On March 5, 2016 was the 43rd annual Advancing Skills and Knowledge (ASK) Conference in Chapel Hill, NC. This conference brings together early childhood educators and advocates ensuring our children will be given all opportunities for high-quality education toward becoming productive citizens into adulthood.
One training during the second session was titled, “A Problem Solving Approach for Preschoolers Challenging Behaviors”. The main objective of the training was to empower participants working with children between the ages of three to five lessening and/or eliminating the appropriate challenging behaviors. Here are some of techniques/strategies shared by the presenters.
1. At the beginning of each day, discuss the type of day with child then reinforce behavior throughout the day (verbal, non-verbal),
2. Read books on the different challenging experiences and engage the children on ways to resolve it. Role-play the situations to give children a better understanding of the end actions. The acronym CROWD (completion, recall, open-ended, WH, distancing) prompts for inquiry-based types of questioning concepts,
3. Tattle ear/cell phone. Draw a large ear/cell phone then place in a space on the wall where the children can go to and tattle,
4. How I feel today? As the child enters the classroom s/he place a feeling circle next to their name. Teacher engage child in conversation on feeling (sad, angry). Throughout the day keep your eyes on the child ensuring safety for all for positive outcome of behaviors,
5. Peace table. Have a table with three chairs and sign in the middle “Peace Table” with a “Peace Wand” (magic wand or teacher made). Children cannot talk until they have the “peace wand” to discuss the issues (taking turns) working toward a solution,
6. Work on effective praise statements that will encourage children’s actions to be ones that are acceptable. For examples, “You helped Susie clean up all the counting bears” and “You took turns with the bicycle today”,
7. Pink or blue light in calming center. If you have a designated calming down center place a pink or blue light bulb in lamp. The colors will lower blood pressure and rate of respiration.
8. A-B-C functional plan. Through careful observation of every child the teacher will know the antecedent (A) – what happens before the challenging behavior (B) then have at least three consequences (C) strategies that teacher has discussed with child. The hope is the child will start and continue to self-regulate their behavior,
9. Push pause button. Collect unused television or other media devices telling children when they are feeling angry ready to explode push the “pause button”. The children will hold the “pause button” breathing deeply until feeling better. When the child is ready to rejoin the group release the “pause button”, and
10. Problem solving skills. The teacher will engage both children in conversation about (a) What is the problem? Letting each tell their version, (b) What can I do?, each child take turns answering the questions, (c) What might happen if …?, letting the children discuss the choices, (d) Choose a solution and use it – they must agree and teacher viewing to make sure choice is being implemented, and (e) Is it working? If not, what can I do now? – bring the children back together to review and start back with the first step, if needed.
It is so important for early childhood educators to instill in preschoolers empathy, problem solving skills and self-regulation as they continue to grow. Remember, these are life-long skills, techniques and strategies that will be carried into adulthood.