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Strategies for Challenging Behavior

When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.
Alexander Den Heijer

Strategies for dealing with children’s challenging behaviors continue to be requested by readers of ExchangeEveryDay. We have two resources to offer you - one published by Exchange and one by our friends at Free Spirit Publishing.

Exchange Essentials article collections, "Children with Challenging Behaviors," Part 1 and Part 2, offer help for addressing this difficult issue. One article offers an example of how a leader might support a teacher who is feeling overwhelmed:

"‘This child is really, really bugging me,’ says Teacher Anita to the director of the Three Oaks Child Care Center. ‘Bobby constantly pushes the other kids, grabs their toys, and won’t listen. I think you should call his parents. Maybe we should explore a different preschool for this child.’ Director Mary reflects how hard this teacher tries with Bobby and with several other children whose behavior creates problems in the classroom. She replies, ‘Anita, I’ve just been to a conference where new thinking was presented about social and emotional competence in preschool children. Let’s sit down, and really think through which social and emotional skills Bobby has and where he needs to develop better skills. Then you and I can develop specific social and emotional learning activities that will help him develop these skills. Once we’ve done that we’ll call his parents to talk and get some of their ideas. And in the meantime, I will do my best to offer greater support for you as we all work with Bobby.’"

In her new book, Uncover the Roots Of Challenging Behavior, Michelle Salcedo uses the idea of teacher as a gardener as a guiding image of the book:

"The image of a gardener tending to a plant provides us with a different lens through which we can examine children’s challenging behaviors. …When faced with a plant that is not thriving, the dedicated gardener will, quite literally, leave no stone unturned in the quest to discover why … Rarely does a gardener throw up her hands and declare the plant unfit. Similarly, when a child exhibits challenging behaviors, what if instead of blaming the child, we looked first at the environment? What if we shifted our focus from ‘fixing’ the child to adapting the conditions in which she spends many hours each day so that she can be successful?"

Free Spirit Publishing has kindly offered a 10% discount to readers of ExchangeEveryDay if they order from and use the code EXCHANGE by the end of February.

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