Case study – Toddler Liam the non-listener, climber, hitter, pusher, swearer……


Meeting children’s needs and interests

Are you listening to children to create the curriculum? Discover children’s interest to enhance positive behaviour and learning.

Case study – Liam the non-listener, climber, hitter, pusher, swearer……

Child misbehaves so the educator gives the child a clock, sits him in a space away from the other children and tells him to watch the second hand of the clock until it goes around. She tells him to think about his behaviour while watching the clock. The child is two years of age. Do you think this approach has worked?

A different approach to the clock – Liam – the architect and builder

Step 1 Find out what really interests the child

Step 2 Create curriculum and experiences to develop this child’s interest

Step 3 Scaffold the child’s knowledge as an intentional teacher

The wonderful educators Tegan and Mahalia set up the play experience below to extend upon a child’s interest in ‘diggers’ and construction. This process allows us to watch, join in and contribute to the play, but more importantly the children will show us what they know, can do and understand about construction.

This in turn will allow us to plan and extend the children’s knowledge in a meaningful way.

Extending Play in a meaningful way

Tegan built on children’s interest in the construction activities happening next to the service. Tegan asked, “Does anyone know what has to happen before construction begins on a building?”

The toddlers shrugged and some of them said “no.” Tegan showed them a video all about architects. “The buildings have to be designed first,” she explained. “An architect is what we call a person who designs buildings.” As the children watched the video their faces lit up with excitement and wonder! (Socio-cultural theories)

Liam expressed his desire to further his learning about architects. “Would you like to see some sketches done by architects Liam?” Tegan asked. “Yes!” he replied. As they searched for sketches Liam picked the ones he wanted printed.  Tegan saw an opportunity to extend Liam’s numeracy skills and asked, “What do you think these numbers mean?”

Liam shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Don’t know.” “Well they tell the builder how high to build the walls,” said Tegan. “Oh, very high!” he replied. “Do you think we could draw like an architect?” Tegan asked. “Yeah!” Liam yelled as he fist pumped his hand in the air.

Tegan handed him the sketch pad and placed the architect’s drawings next to him. Tegan drew the lounge room then Liam began by drawing the door for the lounge room. As he drew the different aspects of the house he referred back to the architect’s drawing as a guide.

One morning the toddlers followed on from their enjoyment of construction over the past week. Tegan brought Liam’s drawing over to a table with plasticine and small wooden sticks. Aiden, Liam, Harper, Scarlette, Lachlan, Sophia, Charlie and Bronte were excited to discover what Tegan was doing.

They sat down at the table as Tegan explained what the drawing was all about. “This is Liam’s plan of a house. This is the lounge room and this over here is the door to the lounge room.” She continued to explain the different aspects for the building as Liam relayed them to her the day before. “Do you think we could build some houses?” Tegan asked “Yeah!” called Scarlette and Harper.

“Okay, so what do you think we need to build first?” Tegan asked. See how Tegan is skillfully assessing the children’s knowledge.

“Roof!” called Liam. “Do you think a roof could stand all on its own?” Tegan questioned.

“Nah” Liam replied with a smile on his face. Tegan placed an architect’s sketch of a house on the table and pointed at the walls of the house. “What do we need to build the roof so it has something to sit on?” she asked. “Wall!” shouted Harper. “Yes, that’s right!” praised Tegan.

The children used concentration and patience as they slowing placed their pieces of wood into the plasticine, making sure it resembled the house they were trying to build. Harper referred back to the picture every so often to make sure she was still on track.

“What part of house is this?” Tegan asked as she pointed to one of the sticks Harper had placed on the outside of her plasticine. “Wall” Harper replied. “That’s great Harper. What else do you think you need to build?” Tegan asked. Harper glanced back at Liam’s picture and laughed. “Door!” she giggled.

The houses look wonderful! We can’t wait to discover what else we can discover about construction.

Painting with a purpose

In the photos below you can see how the educators skilfully explored and extended children’s knowledge about architecture and design through a purposeful painting activity.

Curriculum display

Here is a display of the learning and samples of documentation. The educators were able to show the parents what they had been learning about and invite them to assist in extending learning further. “Oh that makes sense now,” said a mother. “We have been talking about building a new house at home.”


Case study – Jackson the non-listener, swearer, rude…


Which child’s name is used the most in your room?

Why? Is it because you must instruct this child the most, usually in a way that is moving them on from an inappropriate behaviour? Try this method below to change the behaviour in your room.

When we talk about behaviour we say we need to meet the child’s needs, but what does that really mean? The steps to meeting children’s needs are:

  1. Know the child from many different perspectives
  2. Write ideas to create curriculum for this child
  3. Implement these ideas
  4. Evaluate and adjust
  5. Repeat

Case study 3 Jackson the non-listener, swearer, rude……

To meet Jackson’s needs we need to know him and create curriculum just for him.

We need to look at this from:

  • Jackson’s Perspective
  • Parent’s Perspective
  • Educator’s Perspective
  • Director’s Perspective

Step 1 what do we know about Jackson?


  • comes to the service 5 days a week
  • lives with his mother and big sister
  • loves trucks, diggers and heavy machinery
  • has a room full of toy trucks, diggers and heavy machinery
  • has many pets including birds of all different types
  • went to see the snow on the weekend
  • loves spending time at Pop’s farm
  • sings with a microphone at his Grandparent’s place
  • is great around animals. I’ve seen him walking with cows and sheep
  • knows a lot about hand raising animals
  • loves fixing mechanical things with his Pop
  • finds building easy. He loves to build and fix things
  • helped his Pop and Mum build their bird cage at home
  • loves to climb. He climbs trees, the tyre tower, on and off the tractor
  • has lots of energy.
Step 2 - Write ideas to create curriculum for this child
What we know Comments and Ideas
Jackson comes 5 days a week Is Jackson bored? Is our equipment really interesting to him? Has he seen it all before? Is Jackson given a voice on what he wants to do? Have we asked him? What could Jackson teach us and the other children?
Jackson lives with his mother and big sister Could we go for a home visit?
Jackson loves trucks, diggers and heavy machinery What does Jackson know about this? We need 5-7 cm ofsoil removed from our mud patch and taken over to the trees in the corner and built up so the chooks don’t get out. Could Jackson be in charge of that? Make a plan, get him to organise, write it, draw it and implement it. Make a big deal out of it.
Jackson has many pets including birds of all different types What can Jackson teach the other children about birds and their care? Could he run lessons in the class to do this? His mum could help prepare it at home with him.
Jackson went to the snow on the weekend I want to know everything about snow -how it is made, how high it has to be before it falls, where they saw it? How could they make snow?
Jackson loves spending time at Pop’s farm What do they do on the farm that we could do here in the centre? For example using a wood work bench and tools. Could we introduce that? Ring Pop to find out more about Jackson and his farm skills we could implement here. What would happen if we asked Pop for help? What could he help with?
Jackson sings with a microphone at his Grandparent’s place We have a karaoke machine and mic in the storeroom. Open mic night here we come.
I heard from a preschool that use a mic at group time and each child speaks into it, one at a time, building talking and listening skills. What a great literacy project, following words on a screen to sing.
Jackson is great around animals. I have seen him walking with cows and sheep Can Pop bring in an animal and we get Jackson and Pop to tell the other children all about it and how to care for it? If we don’t ask we will never know.
Jackson loves fixing mechanical things with his Pop Why haven’t we got old machinery and lawn mower motors out to fix and pull apart? What would happen if we again asked Pop for help or other fathers who could have motors etc.
Building is easy for Jackson. He loves to build and fix things What could he build with a plan and real material? Who knows? A new playground? We sure do need it.
Jackson loves to climb. He climbs trees, the tyre tower, on and off the tractor Where could we go to climb? What could we build to climb? How would we involve Jackson in designing the best ever climbing thing. Could he build a ladder to fill the parent pockets with information?
Jackson has lots of energy Do we need to add a heap more exercise 2 to 3 times a day to wear him out? Should we introduce heavy things to move around, like a sled?

Step 3 Implement these ideas.

Remember the guiding principle is ‘Meeting the Child’s needs.” Jackson’s needs are he wants to be a part of this learning environment and do what the adults are doing. Jackson needs to:

  • Be listened to. He needs to tell you and everybody how much he knows about his world
  • Be a teacher. He wants to show and help others understand about animals and farms because he gets so much pleasure from being on the farm and hanging out with Pop
  • He is always helping Pop and his Mum do things and fix things so he wants to show you how good he is at that.

Jackson to give the class lessons

Get Jackson to give a lesson about what he knows egrRaising lambs, cows, fixing bikes etc. Also at the same time get Jackson’s friend who has a huge interest in pigs to talk about them.

The lesson needs to be 1 minute of Jackson talking, 1 minute with the group of children and educators asking questions and sharing knowledge. This can continue for as long as needed, but ensure you keep going around in one minute blocks. This will encourage turn taking.

At this time educators write down what the children know.

Jackson says “sheep need help because their mother loses them.” Jonty says “the lamb’s wool is soft.” And it goes on and on.

After the lesson add pictures and get Jackson to display the documentation eg hang them in the hallway. Remember he needs to be in control of this lesson, putting it together and displaying it. Jackson and friend are to then take a friend, one at a time, to the display and teach them more about the lambs and pigs. For example Jackson takes Charlotte to learn more about lambs.

Then welcome them back. “Thanks Jackson for bringing Charlotte back. Now Charlotte can you tell me what Jackson taught you about the lambs? Great teaching Jackson. Ask another friend to go out and learn more about lambs with you.”

Repeat the process. This will create trusting relationships and Jackson will have a sense of achievement and a sense of your approval.

Idea to ensure his need for helping is met. Getting the playground ready.

You stand near the door for supervision.

Jackson will be in the yard by himself, but you will be able to see him at all times.

Jackson gets the bikes out of the shed one at a time.

Jackson checks bikes for spiders.

Jackson cleans bikes ready for use by the other children.

Words you need to say

“Jackson, get five bikes out of the shed.  You need to get one at a time. Great work Jackson, this will be a great help to me.

Fantastic, one bike, four to go. (count down and repeat)

Check it for spiders. Make sure it’s a proper look. You know how they can get into small spaces.

Great work Jackson. You are good at looking for spiders. Keep going, 3 bikes to go.

Now you need to wipe and clean the bikes ready for the others to play on. Great.”


Case study – Aiden the non-listener, yelling, swearer……


The wild ones – children swearing

There was a call for help from an educator. What was the problem? Certain children were difficult to manage and entering the room this appeared to be correct. The educators said Wednesday’s are difficult in the preschool room. Why? The combination of certain children makes it difficult along with the skill set of the educators in the room.

I removed the ring leader to have a chat. Aiden aged 4 didn’t like it in the room with the some of the educators. I proceeded to use a ‘Child Conference’ process which can be found in the Mosaic Approach book by Alison Clark and Peter Moss. I asked these questions.

  • Why do you come to school? (long day care but the children call it school)
  • What do you like best?
  • What don’t you like about being here?
  • Who are your favourite people?
  • Who don’t you like?
  • What do the grown-ups do at school?
  • What should the grown-ups do at your school?
  • Where is your favourite place in the school?
  • Which part of the school don’t you like?
  • What do you find difficult?
  • What is the food like?
  • What has been the best day at school?

Very interesting answers were revealed. Basically, the children were not listened to and were forced to do things they didn’t want to do. This led to a rebellion and our wonderful 4 year old leader told Eden the educator to F&#*K OFF.

Eden was angry and thought no child should speak to her like that. I said “if he had more words and better use of them would it still be F&#*K OFF?”

After reflecting further and removing the adult concept that the child should never speak like this (which I agree with) we thought the Rebellion Leader may have wanted to say other words to express how he felt. For example:

“I come here 5 days a week and I would like more choices to do what I want.”

“I haven’t finished playing over here. When I’m finished I’ll pack up and join your group, but give me 5 more minutes.”

“I know it’s raining, but really, do we need to be stuck inside. I live on a farm and I like it outside, just like my dad. He works outside in the rain on the farm.”

“I get really angry when I’m stopped abruptly. Can you ease your requests in with some warning?”

To solve this problem the educators decided to give the children more choice. This was simple. Get an ‘A’ frame board and write down what the children want to do.

From here the children selected their activities and did what they wanted. Picture above is the end of the day where the choices are rubbed off when complete.

The “Wild Ones” decided they wanted to play in the rain. What do we do then? Was this fun? YES. Was it all perfect and ran smoothly? NO


What went wrong? Everything was great and a water fight began and lasted until they started to throw pots at each other. Eden stopped this quickly and the fun continued. After a while the children decided it was time to come in. Off to the bathroom they went and made a huge mess with water and wet clothes. Was this great for the other room who shared the bathroom? NO. Eden and the boys went to the laundry and washed their clothes and changed into their clean set.

The following day the boys wanted to do the same. Perfect time to use our reflections to adjust practice. Rules needed to be set. The boys could describe exactly the problem for others if the bathroom floor was wet. The bathroom door was locked so the children from the outside couldn’t get in and the fun began.

New parent turned up for a tour

As the fun was in full swing a new parent and daughter turned up for a tour of the service and discovered the Wild Ones and ….

Mud Monsters started
to appear.

This was a great opportunity to sell the service. Why we are different, firstly I explained that this may look a little wild, but we allow our children to follow their interest and we are capable of washing and drying clothes so they don’t have to worry. I described how we met the needs of children and sometimes these needs included children exploring the outdoor environment and from somewhere in the deep part of my brain the EYLF came to me and I quoted to this parent:

“Outdoor learning spaces are a feature of Australian learning environments. They offer a vast array of possibilities not available indoors. Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water and other elements from nature. These spaces invite open-ended interactions, spontaneity, risk-taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature.” EYLF

Or close to it.

The most important part with this parent was walking into the preschool room from the outside and having all the other children actively engaged in all the activities they wanted to do. This justified to the parent why it’s important to allow these children to have fun, explore, go a little wild because they were not difficult to manage outside and allowed the space inside for the other children to do what they wanted to do. This parent could see we could manage our children which in turn gave space for children like her daughter to learn and be in an environment that wasn’t struggling with others.

Further learning continued and we explored cultures that like mud.

This is a work in progress. It would be easy to shut it down after the bathroom water and clothes explosion, but that is what reflection is all about, reflecting on what could be different and together setting the rules.

Further reflections

How many times do we try to control some children in environments they are not suited for?

Reflecting on your values

Megan needed to reflect on what she thought was important for children. Previously she had success when following the children interest, she was great, but when she didn’t she got angry because the children don’t do what they wanted to do. But why should the educator be dominating children’s choices?

Where is the child’s agency? Children come to us with an inbuilt knowledge of what is culturally acceptable when they are a part of the process. Remove them from the process and you will have a bad day, just like Megan, Eliza and Eden were having on Wednesdays.

The underlying process is building relationships. The relationship strengthens when involving the children and all you will need to do with your behaviour guidance is look disappointed and say “is that a good choice?” When relationships are not built, they will not care if it is a good choice or not.

The confronting reflection

Children are smart and know what they are doing. I’ve seen children push out teachers. I first saw it in high schools. If there was a bad teacher the children wouldn’t select the elective until the hours dropped and the teacher was transferred out of the school.

Secondly, in early childhood we are quick to judge the child as having the problem, but I’ve seen children push out teachers. This year Aiden pushed out an ex- teacher. She never wanted to do what the children wanted. She wanted to do what she thought was best. Aiden became loud and uncontrollable for her and stressed her out. From my perspective, she never took my advice and continued to attempt to control Aiden and the room. Aiden won.

Aiden was in the process of pushing out Megan and Eden. They are the ones who must change. After a few days of a new practice it appears to be working. I wonder if the educators will continue or go back to their old ways until they leave stressed out?


Have you tried a ‘Home Visits’ to help with behaviour issues?


Home Visits

Some services implement home visits to foster relationships with parents and children. At one service they offer home visits to all families. Each visit takes 45-60 minutes and is carried out by two educators who have a set list of questions to ask. This ensures they find out about the child’s family, routines, favourite songs and activities. Some of the benefits include:

  • improved relationships with parents – educators get to know parents outside the service which allows parents to explain home routines and gives educators an opportunity to collect a wealth of information about their family
  • improved relationships with children – educators engage with children in their own home
  • greater insight for reflective practice – educators have improved understanding of children’s behaviour and learning
  • provision of more enriching educational program based on extension of activities undertaken at home
  • helping new children settle on their first day. Children have already had an opportunity to meet an educator and play with them in their own familiar space.

After a home visit most of the behaviour issues disappear.


How do I stop children from swearing?


Swearing Children – Just lovely

Swearing has become a part of our language in the everyday. If you watch TV after 8:30pm we hear it all the time. Many parents are swearing in front of children, but we don’t need to accept it in our centre.

Step 1 Write down some examples of what you have heard when a child swears

Step 2 What is the child trying to say?

Step 3 Come up with a better vocabulary for the child to use. Ensure the new words and sentences are difficult to say. This then gives the child a real challenge and when they achieve this they will then have a sense of achievement.

Let’s put it into practice.

Step 1 “You’re a F*#king C*%t Rachel” said Jackson. True story….

Step 2 What is the child really trying to say?

I’m frustrated that you are not allowing me to _______________ (please fill in the blank)

Step 3 We don’t use words like that here at our centre. Let me give you better words to use.

I’m furiously frustrated at you Miss Rachel. I would like to continue here playing with…

I’m wrathfully irritated at you Miss Rachel. I would like to continue here playing with…

I’m irately exasperated at you Miss Rachel. I would like to continue here playing with…

Step 3a Write the words down in foundation font and display it on a word board. Teach all the children the new words.

Praise the children for using them.

Children love to learn new words. Now practice.


What do I do with a defiant child?


A defiant child

A defiant child wants to be just like you and do everything you are doing, but you stop them. They want to be the teacher in every way, so let them.

Step 1 What is the child trying to say? What does the child need? Do they need to show you how they can do what you are doing?

Step 2 Think of the end result you want ie serve lunch.

Step 3 Give the lunch problem to your defiant child to solve and step back out of their way.

This works well with all aspects of the routine. When children contribute to activities and routines everyone gains both energy and confidence. We usually do too much for children because we are caught up in our timeframe and adult routine. We jump in and set the table, serve their lunch, make their beds, sweep and mop the floor etc. How do children feel when this occurs? While it may take much longer when children assist, they get a sense of achievement.


How do I stop children from biting?


Biting – how do I stop children from biting?

For some toddlers, biting is a frequent form of aggression. For staff, biting outbursts can be highly stressful to deal with both at the children’s level and a family member’s level.

Biting as a tool of language

Step 1 Identify it and teach the new language that is missing

Step 2 Work with families – essential

It is most common for biting to occur in the toddler age range and may be associated with developmental issues such as limited speech and language development and skills, poor self control or a lack of understanding of the consequences.

Establish any reasons such as delayed speech, overtiredness, hunger, impatience etc. Observe and discuss these concerns with family members to encourage a holistic approach. Perform preventative measures such as changing routines, removing the child from high risk situations and monitor food and sleep levels.

Coaching children will empower them in dealing with conflict in a more positive manner. For example, teach the victims of biting to say “Stop” and immediately seek the help of an adult. Praise and acknowledge successful social interactions.

Reprimanding, removing and firmly asserting “No biting” may be necessary.  In the previous exercises we have practiced not saying NO. When we reduce the use of the word NO it will be effective when we need to use it – for example, “No Biting.”

Consistency among educators in this process is particularly important. This may include educating adults on how to react appropriately to instances of biting.

If the biting continues we need to shadow the child at all times.

Biting as a cultural learnt behaviour

Step 1 Identify it and teach new ways to interact

Step 2 Work with families – essential

For example, a child comes from a Greek family where all Aunties ‘eat the child’ when they kiss them. It’s not just a kiss on the cheek. The child doesn’t understand fully, reproduces it and bites accidentally.

Teach different ways to interact and show how their actions were meant for good but hurt.


How do I teach children to be calm?


Teaching children how to be calm

Calmness and mindfulness is an open and friendly willingness to understand what is going on in and around you. It means living in the present moment (which is not the same as thinking about the present moment) without judging or ignoring anything or getting carried away by the pressures of everyday life. When you are mindful while waking up, eating lunch, playing, or with every major and minor conflict, your mind is not elsewhere but right there in the moment.

You save energy, as you are aware of what is happening while it is happening. This mindful, friendly presence changes your behaviour as well as your attitude toward yourself and other children. Mindfulness is feeling the sun on your skin, feeling the salty tears rolling down your cheeks, feeling a ripple of frustration in your body. Mindfulness is experiencing both joy and misery as and when they occur, without having to do something about it or having an immediate reaction or opinion.

Mindfulness is directing your friendly awareness to the here and now, at every moment. But mindfulness practice involves some effort and intentionality.

Calmness and mindfulness
can be learnt.

How to do mindfulness with children

There is a great book called Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by, Eline Snel.  

Could you BE A FROG?

You could introduce the exercise as follows: “A frog is a remarkable creature. It is capable of enormous leaps, but it can also sit very, very still. Although it is aware of everything that happens in and around it, the frog tends not to react right away. The frog sits still and breathes, preserving its energy instead of getting carried away by all the ideas that keep popping into its head. The frog sits still, very still, while it breathes. Its frog tummy rises a bit and falls again. It rises and falls. “Anything a frog can do, you can do too. All you need is mindful attention. Attention to the breath. Attention and peace and quiet.”

LOOK BUT DON’T JUDGE. When you learn to look at things without interference from your thoughts, you will realise that you are seeing more—and interpreting less. You will also retain more, because when you look attentively, you really see things.

Here is an exercise for young children. Try to remember five things that you see (a tree, a traffic sign, an unusual house, the entrance to your school, the classroom door). What do they look like? You can train yourself to see more and more properties of the tree or the traffic sign, such as colours and shapes, spots and stripes. By looking without judging whether something is pretty or ugly, you will see more of the world around you.

LISTENING TO A SOUND without immediately wanting to label it strengthens our ability to really listen to one another. What sounds can you hear right now? Are they high- or low-pitched, humming or buzzing sounds? Can you detect some kind of rhythm? Are the sounds behind you or in front of you? Far away or close? Are they outside you? Can you hear any sounds inside yourself?

EATING WITH MINDFUL ATTENTION may seem simple, but it can be quite a challenge. Try to get all the children to eat one attentive mouthful without comments such as “Ugh,”“Yummy,”“We eat this all the time,” or “I don’t like this.” It can be a surprising experience. Discuss what you smell, notice, taste, and feel in your mouth when you take a mindful bite. Hold it in your mouth for a moment, and swallow. Take a bite and note the following:

  • What do you really taste once you stop thinking about the food being either tasty or nasty? (Remember, these are just thoughts.)
  • Do you have a salty, sweet or bitter taste in your mouth? Or a mixture of all three?
  • Does it feel hard or soft in your mouth? Rough or smooth?
  • What is happening in your mouth while you are eating? What do you experience? Can you feel your mouth watering? What is your tongue doing? What happens when you swallow? And when do you lose track of your mouthful?

There are great books regarding mindfulness and calmness for children such as


What do I do when children’s behaviour is aggressive?


Children pushing children – She just pushed another child

If this is a younger child, we would go over to the child, get down to their height and say calmly and with a soft voice. “Hands down” (you may need to physically guide them down).

“Be gentle with our friends”. Then we redirect, let’s push the bike

Please remember, with all new strategies it may take practice and time. You may need to practice for weeks.

Aggressive older behaviours – Go back in time

Some children will demonstrate aggressive behaviours. These may be verbal or non‐ verbal.

In this situation there is not much you can do to stop it other than letting it burn out.

It is important to respond quickly to ensure the safety of the child, other children, staff and visitors. Remove all the children away from the aggressor if you can. When responding to aggressive behaviours, we must aim to:

  • Comfort the victim of the aggressive behaviour

It may take up to 20 minutes for the child to be able to reason with you and talk after the outburst. The neocortex in the brain has shut down and raw emotions are controlling the behaviour at this point in time. Be patient and go in with a big bundle of love, care and emotional support.

Sometimes we jump in and accuse the child of behaving in a way that is inappropriate. For example, a child hits another child. We see the victim and automatically blame the other child. What is worse we say things like “get over here now Max. We need to talk about your behaviour” or “what have you done now Max?”

A better way to deal with these situations is to reverse time.

Step 1 Ensure the victim is okay and doesn’t require medical attention.

Step 2 Go over to the aggressive child calmly and say “(Child’s name)  can you tell me what happened?”

Step 3 Let the child tell their version of events

Step 4 Go back in time and show the child another way of dealing with the situation.

What is the best way to talk to children when their behaviour is challenging you? Respond but don’t react.

If you’re feeling really challenged, count to three to settle yourself, Try not to shout, you will lose all credibility with a child if you shout and they will think they have won because they now know how to press your buttons for a reaction. You need to be the best role model and teach the behaviours you want to see.

If you feel like you are about to shout, turn around, take a deep breathe in slowly turn back and start talking quietly, assertively. This works really well, remember the time when your mother was really really angry and you knew it was going to bad because she went quiet? You knew it was bad, and so will children, the calmer you are the more serious they know it will be. We go into a lot more detail later with children who are having a meltdown, but this example is pre meltdown children.

Go to the child, touch and gain eye contact and attention, then say, ‘Listen .. .’ Look into the child’s eyes as you set boundaries. This will help you to remain focused and not fly into a rage. Using the word ‘Listen’ before you start any sentence with a child is a good strategy to get them focused about what you are going to say.

Remember, if the child behaves appropriately, always praise: ‘Good listening!’

You need to calmly stand your ground and quietly but firmly repeat your request up to three times. Ignore protests, and repeat your request. Give children time to process the request and your serious demeanour.

Counting down from ten to one can help everyone settle, and can be a game to play, giving a child time to respond to the request.

Practice straightening your shoulders and spine, opening your chest (your heart) to be lovingly assertive, just and fair.

Choose a word to signal a change is required. It may be ‘Listen’ (as discussed earlier), ‘Stop’, or when older, ‘Not appropriate’, before explaining the appropriate behaviour. If this is done with consistency, the child will get the message.

Talk with your other educators and see if you can follow the same process. If not do it your way and the others will follow what works.

Meltdowns – Sometime the best strategy is to walk away

When a meltdown occurs walk away and get the other children to follow you. You need to ensure the safety of the other children, yourself and other educators first. When a child is having a meltdown there is very little you can at the peak of the meltdown, as the child’s thinking and reasoning part of their brain has completely closed down.

When they come out of the meltdown start describing what emotions you saw coming from the child.

“I could see you were very angry, very distressed, wait with long pausing before going on, I could see you not happy”.

 “When you are ready, I’m here for you and you can come and tell me how you felt so we can work out what we can do”.


What do I do when children climb on furniture and run inside?


She is climbing on the furniture

What do I do when I see a child climbing on the furniture?

Never yell across the room

“Annabel get down from there now,” yelled Holly. Of course, Annabel didn’t listen and proceeded to climb on the bookcase.

What are the steps we need to take?

Step 1 See the child doing something that isn’t appropriate

Step 2 Calmly walk over to the child and get down to their eye level

Step 3 In a caring voice redirect the child into a safer place

Step 4 Tell the child how much you care for them and you are there to look after them and keep them safe

Walk calmly over to the child, get down to their level and say “Annabel, I need you to come down from there and go over to the block corner and play. I can’t let you fall and hurt yourself because I would feel very bad if you were hurt.  I need to keep you safe and look after you until your Mum comes in today.”

What do I do when the children are running inside?

A lot of behaviours we perceive as not good are usually just in the wrong location. When this happens we need to learn how to redirect the children. For example

Child is running inside. (running is good, wrong location)

Stand at the door and ask them “Can you run to the tree and back three times?” standing at the door ensure you still have the ability to supervise them.

Imagine a Child is climbing on furniture (gross motor good, wrong location)

Let’s take these great climbing skills outside on our tyre tower.

Then you need to reflect, am I providing enough physical activities for these active children? If not adjust your program to add more physical activities.