Wednesday, 24 October 2018 01:26

Behaviour - The Tip Of The Iceberg

Behaviour - The Tip Of The Iceburg Behaviour - The Tip Of The Iceburg Ollie Lauder MICCC

There is a strong interconnecting relationship between the behaviours we see  from children and the feelings we can’t see that manifest inside them. The question we need to be asking ourselves is NOT what are they crying/hurting/stealing for?.... but, WHAT ARE THEY CRYING OUT FOR? At a recent Gowrie inclusion training I received a list that broke down the feelings of Happy, Sad, Angry, Confused, Scared, Weak, Strong (see attached). This list has helped me, by process of elimination really pinpoint what children may be feeling and have deeper conversations with the child, other educators and families.

It is a real challenge for young children to learn the skills to self-regulate. Feelings and emotions can be overwhelming for adults even when they understand the differences between feelings and they know the reasons behind their feelings. So imagine how it feels for a child who is yet to understand why they are feeling how they are and what the presenting feeling is. Although children in play may seem like ducks on the water, underneath their little legs could be out of control trying to keep them afloat, the slightest change in their care/play environments could set them off. As educators it is our role to support the wellbeing of our children and provide a supportive environment where they can explore all these feelings and emotions in a safe, non-judgmental space. When we see even the smallest presentation of a behaviour we know to look much deeper than the surface. Even if children do not have the verbal language to communicate how they are feeling, their body language, facial expressions and actions are communicating something to us too, so we continue to observe them.

What is really important for children is that they are provided opportunities to guide their own behaviour and regulation so they can develop necessary life skills. We role model regulation skills with children like different breathing techniques and appropriate language, we help children to recognise how feelings present for different people and label emotions. In all our rooms we provide safe/quiet spaces for the children to retreat to when their body is signalling they need to rest. In our Coral Room we created a calm basket with the children that they can access at anytime, it includes a soft comfort toy, calming glitter bottles and visual breathing reminders. We work in partnership with families, having regular discussions about what is happening at home; new siblings, moving house, guests in your home, transitions, changes in routines, feeling unwell, medical challenges, holidays, new jobs or adjusted work hours for parents, any form of family stress that may seem minor can have a huge impact on a child. It helps when we can work together with families to monitor child wellbeing and keep strategies and routines similar so the children aren’t confused. 

There are always going to be different levels of behaviour acceptance/guidance between the home and childcare environments so it is important that children know where they stand. At Margaret Ives we focus on four key words to help children reflect on their own words and actions; Respect, Kind, Responsible and Safe. This gives children an opportunity to problem solve their own behavioural challenges so they can think about strategies to move forward. In fact acknowledging kind, respectful, safe and responsible language and interactions at any age is a really positive way forward, as is learning to share power with children and supporting them to make their own choices and decisions.

It is also vital to support children’s emotional intelligence, explaining what is happening around them and helping them identify the cause and effect of their behaviours. This is part of educator practice in all rooms, with our Coral Room having a specific focus on recognising feelings, emotions and warning signs during their child protection curriculum week each term. When one child hurts another we work really hard to support those children to read each other’s body language while we try and grasp the bigger underlying picture. Most of all we are constantly working on developing children’s listening and communication skills. Right now in the Coral Room we are playing barrier games with the children so they can see how listening, instruction and interpretation impact on outcomes. The children are equipped with the exact same materials and one listens to the other describe how they are placing their objects or drawing their picture, not only does this build their descriptive vocabulary, fine motor skills and mathematical language, it supports the development of active listening and creates an opportunity to problem solve and think about how and why the final creations were or weren’t the same at the end, once the barrier was removed. Children are becoming aware of different levels of understanding and interpretation, that there is always another way and that doesn’t mean someone is wrong or right.... a very useful tool for children to reflect on when they are self-regulating.

Yelling at or punishing children when they present with challenging behaviours is never going to be the answer. Don’t look at the obvious iceberg, look deeper and discover a child’s real feelings because there is always a reason. Find opportunities in everyday life to equip these children with the tools they need to identify their own feelings, regulate their own emotions and develop their emotional intelligence. By chipping away at the iceberg below the surface it will become much less visible at the surface.


Book a Tour Now


Contact Us Today