Managing Challenging Behaviour in Young Children

Parenting a child with challenging behaviour can be tough, but there are some things you can try to support them and create a happier atmosphere at home.

managing challenging behaviour

It’s important to let your child know that you love them, even if you don’t always like the behaviour they display.

Every day, perhaps at bath-time or on the way home from nursery or school, set aside some time to have fun together. Give your child your undivided attention, allow them to choose an activity and make sure they know you enjoy engaging and playing with them.

These precious moments boost self-esteem for both of you and present the opportunity for you to encourage positive behaviour.

Another way to avoid tantrums and outbursts is to create a home environment where your child can succeed. At our nursery, we make sure this includes comfortable play areas and selected toys that interest the children, are well organised and within their reach.

Anticipating disruptions to your child and dealing with them before they happen, is another way to help avoid challenging behaviour. For example, if you serve dinner on the dining table, suggest your child does their colouring on the coffee table so they won’t have to put it away when you sit down to eat. Likewise, if your child becomes unhappy when they’re hungry, plan ahead and give them a snack before you go shopping.

managing challenging behaviour

Setting clear limits and sticking to them is important. Only ask your child to do things when you have time to adhere fully to the rules you’ve put in place. For example, if you’re running late for an appointment and there’s a possibility that asking your child to tidy up some toys may cause challenging behaviour, leave them as they are if you don’t have time to deal with the situation appropriately.

Creating routines and following them is also key. Routines are useful as your child will know what’s going to happen next and feel settled and happy as a result. When it comes to activities, it’s important to give notice of changes in advance. For instance, before leaving the park, you could say to your child: ‘You can stay on the swings five more minutes before we go home.’

Recognising anxiety and the need to be listened to and acknowledged is important. When your child whines, that’s your cue to give them a smile and ask what the matter is, looking carefully. Catching the problem at this early stage can head off challenging behaviour.

managing challenging behaviour

Our nursery staff distract children or prevent negative behaviour by engaging them in distracting sensory activities such as making playdough or baking.

All activities should be based on your child’s interests. Try to complete these activities together at home, giving you an opportunity to bond with your child and stimulate them at the same time.

To find out more about LEYF’s approach to learning, or find your nearest LEYF nursery, please visit their website here.

Written and edited by Mica Lawrence and Maryanne McGregor from Townmead Community Nursery in Fulham, part of the London Early Years Foundation)

About London Early Years Foundation

The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) are the UK’s largest childcare social enterprise with 38 nurseries across London, 15 of which have been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. LEYF provides award winning care and education to children under 5 and were recently named ‘Nursery Group of the Year 2015’ by Nursery Management Today. They write regularly, sharing tips and advice on all things early years and child development from their expert nursery staff.

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