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Positive Child Guidance (Managing Challenging Behaviour – Tantrums and Biting)

Focus It is important to remember that almost all young children display stages of “inappropriate” or challenging behaviours such as biting, tantrums, clinging or hitting at various times in their development.These behaviours are usually short-lived and typically improve with guidance and age.There are some children, however, whose challenging behaviours may increase and result in injury to self or others, cause damage to property, interfere with acquiring new skills and/or social isolation.

This report investigates the possible causes for challenging behaviors (focusing primarily on tantrums and biting) in infants, toddlers and young children and positive child guidance strategies that are important as the basis for intervention and prevention.

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It is important to intervene in such a way that appropriate, pro-social behaviors are taught, modeled, and reinforced to ensure lifelong success. 18 June 2011 J M Badenhorst-Awasthi ID: 20090950 Introduction On average about 10 % of children younger than five display challenging behaviours (Tremblay, 2000).

There has been an increase of children exhibiting challenging behaviours serious enough for parents and teachers to get concerned about disrupting family functioning and classroom routines (Powell, Dunlap and Fox, 2006). It is necessary for parents and teachers (adults) to work collaboratively in identifying causes of challenging behaviour and implementing relevant positive child guidance strategies that will promote pro-social and acceptable behaviour (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003). Pro-social / Acceptable Behaviour

Conroy and Brown (2004) highlight the following skills or pro-social behaviours that children should acquire before the age of five (on average): Getting along with others Following directions Regulating and identifying emotions Conflict resolutions / solutions Persisting on a task Engaging in social conversations Cooperative play Positive Child Guidance [PCG] An increasingly familiar term in the field of Early Childhood Education is “Positive Child Guidance”. PCG techniques, instead of Punitive Discipline Techniques are endorsed by experts as the best way to respond to challenging behaviour (Flicker and Hoffman, 2002; Miller, 2007).

PCG is a process wherein adults use certain strategies, e. g. reasoning, giving choices, problem-solving, negotiation and redirection, when dealing with challenging behaviour (Miller, 2007; Porter, 2003). Challenging behaviours (e. g. tantrums and biting) are seen as an opportunity for negotiation, learning and resolution, instead of something that requires children to be disciplined or punished for (Berk, 2006; Miller, 2007). Factors that influence challenging behaviour According to Flicker and Hoffman (2004) there are various factors that influence challenging behaviour: ? ? ? ? ? Emotional: boredom, anxiety, low self-esteem, fear, overstimulation Family: sibling rivalry, divorce, domestic violence, abuse Classroom: overcrowding, too much clutter, excessive noise Physical: hunger, fatigue, illness, soiled nappy Learning difficulties: speech and language, ADD/ADHD Environmental: poor housing, poverty, community violence Before deciding on the most effective guidance strategy it is very important for adults to consider the (potential) contributing factors. PCG is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

It involves developing a close, trusting relationship with the children and parents and “individualizing” approaches (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003). TANTRUMS Definition A tantrum / temper tantrum is an emotional outburst, usually associated with children that are in emotional distress. Typical characteristics are crying, screaming, defiance, anger, stubbornness, ranting, resisting attempts to be pacified and sometimes hitting or kicking (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003). Tantrums most commonly happen when children believe (wrongly or rightly) that their wants (not necessarily their needs) are not being met (Ministry of Education [MoE], 1996).

Typically tantrums will occur in children aged between 16 months and three / four years (Berk, 2006). Influencing Factors The physical environment may affect young children’s behaviour, e. g. inadequate space, noise levels and traffic patterns in the classroom (Miller, 2007; Strain and Hemmeter, 1999). Classroom schedules and routines may be a factor. Children need routines but with some flexibility. It is often the transition times that prove most problematic (Miller, 2007).

Children might learn (after the first tantrum) that it is an effective way to get what they want and therefore keep repeating this behaviour (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003). Tantrums might occur when a child wants a toy that is being used by another child (jealousy) (Conroy and Brown, 2004). Often tantrums will happen when an adult says “no” to a child e. g. when changing or leaving an activity or fun place (e. g. when it’s time for tea / lunch) or when asked to do something they don’t want to do (e. g. cleaning up) (Tremblay, 2002). A CNN Health Report concluded that there are neurological influences for tantrums.

The prefrontal cortex, (part of the brain), which is responsible for emotional and social regulation is not yet developed in children and they are therefore less likely to have the required skills to negotiate a more controlled behaviour (New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003). Positive Child Guidance Strategies Teachers should make use of observations to establish which factor(s) is/are influencing tantrums. Only by understanding the factor can appropriate strategies be applied (Miller, 2007). There should be minimal disruptive transitions and fair warning before it occurs.

Ensure children know the routine. Teachers should model and praise appropriate behaviour (Miller, 2007). Adults should not give up / give in when a child has a tantrum. Children might learn that a tantrum is an effective and immediate means of getting what they want. Other children might learn and copy this behaviour (Alter and Conroy, 2006). Careful planning is very important. Teachers should identify potential triggers and formulate solutions in advance (MoE, 1996). Children with a tendency for tantrums should be encouraged to do relaxing activities such as water play, play dough or the sandpit.

It is inappropriate to expect toddlers to sit for long periods of time or to engage in large group activities. It is better to arrange short, engaging mat times and small group activities (Slee and Hemmeter, 1999). It is important to have enough toys so that all children have an opportunity to play at the same time. Some centres will deliberately have less toys to encourage problem-solving and negotiation skills. Through observations teachers should identify high interest toys and possible tantrums (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003). BITING Definition

Biting is a distressing and common behaviour for children aged between fourteen months and two years (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003). Influencing Factors Probably the most common factor for biting is that children of this age are frustrated when they are unable to use words to communicate their needs or wants. Toddlerhood is a time of strong emotions and few words. It is a time of many changes and the feelings (coupling these changes) can sometimes lead to biting (Berk, 2006). Changes that bring about strong emotions and stress can makes children more prone to biting, e. g. otty training, transitioning to a different room (age group in the centre) or a new sibling (Conroy and Brown, 2004). Sometimes infants and young toddlers might bite when they are teething. Biting eases the irritation and pain of teething (Berk, 2006; Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003). Hunger and thirst could also be an influencing factor (Berk, 2006). Infants use biting and sucking as a means of exploring and making sense of the physical world. Most objects (that is big enough) will go into an infant/ toddler’s mouth (Slee and Hemmeter, 1999). Sometimes children bite when they actually want to kiss someone (Conroy and Brown, 2004).

Biting may occur when children are seeking attention. This behaviour mostly causes disturbance and focuses the adult’s attention on the child who bites. Children could also investigate / experiment the cause and effect of biting – seeing / testing what will happen when biting (Conroy and Brown, 2004). Positive Child Guidance Strategies It is important for adults to talk to the child and acknowledge that these changes can be difficult and give the child the opportunity to express their feelings appropriately (Berk, 2006; Alter and Conroy, 2006). Teachers can ask the parents if the child has a favourite “teething toy”.

For toddlers a teething ring / toy can be pinned to their clothes (attached to a short string) and older children can carry a toy in their pockets. Adults should encourage children to use it when they feel like biting. Some children are comforted by a frozen teething toy as this numbs the area and eases discomfort more. For infants and toddlers the adult can wet a cloth and put it in the freezer. The child can easily suck and chew on this (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003). Toddlers and young children should not go for more than two hours without food.

It is also important that adults regularly offer children liquids as well. To ease late morning tendency of biting adults can offer a mid-morning snack that is crunchy and chewy such as pretzels, rice crackers or biscuits (Slee and Hemmeter, 1999). Adults should ensure that the objects that infants play with are not small enough to swallow. To measure the size of objects try fitting it inside a toilet paper roll. If it fits then it is too small. Adults should ensure that appropriate teething toys are available (Slee and Hemmeter, 1999). Teach children the appropriate way of showing affection.

How to kiss or hug can be taught. Children should first be taught to consider whether children want a hug or kiss. Adults should teach children to listen to the words that people use when they don’t want to be kissed (Conroy and Brown, 2004). To teach the child who has bitten empathy get him/her involved in calming and caring for the person who was bitten (e. g. getting an ice pack). If they see the obvious pain and discomfort and adults asking prompting questions it might discourage a child from biting again (Porter, 2003). Factors and Strategies for both Tantrums and Biting

There are some factors that may lead to both tantrums and biting which include boredom or frustration when children are not adequately engaged with peers, teachers or materials and activities in the centre or at home. Adults should ensure that the materials and activities are engaging, challenging and entertaining for all ages and stages of development. Children should be given a choice of activities which may minimize boredom or frustration (Porter, 2003). Feelings of jealousy or the need for love / attention could also cause tantrums and biting. It is important that adults treat each child equally and fairly.

Adults should be consistent in PCG strategy so children can know the boundaries, expectations and acceptable behaviour (Flicker and Hoffman, 2002). . There is a relationship between language inefficiency and challenging behaviours. Children with a language inability will often use tantrums or biting (although inappropriate) to communicate their needs (Hemmeter and Ostrosky, 2006). Hyter (2003) suggest that adults should help develop language skills through songs, repetitions and reading books (See Appendix C) so that children can express themselves verbally instead of resorting to tantrums or biting (Porter, 2003).

Conclusion This report highlighted various factors that influence challenging behaviour (tantrums and biting). For this reason adults (teachers and parents) should work collaboratively in identifying the influencing factor(s) and applying the most effective and appropriate prevention and intervention strategies to increase compliance and the child’s development of self regulation and appropriate pro-social behaviours (Berk, 2006; Fox, Dunlap and Cushing, 2002; Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003; Miller, 2007 ).

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Positive Child Guidance (Managing Challenging Behaviour - Tantrums and Biting). (2017, Jun 13). Retrieved March 29, 2020, from https://phdessay.com/positive-child-guidance-managing-challenging-behaviour-tantrums-and-biting/.