Positive behaviour is strongly linked to respect for others and what is generally accepted as ‘good’ behaviour tends to be centred on this. Positive behaviour is about learning self-control and consideration for the needs of others. The Social Learning Theory is based on the fact that children will adopt the behaviour of the adults around them. In other words setting a good example is the first thing all adults should try to do in working with young children. If we deal aggressively with them they will respond in an aggressive way also.
If we always remember to say please and thank you they are more likely to do so and if we encourage and reward sharing and caring they will accept this as positive behaviour. The Behaviourist Theory suggests that children will respond best to positive reinforcement, in other words rewards. The attention of adults is important to children and some learn that the only way to get attention is by exhibiting negative behaviour. The only time they feel noticed is when they are being chastised for unwanted behaviour. Their logic tells them that in repeating the unwanted behaviour they will get more attention.
If we try to ignore negative behaviour (as far as is safe to do so) but reward positive behaviour then the child learns that more attention is gained through being ‘good’. This can be done by using sticker charts…. only appropriate behaviour gets a sticker but never remove a sticker that has been earned for good behaviour as this is discouraging to the child. Praising a child for the positive behaviour is sometimes all that is needed to show that we have noticed and will reinforce their behaviour so it is important to do this frequently. Even a smile is enough in some cases.
Self-Fulfilling Prophesy Theory is based upon the view the adult takes of a child. If a child is constantly told they are ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’ they often come to consider themselves as just that and resign them to becoming nothing better. If we have to discipline a child in any way the language we use must be chosen carefully so as not to label the child but to label the behaviour as unacceptable. Having a good, well organised routine will help children to feel more secure and the less stressed they are in a situation the more likely they are to exhibit positive behaviour.
Setting clear boundaries and explaining them to the children also gives them a better understanding of what you expect. The children could contribute to this process by adding to lists of rules, thereby giving them ownership of what is appropriate and what is not. They are more likely to conform to boundaries if they understand what their peers find unacceptable and the reasons why there is a need for boundaries. Being well organised will also mean that the children are constantly on task and not left without a meaningful activity to occupy them.
Make them responsible for certain activities as this will give them a sense of involvement and ownership. Ensure that there is plenty of supervision of activities so that any negative behaviour is nipped in the bud before it becomes an issue. In short be a positive role model, make use of positive reinforcement, be consistent, be well organised/planned, have clear boundaries and above all else be patient, understanding, attentive and aware of the developmental stage of each child in your care.