Direct Guidance Strategies for Teaching Appropriate Behavior in Preschoolers Understanding and Addressing Inappropriate Behavior in Children: Causes and Guidance Strategies “Guiding Children’s Behavior: Strategies for Effective Solutions and Understanding Mistaken Behaviors” “Understanding the Root of Level 3 Mistaken Behavior: Unmet Needs and Its Impact on Children’s Behavior”

Module 02 Assignment – Direct Guidance Strategies
For this assignment, you will look critically at two real-world scenarios and determine which direct guidance strategies would be most appropriate to apply to the given situation. Read each of the scenarios below.
Scenario 1: Joey
Ms. Juanita is a teacher in a four-year-old preschool room. She has developed classroom rules/guidelines with her children. The rules/guidelines are reviewed each morning during circle time, and when children are having difficulty throughout the day. Most of the children are doing well adhering to the classroom rules; however, Joey is having difficulty. He constantly interrupts during circle time, and asks off-topic questions, such as, “Where do whales live?” “What time is it on the moon?” Although Ms. Juanita finds Joey’s questions interesting, this behavior does not give the other children a chance to participate in the activity. Joey’s behavior also violates the classroom rule/guideline, “Take turns.” Ms. Juanita also notices that Joey takes materials from peers during free play and tells others what to do. Ms. Juanita would like to help Joey learn how to wait his turn circle time and during free play, so other students have a turn to participate.
Scenario 2: Olivia
Mr. Jacob is a teacher in a three-year-old preschool room. He has taught the classroom rules/guidelines to the children and reviews them daily. Olivia generally follows the rules except for the rule, “Clean up after play.” Each day when Mr. Jacob announces that it is time to clean up and go outside, Olivia immediately runs to the door, leaving behind the materials she was using. Typically, Mr. Jacob has to give Olivia three reminders before she cleans up her toys, and the whole class has to wait for her to finish. Mr. Jacob would like to help Olivia learn to clean up materials with the class after free play.
The direct guidance strategies below could be applied to each scenario to assist the child with learning the appropriate behavior:
Identify the level of mistaken behavior
Following Guidelines/ Rules
Teaching Guidelines/Rules
Partnering with or Engaging Families
Encouraging Appropriate Behavior
Considerations for Individual Differences (Temperament, Culture, Special Need)
Choose two (2) of the strategies above to apply to each of the scenarios. In 2-3 pages in a Word document, address the following for each scenario:
How could the educator use the two strategies over a 2-week period to teach the child appropriate behavior?
What would the educator do and say?
How might the child react to each strategy?
What could the educator do if the strategies were unsuccessful?
Include at least one reference to a resource from this module (readings, lecture notes, and videos). Use in-text citations where appropriate. In addition to the 2-3 pages, include an APA formatted title page and a reference page.
Library Video: Positive Guidance and Discipline
For assistance with writing, visit the Rasmussen Library’s Writing Guide and APA Guide.
Submit your completed assignment by following the directions linked below. Please check the Course Calendar for specific due dates.
Save your assignment as a Microsoft Word document. (Mac users, please remember to append the “.docx” extension to the filename.) The name of the file should be your first initial and last name, followed by an underscore and the name of the assignment, and an underscore and the date. An example is shown below:
Here is a resource from my readings  
Inappropriate and Mistaken Behaviors
Handling Inappropriate Behavior
All children demonstrate inappropriate behavior at some point for some reason. Consider these examples:
A child drops their jacket on the floor instead of hanging it on a hook.
A child bites another child.
A child refuses to clean up a mess.
A child interrupts during circle time.
What can be done to help children to learn appropriate behavior? What can be done to prevent inappropriate behavior? It is critical to determine why the inappropriate behavior is occurring. The cause of the inappropriate action will inform the intervention and prevention measures.
Common Reasons for Inappropriate Behavior in Children
Young children use behavior to show educators their thoughts and feelings. Children often communicate through behavior, things they are unable to verbalize. Below is a list of common reasons why children may behave inappropriately.
Stage of development (unable to share, desire for independence, lack of exposure, large group environment)
Temperament, personality, or individual differences
Developmental delay or a special need
Need for attention or boredom
Environmental needs not met (too crowded, not enough materials, too open, children must wait for long periods)
Crisis or trauma at home (not getting basic needs met of love, food, safety, sleep
Copying other children
Unable to control emotions
Inappropriate behavior has proven effective (and been reinforced) in the past.
Sometimes the cause of the inappropriate behavior is obvious. For example, Ruby grabs a toy truck from Gracie. An educator can quickly determine that Ruby wanted the toy but didn’t know how to ask for a turn. The cause is related to the developmental level of the child. An educator can intervene by modeling how to ask for a turn playing with the toy. The educator also needs to monitor the situation. Is a duplicate truck required to prevent future inappropriate behavior? Perhaps, read a story to the children during circle time that reinforces the importance of taking turns.
In other instances, the cause is not as apparent. The behavior may be out of the ordinary for a child. For example, John is usually friendly to his peers. He shares materials and often offers to help others. Today, he lashes out at a peer and says, “Don’t take that! Go away!” An educator can attempt to talk to John about his feelings, but he may not be able to express exactly how he is feeling and why. Observation techniques may be useful to assist with determining the frequency and cause. If behaviors persist, involving families can assist with determining the cause of the undesired behavior. Furthermore, educators may have to compile data from observations and discussions from families to make an educated guess about the cause of the inappropriate behavior. The cause should not be a “bad child” or a “spoiled child.” Educators have a responsibility to look deeper into the causes of inappropriate behavior.
Guidance Strategies
Educators implement guidance strategies throughout the day to teach children appropriate behavior. The previous module introduced the basic concepts of direct and indirect guidance strategies, but this section will explore some specifics.
Age Appropriate Environment
Create an age appropriate physical, temporal, and interpersonal environment.
Educators ensure that the room arrangement, amount of materials and choices, the schedule/routines/ transitions, and interactions are appropriate for developmental age of the children present. For example, toddlers have duplicate materials and shorter amounts of time for free play. A preschool environment has longer blocks of time for free play without many duplicate materials.
Ignore Behavior
A behavior that does not harm the child, classmates, or educators. The behavior does not interfere with learning. Example, a child sits with their knees up instead of legs crossed. This behavior can be ignored. Bringing attention could reinforce the undesired behavior. Offer immediate positive reinforcement when sitting appropriately.
Reinforce Appropriate Behavior
Genuinely bring attention the desired behavior and the reason it is appropriate. Example, “Getting a tissue for your friend is a kind. Thank you for taking care of your friend.”
Facilitate Problem Solving Skills
Toddlers will need the problem-solving process modeled. Encourage preschoolers to state the problem, and express emotions. Educators encourage the children to suggest solutions or if unable, offer 2 solutions to choose from. Check in with the children to determine if the solution was successful. Adjust or reinforce appropriate behavior. Teach the vocabulary words “problem” and “solution” during group time and throughout the day. Model how to use these words.
Realistic Expectations
Understand the developmental levels of the children in the educational environment. Establish simple, clear guidelines/rules with pictures, and refer to them daily. For example, A child is running in the classroom. The educator brings the child to the guideline/rule that states “Walk in the classroom”, and explains safety.
Offer Choices
A child offered two appropriate choices is less likely to engage in inappropriate behavior. For example, an educator offers crayons or markers at the art center. Both are appropriate; however, the choice offers the child feelings of control.
Engages all Senses & Domains
Create Learning Experiences that Engage all the Senses and Domains (PILES)
Activities that engage the 5 senses and target PILES allow children to be fully involved in meaningful learning. For example, a rice table with dinosaurs, small letters and numbers, measuring cups, shovels etc. invites discovery, language, social skills, and movement. A worksheet does involve the 5 senses, and may appear meaningless and boring.
Clear Instructions
Provide Short, Clear, Instructions to Children
Keep instructions short without long explanation so the meaning is not lost. For example, Educator pats a chair and says, “Sit in your chair. It is time for lunch.”
Express Feelings
Teach and model the vocabulary that reflect emotions. Teaching vocabulary, such as, happy, sad, frustrated, mad through modeling, songs, and stories encourages children to use it in appropriate situations. For example, an educator states, “l see that you are sad. Can I help you?”
Olivia is throwing dolls into the doll bed in the dramatic play center. Educator shows Olivia bean bags and a basket, and asks her how many she can throw in the basket.
Culture and Special Needs
Understand Culturally Based Behavior and Behaviors as a result of a special need
A child who recently moved the United States from another country avoids eye contact. A child with Autism flaps his hands when he is excited. An educator is aware of these differences, and responds in a caring, supportive manner.
Mistaken Behavior
According to Gartrell (2014), “the guidance approach requires educators to look at the conflicts that children have not as misbehavior, but as mistaken behavior. Mistaken behaviors are errors in judgment and action made in the process of learning life skills. Mistaken behaviors occur at three levels: experimentation, socially influenced, and strong unmet needs.”
Level of Mistaken Behavior / Motivational Source
Level 1: Experimentation – The child displays a desire to explore the environment, people, and activities.
Level 2: Socially Influenced – The child displays a desire to please and connect with peers and others.
Level 3: Strong Unmet Needs – The child is unable to cope with issues related to wellness and difficult life experiences.
Level 1: Experimentation Mistaken Behavior
The motivation behind Level 1 mistaken behavior is experimentation; this type of behavior is not violent or persistent. Children are curious, and often do things to see what happens. For example, an infant grabs a handful of curly hair and pulls a peer to the ground. The infant was curious about the head full of curly hair.
Level 2: Socially Influenced Mistaken Behavior
The motivation behind Level 2 mistaken behavior is social influence; this is learned behavior and is often unintentionally reinforced. Children frequently copy or mimic the behavior of others to gain approval. Behavior influences include television shows or family members. For example, children may repeat the inappropriate language of family members or copy wrestling moves of superheroes.
Level 3: Strong Unmet Needs Mistaken Behavior
The motivation behind Level 3 mistaken behavior is strong unmet needs. Children sometimes are deprived of basic needs (e.g., food, love, attention, sleep), which impacts behavior. A child’s behavior can be persistent and extreme. The child is often unable to cope with high levels of stress and anxiety. For example, severe lack of sleep, unstable household, homelessness, lack of love, or food can all contribute to Level 3 behavior.
Additional Resources
Library Video: Preventing Challenging Behaviors – Part 1 – Responsibility and Rules
Library Video: Preventing Challenging Behaviors – Part 2 – Teaching Problem-solving
Gartrell, D. (2014). Guidance approach for the encouraging classroom. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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