Breaking through barriers for workers
who have children with special needs

Promoting Positive Behaviour

 No one likes nagging, yelling and punishing, neither adults who do it nor children who are on the receiving end. Here are a few ways to encourage the kind of behaviour that can make the day go more smoothly for everyone.

Organize to prevent problems

• Organize the environment to make it easy for children to do the right thing. For exam- ple, install coat hooks and toy storage shelves where children can reach them; put away breakables.

• Provide enough appropriate supplies and materials for everyone.

• Supervise carefully, be observant and act to change the situation before behaviour gets out of control.

Keep a routine

• Establish some structure and routines throughout the day.

• Prepare children for upcoming activities. “After the toys are put away, we’ll put on our jackets and go outside to play.”

• Make sure that children have nutritious snacks and meals.

• Avoid too much TV or any long periods of inactivity.

Decide what’s negotiable and what’s not

• Set simple, firm, clear limits which apply to everyone.

• Once you’ve set the limits, stick to them.

• Within the limits you set, allow children to make choices that are appropriate to the situation and to their ages.

Keep your language positive

• Show children how you want them to behave by setting a good example.

• Say what to do instead of what not to do: “Use your quiet voice in the house.” Avoid overuse of words such as “no”, “don’t” and “stop”.

• Show children that you like being with them: smile, make eye contact, call them frequently by their name and use words of encourage- ment and hugs.

• Use your voice as a teaching tool. Speak slowly, calmly, distinctly and directly.

• Let children know you notice when you like their behaviour. A little positive feedback goes a long way!

Pay attention to feelings

• Listen for the feelings behind children’s words and actions and reflect them back: “It sounds like you’re feeling ....”

• Remember that, just like adults, children sometimes have a bad day and that is okay.

Examine your attitude

• Know what behaviour is typical for different ages. Let this guide you as you decide what you can reasonably expect from a particular child.

• Choose activities that you enjoy and do these with children. Enthusiasm is contagious.

• Be aware of your own stress level and take care of yourself.

This resource sheet was adapted from material developed by Janice MacAulay, Jane Fox and Cindy Helman for Caregiver Training, a collaborative training program of the Family Resource Services Group and Home Child Care Agencies of Ottawa-Carleton.

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