This month, we are introducing a series of articles to help providers address challenging behaviors exhibited by children in their care. This article provides a brief introduction to the causes of challenging behaviors. Next month, we’ll address some ways that you can respond to those challenging behaviors.
What are challenging behaviors?
Challenging behaviors in children can be described simply as unwanted, inappropriate, or maladaptive ways of interacting with self and environment. The behavior doesn’t work in the setting in which it’s being exhibited. The behavior is ineffective and may even be harmful or detrimental.
Why do challenging behaviors occur in young children?
Young children have very few ways of effectively communicating and regulating their desires and emotions; they simply have yet to learn the necessary skills. They often engage in a behavior, challenging or otherwise, as a means of expressing themselves and attempting to communicate with those around them.
Also consider these possible causes of challenging behaviors: medical conditions, tension release, developmental disorder, attention-getting mechanism, neurochemical imbalance, poor self-regulation skills, psychiatric disorder.
What’s the takeaway for child care providers?
Challenging behavior is not personal, it’s functional. That means that there is a cause or reason behind all behavior. As providers, you must work to understand and support a child whose behavior is challenging.
In next month’s newsletter, we will provide some direction on how you can create an environment that reduces the occurrence of challenging behaviors. We will also give an overview on how you can help to educate children to appropriately express themselves using targeted instruction, modeling, and reinforcement.
You can reach out to our Behavioral Health Specialist if you would like a one-on-one consult in-person, or via phone or email.