Behavior: How to Encourage Positive Behavior in Young Children

Good health includes social, emotional, and behavioral wellness. Use approaches to support positive behavior in young children. This will encourage wellness for all children in your care. Teach children appropriate ways to manage their own behavior. The goal is to teach and guide children, not to punish. Strategies include using clear rules and supportive language. Offering alternatives to undesirable behavior and natural consequences are excellent options.
Common challenging behaviors in child care can include biting, defiance, and tantrums. Some behaviors persist and raise concerns. The child may not respond to appropriate positive interventions. Persistent difficult behaviors may include excess anger, aggression, and social withdrawal. What steps should be taken?

1. Discuss the issues with parents…early!
2. Contact ECELS if you have questions about a child’s behavior This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
3. Document observations; use the ECELS Behavioral Data Collection Sheet.
4. Include the child’s health care provider. Primary care providers should evaluate all children with persistent behavior problems. Encourage the parents to bring the Behavioral Data Collection Sheet.
5. Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants (ECMHCs) are available through the PA Keys.
6. Avoid expulsion. Expulsion can prevent children from receiving the help they need.
7. Create a policy. Model Child Care Health Policies, 5th edition contains the Special Care Plan for a Child with Behavioral Concerns (pp. 140-141). This is a fill in the blank policy for positive behavior management.

Implement ways to support positive behavior in your work with children. Online resources include:
• ECELS - Managing Challenging Behaviors Webinar
• ECELS - Behavior: Managing Challenging Behaviors in Young Children Self-Learning Module
• PA Positive Behavioral Support Network Getting Started in Program-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports
• Early Intervention Technical Assistance (EITA) Social Emotional Resources for Early Learning Programs
• Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) research and evidence-based practices promoting the social emotional development and school readiness of young children birth to age 5
Review best practice standards from Caring for Our Children, 3rd edition:
• Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants
• Discipline Measures
• Handling Physical Aggression, Biting, and Hitting
• Preventing Expulsions, Suspensions, and Other Limitations in Service
• Written Discipline Policies                        Reviewed and reaffirmed 6/2021