Preventing Behavior Problems in the Preschool Classroom

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What are three (3) strategies for reducing and preventing behavior problems in the preschool classroom? Challenging behavior from preschool-age children is normal to some degree: the 'terrible twos' (and threes and fours) are often labeled as such because children of this age group are only just learning to establish an autonomous personality and do so by saying 'no.' However, "chronic, severe challenging behaviors require systematic intervention" (Dunlap n.d.: 9). One way to prevent behavior problems is to present clear, reasonable behavioral expectations at the start of the student-teacher relationship. The consequences of both 'good' and bad' behavior must be clear. There must be a structured routine for the children that make it more 'difficult' for them to be defiant than compliant (Dunlap n.d.: 13). When students do engage in behavioral infractions, the consequences should be swift and fairly-enforced. I know this is particularly important because as a new teacher, I was often inclined to let behavioral infractions 'slide' if I felt the student was having a hard day; but this simply resulted in more behavioral problems later on, with the student rationalizing 'you didn't punish me for x (talking out of turn, hitting, biting, spitting) last time.' Children learn quickly including what they can get away with in the classroom. For children with known behavior problems, giving them positive attention to minimize the benefits of negative attention is essential. Teachers
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