On her website, consultant Rae Pica lists seven reasons she believes we are seeing more challenging behaviors in children lately. Here’s a synopsis of them:
Children have almost no time to play — something that early childhood researcher and professor Nancy Carlsson-Paige calls ‘nature’s plan’ and ‘a biological drive.’ Experts around the globe agree with this statement. Can you imagine if we insisted that kittens and puppies stay still? If we prevented them from frolicking and playing? The idea is ludicrous – and it should be just as ludicrous when we’re discussing children…
We are demanding that children accomplish things for which they are in no way developmentally equipped…
Children get little to no downtime...
We treat children as though they exist only from the neck up and that only their brains matter, when the research shows and good sense validates the importance of the mind-body connection…
We stifle children’s natural creativity and inherent love of learning through worksheets, standardized tests and curricula, and an insistence on conformity and rote — as opposed to active, authentic — learning…
We pit children against one another with our focus on competition and winning…
Too many children spend hours in front of screens, leading sedentary lives (it’s the sitting thing again) filled with virtual relationships instead of interacting with real people in real life – when the research clearly shows that social-emotional development is critical in early childhood and that in-person interactions are necessary for social-emotional development. Additionally, we have research demonstrating that screen time is creating depression and aggression in children…"
| Beginnings Workshop books have a wealth of ideas for reducing challenging behaviors by helping children learn through play in developmentally appropriate ways.
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My question is how are we as a body of early childhood professionals still allowing NAEYC to be the voice of our work? I realize that CCIE is an information outlet, not an overarching membership organization; however, there is more wisdom in a single Exchange Everyday article than the whole of NAEYC's current document! What advocacy steps do we need to take to draw the attention of policy makers in a healthy direction on behalf of children, caregivers and parents?
The article on 7 reasons for Challenging Behaviors was good. Yet, it did't mention the brain and adverse effects that impact children in negative ways. Adverse effects disrupt the organization of the brain and cause the stress response system to be activated in a way that contributes to challenging behavior. The article eluded to disrupted relationships, but didn't call it out. Poverty of relationships is also a major cause of challenging behaviors for children. Neglect and abuse are more common than we would like to admit as a society. But it is real for these children and challenging behaviors is one response.
NAEYC is currently seeking input on their revised edition of DAP. I encourage everyone to forcefully respond to this document, as it will become the foundation for what we do with young children. I am about 3/4 of the way through the document, and in my view it is still too academic and too focused on "preparing children for school success". Its curricular section is particularly bad. So please, please review this document!
Agreed, Karen! To me, it all comes down to adults seeing things from the children's point of view!
Thank you for sharing this! Not only are children acting out as a result of these 7 situations -- and others -- they're also experiencing previously unseen levels of anxiety and depression. We need to start appreciating and respecting the nature of children (and childhood), and we need to do it immediately.