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4.10: Behavioral Considerations

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    Guiding the behavior of children is another important role that early childhood professionals possess. There are a plethora of programs designed to provide parents and early childhood professionals with the skills and tools that effectively help children navigate their emotions and the behaviors that they may exhibit at different developmental ages. Chapter 6 (Curriculum) has more extensive information on this topic. Below is a chart that provides some ideas about how to approach guidance positively.

    Table 5.2 – Positive Approaches for Developmental Factors [68]


    Developmental Factors

    Examples of a Positive Approach to developmental factors to manage behavior


    Children this age:

    • Actively explore environments
    • Like to take things apart
    • Have limited verbal ability, so biting or hitting to express feelings is common
    • Like to dump things over

    Children in this stage tend to dump and run, so plan games to enhance this behavior in a positive way. Have large wide-mouth bins for children to practice “dumping items” into and out of. This strategy redirects the behavior of creating a mess into a structured activity to match the development.

    Older Toddlers

    Children this age:

    • Need to run, climb, push and pull
    • Are incapable of sharing; waiting or taking turns
    • Express beginning independence
    • Work well with routines
    • Say “no” often
    • Comprehend more than they can verbally express

    Teachers of this age often find children trying to climb up on tables, chairs, and shelves. Incorporate developmentally climbing equipment and create obstacle courses to redirect activity into positive behaviors.


    Avoid using the word “no” and create expressions that teach what to do instead of what not to do.

    Young Preschool

    (3-4 years)

    Children this age:

    • Like to be active
    • Are curious and ask many questions
    • Express new fears and anxieties
    • Have little patience
    • Can clean up after themselves
    • Can take some responsibility
    • Seek adult approval

    Young preschoolers become curious and create many misconceptions as they create new schemas for understanding concepts. Listen to ideas sensitively address them quickly and honestly. Model exploration and engagement in new activities (especially ones they may be fearful of engaging in)

    Older Preschool

    (4-5 years)

    Children this age:

    • Are highly active
    • Can be “bossy”
    • Have an active imagination
    • Exaggerate stories
    • Often use “toilet words” in silly ways
    • Start things but don’t always finish

    Ask the children to create new silly, but appropriate words to represent emotions rather than focusing on the “bad” words they use.

    Young School-Age

    Children this age:

    • Are able to problem solve on their own
    • Begin to understand responsibility
    • Think in terms of fairness
    • Attempt to negotiate

    Fairness is a big issue for this group so working with this age group, a teacher should sit with children to develop “rules” and “consequences” so they can take ownership of behavioral expectations


    Pause to Reflect

    What makes the most sense to you about guiding children’s behavior? What seems confusing to you?

    This page titled 4.10: Behavioral Considerations is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Cindy Stephens, Gina Peterson, Sharon Eyrich, & Jennifer Paris (College of the Canyons) .