003). The teaching pyramid: A model for supporting social competence and preventing challenging behavior in young children. Young Children, 58(4), 48-52. Retrieved from http://www.challengingbehavior.org/do/resources/documents/yc_article_7_2003.pdf