I continue to be intrigued by the way the EYFS talks about ‘managing children’s behaviour’. Considering what we now know about how a child learns and develops, is ‘managing children’s behaviour’ still a useful term to use within Early Years?
My views are that we can’t manage children’s behaviour, as we need to give all children the skills and tools to regulate their own behaviour, so they can resolve conflict and be emotionally grounded both within their early years and beyond.
Educators can indeed help children with self-regulation, which is different from the traditional training in ‘behaviour management’ within Early Years.
Educators require skills such as recognising a child has suffered a trauma and supporting the child sensitively to help them communicate how they are feeling; assisting children to resolve conflict through negotiation and giving them the language skills to do so; helping children know they have a voice and are able to contribute to the setting’s values and how this links to ‘boundaries’.
As Educators, it is equally important we do not blame the child, as their behaviour – be it positive or negative – is their way of communicating to us that they have something to tell us. Incidentally, how do we define what is positive or negative behaviour? To quote Stuart Shanker ‘We don’t just respect the child: we value the child. Every child. This is impossible when you see a child as ‘annoying’ or even ‘challenging.’
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