At Ladybird Pre-School Nursery we believe that children flourish best when their personal, social and emotional needs are met and where there are clear and developmentally appropriate expectations for their behaviour.
Children need to consider the views and feelings, needs and rights of others and the impact that their behaviour has on people, places and objects. This is a developmental task that requires support, encouragement and teaching. The principles that underpin how we achieve positive and considerate behaviour exist within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for promoting personal, social and emotional development and support British values.
Yvonne May is the Nursery’s named Behaviour Coordinator and has overall responsibility for issues concerning behaviour.
She is required to:
- keep herself up to date with current legislation, research and thinking on promoting positive behaviour and on handling children’s behaviour where it may require additional support such as Behaviour and Self Regulation training and Emotional Regulation and Behaviour support training.
- access relevant sources of expertise on promoting positive behaviour within the EYFS for supporting personal, social and emotional development; and
- check that all staff have relevant in-service training on promoting positive behaviour.
The Nursery recognises that codes for interacting with other people vary between cultures and require staff to be aware of and respect those used by them. We require all staff members, volunteers and students to provide a positive model of behaviour by treating children, parents/carers and one another with friendliness, care and courtesy. We model good behaviour in the environment by taking care of wildlife, plants, etc.
We familiarise new staff, volunteers and students with the Nursery’s behaviour policy and its guidelines for behaviour through our induction process. We expect all members of our Nursery – children, parents/carers, staff, volunteers and students – to keep to the guidelines, requiring these to be applied consistently.
We work in partnership with children’s parents/carers. They are regularly informed about their children’s behaviour by their key person or Yvonne May. We work with parents/carers to address recurring challenging behaviour, using our observations records to help us understand the cause and to decide jointly how to respond appropriately. With parent’s/carer’s consent a behaviour plan will be implemented if it is felt necessary.
Strategies with Children who Engage in Challenging Behaviour
- We require all staff, volunteers and students to use positive strategies for handling any challenging behaviour, by helping children find solutions in ways which are appropriate for their ages and stages of development. For example, a solution may include: acknowledgement of feelings, explanation as to what was not acceptable and supporting children to gain control of their feelings so they can learn a more appropriate response.
- We ensure that there are enough resources and sufficient activities available so that children are meaningfully occupied without the need for unnecessary conflict over sharing and waiting for turns.
- We acknowledge considerate behaviour such as kindness and willingness to share by using praise.
- We support each child in developing positive self-esteem, confidence and feelings of competence.
- We support each child in a sense of belonging in our Nursery, so they feel valued and welcome.
- We avoid creating situations in which children receive adult attention only in return for challenging behaviour.
- When children behave in challenging ways, we help them to understand the outcomes of their actions and support them in learning how to cope more appropriately.
- We recognise and understand that children need support in regulating their emotions. Therefore we will offer a quiet space to allow the child some individual thinking time to enable them, with adult support, to regulate their emotions and return to the activities.
- We never use physical punishment such as smacking or shaking. Children are never threatened with these either.
- We do not use techniques intended to single out and humiliate individual children.
- We use physical restraint, such as holding, only to prevent physical injury to children or adults and/or serious damage to property, following recommendations advised through training.
- Details of an incident (what happened, what action was taken and by whom, and the names of witnesses) are brought to the attention of the Nursery Manager and Yvonne May and are recorded on an incident form and then added to the incident/accident file. The incident report is shared with the parents/carers and signed by them. They are also given a copy.
- In cases of serious misbehaviour, such as racial or other abuse, we make clear immediately the unacceptability of the behaviour and attitude by means of explanations rather than personal blame and these are also discussed with the child’s parents/carers.
- We do not shout or raise our voices in a threatening way to respond to a child’s inconsiderate behaviour.
Children Under Three Years Old
- When children under three years old behave in challenging ways we recognise that strategies for supporting them will need to be developmentally appropriate and differ from those for older children.
- We recognise that very young children are unable to regulate their own emotions, such as fear, anger or distress, and require sensitive adults to help them do this.
- Common challenging or hurtful behaviours from young children include tantrums, biting or fighting. Staff are calm and patient, offering comfort to these intense emotions, helping children to manage their feelings and talk about them to help resolve issues, promote understanding and keeping others and themselves safe at Nursery.
- If tantrums, biting or fighting are frequent, through discussion with the parents/carers we explore the possibilities of an underlying cause, such as a change or upheaval at home, or frequent change of carers. Sometimes a child may not have settled into the Nursery and their behaviour may be the result of ‘separation anxiety’. The child will be closely observed to try and find out the triggers in Nursery and how we can support and try to overcome this anxiety.
- We focus on ensuring the child’s key person is building a strong relationship with the child to provide them with security.
Rough and Tumble Play
Rough and tumble play and fantasy aggression
Young children often engage in play that has aggressive themes- such as superhero and weapon play. Some children appear pre-occupied with these themes, but their behaviour is not necessarily a precursor to hurtful behaviour or bullying, although it may be challenging at times and may need addressing using strategies as above.
- We recognise that teasing and rough and tumble play are normal for young children and acceptable within limits. We regard these kinds of play as pro-social and not as problematic or aggressive.
- We develop strategies to contain play and agree these with the children, and understand them, with acceptable behavioural boundaries to ensure children are not hurt.
- We recognise that fantasy play also contains many violently dramatic strategies, blowing up, shooting, etc. and that themes often refer to ‘goodies and baddies’ and as such offer concepts for us to explore concepts of right and wrong.
- We are able to tune in to the content of the play, perhaps to suggest alternative strategies for heroes and heroines, making the most of ‘teachable moments’ to encourage empathy and lateral thinking to explore alternative scenarios and strategies for conflict resolution.
Strategies for Older Children
We take hurtful behaviour very seriously. Most children under the age of five will at some stage hurt or say something hurtful to another child, especially if their emotions are high at the time, but it is not helpful to label this behaviour as ‘bullying’. For children under five, hurtful behaviour is momentary, spontaneous and often without the understanding of the feelings of the person whom they have hurt.
- We recognise that young children behave in hurtful ways towards others because they have not yet developed the means to manage intense feelings that sometimes overwhelm them.
- We will help them manage these feelings as they have neither the biological means nor the cognitive means to do this for themselves.
- We will offer support, calming the child who is angry as well as the one who has been hurt by their behaviour.
- Our way of responding to pre-verbal children is to calm them through holding and cuddling, as advised through training and only if appropriate. Verbal children will also respond to cuddling to calm them down, but we offer them an explanation and discuss the incident with them on their level of understanding as we would also to a pre-verbal child too.
- We recognise that children require help in understanding the range of feelings they experience. We help children recognise their feelings by naming them and helping children to express them. We will make it clear that feelings are understandable and acceptable, including feeling angry, but that not all behaviours are.
- We help children learn to empathise with others, understanding that they have feelings too and that their actions impact on others’ feelings.
- We are aware that the same problem may happen over and over before such skills such as sharing and turn-taking develop. Children will require repeated experiences with problem solving, supported by patient adults and clear boundaries.
- As a group we support social skills through modelling behaviour, through activities, drama, stories and circle time. We build self-esteem and confidence in children, recognising their emotional needs through close and committed relationships with them.
- We help a child understand the effect that their hurtful behaviour has had on another child. We do not force children to say sorry, but encourage this where it is clear they are genuinely sorry and wish to show this to the person they have hurt. For older children this may be a kind gesture or a picture, etc.
- When hurtful behaviour becomes problematic, we work with parents/carers to identify the cause and find a solution together. The main reasons for children to engage in excessive, hurtful behaviour are that:
- they do not feel securely attached to someone who can interpret and meet their needs – this may be in the home and it may also be in the
- Nursery;their parent/carer does not have the skills in responding appropriately, and consequently negative patterns are developing where hurtful behaviour is the only response the child has to express feelings of anger;
- the child may have insufficient language, or mastery of English, to express himself or herself and may feel frustrated;
- the child is exposed to levels of aggressive behaviour at home and may be at risk emotionally, or may be experiencing child abuse; or
- the child has a developmental condition that affects how they behave.