It is a mistake to assume that a child’s difficult behavior at school stems from his or her home environment. Even the most caring and involved parents cannot control their children 100 percent of the time, which means any teacher dealing with preschoolers will undoubtedly encounter difficult students from time to time. To determine how best to deal with these children, it is important to understand what causes preschoolers’ behavior problems.
Typical Reasons Preschoolers Act Out in Classrooms
There are many reasons preschoolers act out in classrooms. Children will be children and sometimes there is no reason for their actions. Dealing with difficult preschoolers can be very challenging. But when you look into the reasons why they may act out, it helps you to understand and empathize with them. Preschoolers typically act out to:
#1 Get attention
Preschoolers crave attention from their parents and other adults, and if their regular methods of getting that attention don’t work, they will often resort to acting out and testing limits in the classroom setting. This testing behavior may be conscious or unconscious. If a child is trying to get his parent’s attention, he will often do the same behavior at school that works at home.
#2 Learn limits
Preschoolers explore their world by testing limits, just as scientists conduct experiments to learn more about the world. This is why you need to set up clear and consistent classroom rules and consequences that guide preschoolers’ behavior. These boundaries will help them know what is expected of them at school and in life.
Some students are very curious and eager to explore the world. If they see something they want, instead of asking for it, or if a shiny object catches their eye in a store window, preschoolers often just take what they want without giving much thought to the consequences. This same behavior may come out when a child in preschool has a strong desire to explore or handle a particular object on the classroom shelves.
#4 Solve problems
Children are very solution-oriented, so if something doesn’t go their way, they will often try to fix the situation themselves instead of asking for help. One example is when a preschooler takes scissors from a school supply cabinet and cuts up other children’s artwork or his clothing. Preschoolers tend to think that they are the ones who should fix what has been damaged, while adults recognize that a child in preschool is not capable of making such a big problem right on his own.
#5 Express their feelings
Sometimes preschoolers act out to express the way they are feeling. If a child is feeling angry or sad about something that happened at home, he may find it difficult to talk about his emotions with an adult, so instead, he will act out his feelings through behavior.
These are just a few of the typical reasons why preschools act out at times. There are endless reasons for a preschooler to act out. Children can be unpredictable but figuring out why they are acting out can help with calming them down.
Strategies Teachers Can Use To Manage Difficult Preschoolers
When a child begins to act out, some strategies can be used to quell the situation. You can try these behavior strategies for preschoolers listed below!
#1 Remain calm and consistent
When dealing with difficult preschoolers, it is important to be as patient and consistent as possible. Do not let your emotions get the best of you, nor should you take preschooler’s behavior personally. If a child acts out or has a tantrum, calmly walk him over to a quiet area until he has calmed down. If a child is having a tantrum, try to avoid joining in and acting out with him as this will only encourage negative behavior.
#2 Give simple directions
When working with preschoolers, you must give them clear instructions on what they should do as well as what they shouldn’t do. By giving preschoolers a clear explanation of what is expected of them at all times, you will prevent confusion and frustration from building up.
#3 Understand that misbehavior may be a sign of other problems
While it’s important to figure out why preschoolers are acting out to help calm them down, it’s also important to understand that preschoolers may act out because they are facing other problems. For example, if a child is struggling with an academic subject or has difficulty making friends at school, he may act out to distract the teacher’s attention from the problem causing his frustration. When this occurs, try working together as a team with both yourself and your parents to address any underlying issues that may be causing a child’s behavior.
#4 Offer positive reinforcement and rewards
When preschoolers show good behavior or accomplish something difficult for them, it is important to let them know this and in turn, give them positive attention. This will encourage children to continue with the same behaviors and accomplishments rather than misbehaving to get attention. Allowing preschoolers to earn rewards or special privileges for good behavior will give them the incentive to behave well in the future.
#5 Keep routines consistent and clear
Routine is important for children during their early years because it helps them understand what they should expect from certain situations, such as coming into school in the morning or leaving school at the end of the day. It can be very upsetting for a child to have these expectations changed without warning, so keeping routines consistent and clear will help avoid disruptions in behavior, such as difficult preschoolers acting out.
Classroom Activities to Promote Good Behavior
There are many different classroom activities that teachers can use to promote good behavior in preschoolers. These can include both physical and mental exercises, so there is a wide range of activities you can choose from.
#1 Play games
Games are a great way to promote good behavior in preschoolers. They provide an interactive and fun way for children to obtain social skills, as well as engage their bodies and minds.
#2 Sing songs
Singing songs allows students to incorporate some fun into a classroom while promoting good behavior in preschoolers. By singing songs that teach children lessons on how to act in school or elsewhere, they will be more likely to listen and follow instructions.
#3 Read stories
Reading stories can promote good behavior in preschoolers. For example, you can read books about manners or how to deal with anger inappropriate ways. This can help children learn positive ways to act in school and elsewhere.
#4 Engage with puzzles or block play
Puzzles and block play are great activities that preschoolers can engage in daily. These allow children to work with their minds and hands, while also getting them up and moving.
#5 Encourage children to read or write
Allowing preschoolers to either read or write can be useful in promoting good behavior. For example, if a child misbehaves and you ask him to write an apology letter or read a book, he will be more unlikely to act out again.
Teachers and care providers need to be aware of the different reasons why preschoolers may be acting out, as well as understand that misbehavior among this age group is quite common. By offering positive reinforcement and rewards, keeping routines consistent and clear, engaging with physical activities such as games or singing songs, using verbal exercises through reading stories or by asking preschoolers to write or read, and engaging with cognitive activities such as puzzles or block play, teachers can promote good behavior in preschoolers.
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