Unit 6.2 Guidance

Children’s behaviour is influenced by many factors, from the time of the day to the amount of sleep they had the night before, but some of the most significant things that impact on a child’s behavior are:

  • The adults who care for them
  • Their age and stage of development
  • Their environment and routines

The goal of guidance is to assist children in developing respect, self- control, self-confidence and sensitivity in their interactions with others.

Adults who recognize that growth in children includes both experimentations and making mistakes are more likely to be accepting and patient with socially unacceptable behaviours. It is important for adults to have reasonable expectations, which are consistent with each child’s developmental abilities.

By nature children differ in terms of their level of activity, distractibility and sensitivity. This is called temperament. It is important for adults who work with children to take enough time to notice each child’s temperament. Acknowledging temperament allows the child care provider to work with the child’s inborn trait instead of trying to change the child.

Child care providers who are knowledgeable about the ways in which environments influence behaviour can plan their setting accordingly. It is important that the environment promotes good health and reduces the potential for problems.

Adults who are committed to nurturing and guiding young children create an atmosphere which fosters trust, security and comfort.

Child care providers model behavior they wish children to learn. This includes verbal and physical communication.

Child guidance is not about discipline and it is not about punishment. It is about helping children to reach their full potential.

BC Health Brochure: ” Guiding Children’s Behaviour”

Points to remember when a child misbehaves:

  • Your goal is to help the child learn appropriate behaviours, not to punish the child for misbehaviour
  • Never respond to a child’s behaviour with anger. If necessary, take a few deep breaths and count to ten and calm yourself before you respond. You may also ask for a time-out for yourself and have a co-worker step in to support you.
  • Appropriate limits have to be geared to the child’s age and suited to the child’s temperament. You can’t have the same behavior expectations of a two-year old that you do of a five year old. In the same way, a really adventurous two-year old may need more reminders about acceptable risk levels (you may climb on the cushions, you may not climb the railing) that a timid or less active two-year old may not need to be reminded of.
  • The techniques to guide behaviour that work with one child may not work with another, even if they are the same stage of development. You may have to try a variety of guidance techniques before you find what is effective
  • It is important to recognize that children have strong feelings. You must accept a child’s feelings, while still putting limits on the expression of his/her feelings. “It is okay to be sad that you lost the ball, but you may not hit Rosa.” Never deny or discount a child’s feelings.
  • Link comments to what the child did, not to the child himself. Focus on the behavior and what was inappropriate. Do not label the child as “bad” or “naughty”. If a toddler throws a block, address the behavior: “You may not throw blocks. Blocks are for building.
  • Young children need repetition to learn and may not carry over what we have said to a new situation. It may be necessary to keep telling and showing children appropriate behaviour even if you have already told them several times.
  • If you experience a persistent problem with a child, talk with the parents about the situation. Has there been a change in the child’s routines at home? Have the parents been experiencing similar problems at home? How are they handling it? How could you and the parents work together to help the child.
  • Share ideas and problems with other caregivers to get support and information. Attend courses and workshops and read guidance material to help you make changes.