An Invitation to Educators: Behaviour Management is not Behaviour Management

A very common discussion among educators is ‘Behaviour Management’ and can be defined as ‘guiding a child’s behaviour towards appropriate ways of behaving’. The essence of this on going conversation is typically strategies of behaviour management and educators will always pitch in with tried and tested manners in which they manage their class’s behaviour.

However, we believe there needs to be a change in view in terms of how adults, whether parent or educators, view behaviour management: Behaviour management should not be behaviour management.

This term implies that you are focusing on the behaviour itself. It implies you are ‘managing’ a behaviour, focusing on the surface of the situation, not looking beyond it. Behaviour management strategies that are typically used by educators (and adults in general) typically have temporary effects and will stifle a behaviour but will not have lasting, effective result.

Behaviour management strategies are also very general and address a group as a whole. However, is it not logical that each child and each situation is different? Is it not logical that each child and each situation requires a different approach?

We invite educators to change their views in order to change their approach: we invite you to focus on the reason behind the behaviour, not the behaviour itself. Behaviour management strategies often focus on the short term, not the long term. We invite educators to focus on the long term goals: how can we help a child become self-aware, resilient, independent and emotionally healthy?

The long-term goal is them.

Educators will often use the term ‘challenging behaviour’ and as this term means many different things to many different people, it is difficult to pin point the definition. However, we invite adults to stop viewing it as a ‘challenging behaviour’ and view it as a child who is going through their own challenge. A challenging behaviour is typically the bird’s eye view of an emotion that is causing a child distress. If we look beyond that ‘challenging behaviour’ and view the child as someone who needs our support and help at that moment, the challenging behaviour you once saw, will very quickly disappear as the child will learn to self-regulate along with feeling loved and supported.

We invite educators to also look somewhere else when they see ‘challenging behaviours’: we invite you to look at yourselves. A child will act differently if they are under stimulated or overstimulated. Are they bored? Are they overwhelmed? A classroom environment may very often be an overwhelming place for a young child – are there too many colours, textures, noises? Is it too bright? Is it too dark? Are there too many people?

It may also be that the environment is not enough for them. You may often hear educators say a child is ‘fidgety’ or they cannot sit still and they will quickly label them as a child who ‘misbehaves’ or ‘doesn’t listen’. We invite educators to view this child differently: maybe, just maybe, they are under stimulated. Maybe, just maybe, you have not noticed that the material you have prepared is not enough for them. They may need more.

To end, educators underestimate the most effective behaviour management strategy an adult can have and it is the simplest one. The importance of their own presence: simply being an example of kindness, manners and effective communication will have a long lasting effect on a child’s development – an effect that will help them grow to be self-aware, compassionate, kind, caring, confident, resilient individuals.

And isn’t this the goal?