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Challenging and anti-social behaviour. Unit 14. What is challenging behaviour?. All children display unwanted behaviour at some time. What do you consider to be ‘challenging’ behaviour? Perhaps you thought of:-

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Challenging and anti-social behaviour

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Challenging and anti-social behaviour

Unit 14

Y Quaintrell, 2010

What is challenging behaviour?

  • All children display unwanted behaviour at some time. What do you consider to be ‘challenging’ behaviour?

  • Perhaps you thought of:-

  • Prolonged or severe tantrums including hitting themselves or banging their head on wall/floor

  • Violent behaviour such as biting, kicking, hitting

  • Dangerous behaviour e.g. running off or onto roads, inappropriate climbing, undoing seatbelts whilst car is in motion.

Y Quaintrell, 2010

What do you think causes these types of behaviour?

  • Special needs e.g. ADHD, ASD. Children sometimes become frustrated particularly when there is a communication problem or lack of understanding

  • Parenting style

  • Emotional disturbance or upset

  • Insecurity or uncertainty

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Often it’s much simpler

  • Sleep deprivation – children with no or little routine at bedtime, who wake a lot in the night or who go to bed late will often have behaviour problems due to lack of sleep.

  • Role model – children will copy adults’ behaviour; if you shout they shout, if you smack they smack…

Y Quaintrell, 2010


  • Think about a time when you have witnessed or dealt with such challenging behaviour

  • What was the behaviour?

  • How was it dealt with?

  • Was this successful in resolving the situation?

  • What do you think was the cause of the behaviour?

  • How did it make you feel?

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Dealing with behaviour

  • Challenging behaviour can be intimidating to deal with. It can also create a cycle of negativity with the child as you both get locked into ways of behaving and thinking.

  • Children can become labelled as ‘naughty’ or ‘difficult’ and this can affect how you deal with them and how they view themselves.

  • It is important to look at your own behaviour first and consider how this may be contributing to the child’s behaviour

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Dealing with challenging behaviour

Step 1

  • Firstly it is important to observe both the child’s behaviour and how it is currently being dealt with.

  • This can be done as an Event sample or a simple journal that both the setting and parents can complete.

  • You should record the ABCs – Antecedent, Behaviour and Consequences

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Dealing with challenging behaviour

Step 1 continued

  • Antecedent – record what led up to the behaviour i.e. what happened before, the triggers

  • Behaviour – record the behaviour

  • Consequences – record how it was dealt with and what affect this had

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Journal example

Day/Date/Time - Mon 12th1130am

A - Where you are and what’s happening

  • In Sitting room drinking tea

    B - Describe the behaviour

  • Bit and hit her sister who wouldn’t share

    C - Describe your response

  • Shouted and pulled her away and smacked her

    Outcome - Massive tantrum, crying and hitting me

Byron and Baveystock, 2005, p12


  • The journal may highlight key times when the behaviour escalates (e.g. meal times/ bed times)

  • It may be useful to look at the child’s routine.

  • For example do they have a regular bed time?

  • What is the routine at bed time? Is it calming and relaxing?

  • What is the adult’s behaviour like at these times? Do you anticipate stress and therefore create tension or over-react?

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Dealing with challenging behaviour

Step 1 continued

  • This will help you both to identify possible patterns in behaviour, triggers to the behaviour and consider how well your current strategies are working

  • It is also useful in highlighting how your own (or the parents’) behaviour may impact on the child

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Dealing with challenging behaviour

Step 2

  • Set goals – it is important to set realistic goals. Don’t try to tackle everything at once! Decide what is really important to deal with first and work on that.

    Step 3

  • Plan – draw up a plan for dealing with the behaviour and ensure that everyone involved with the child follows the plan. Consistency is extremely important.

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Dealing with challenging behaviour

Step 4

  • Work together – it is vital that you work with parents and other professionals who may be involved with the child and share your strategies and experiences.

    Step 5

  • Review your plan – regular reviews will ensure that the plan is working and if not it can be modified.

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Understand behaviour

  • It is important to accept that sometimes we are part of the cause and will need to change how we deal with the behaviour/child.

  • Be realistic about children’s behaviour. The frontal lobe that manages behaviour and helps us act rationally and sensibly is still developing in the early years. So children do not have the reasoning skills and rationality that adults do.

  • We can become fixed in our thinking about children and their behaviour

Y Quaintrell, 2010


What are the strategies you can use?

  • Be confident or least look confident! You are the adult! Don’t get drawn into debates and discussions with children.

  • Practise developing a firm tone of voice that does not involve shouting.

  • Be clear and consistent

  • Stay positive – give them attention when they are behaving nicely and not just when they misbehave. Don’t label children and distinguish between the behaviour and the child.

Y Quaintrell, 2010


  • Distraction – particularly useful for young children. Many tantrums can be avoided by distracting as soon as you recognise the signs that the behaviour is escalating

  • Ignore as much as you can (even in public). Most behaviours are reduced when they are not receiving attention for it.

  • Positive example – children will copy you so be positive. If you shout – they shout. If you smack – they smack!

  • Praise – give out praise as much as possible

Y Quaintrell, 2010


  • Rewards – using sticker charts and reward systems are a good way of encouraging positive behaviour. Be careful that it does not become a bargaining tool!

  • Structure and stimulation – children need structure and stimulation to develop and this also reduces boredom and frustration

  • Be consistent – otherwise children get mixed messages

  • Time out – For extreme behaviour time out can be used as an extreme form of ignoring. Give the child two chances to stop misbehaving and if they continue take them to the time out zone without giving them attention. Leave them in the time out zone for 1 minute for every year of their life e.g. 3 years = 3 minutes. This is a good technique that allows you both to calm down and helps prevent smacking. Be careful not to overuse this.

Y Quaintrell, 2010

Unit 14 task 4

  • Describe four behavioural strategies you feel the setting could implement in the situation set out in the case study (P5)

  • Explain how effective you feel these will be and why. (M3)

  • Evaluate the potential effectiveness of the four behavioural management strategies. (D2)

Y Quaintrell, 2010


  • What different ways can we monitor and evaluate our strategies to see if they are working and how well?

  • Meeting with parents

  • Case conferences

  • Observations such as event samples and journals

  • Discussions with the child if possible

Y Quaintrell, 2010


  • How is behaviour monitored in your setting?

  • If you do not know – find out!

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Unit 14 task 4

  • Describe how you could monitor the four strategies suggested in the case study (P7)

  • Explain the ways in which these will monitor and evaluate your strategies.(M4)

Y Quaintrell, 2010


  • Byron Dr.T., (2010) ‘Dr Tanya Byron’s top tips for parents’ available at accessed 4/1/10

  • Byron Dr.T and Baveystock S., (2005) Little Angels, Essex: Educational Publishers LLP

Y Quaintrell, 2010

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