A descriptive study of how teachers identify and respond to children's challenging behaviour in early childhood education settings.
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Children’s challenging behaviour appears to be increasing with teachers reporting that they require additional knowledge and skills to address this problem. There also appears to be very little research on the strategies teachers currently use to address this behaviour. The aim of this study was to examine how eight teachers identified and responded to children’s challenging behaviour in four different early childhood education (ECE) settings, and directions for future professional development. Data was collected via a mixed method design that included two-hour direct observation of the teacher during a typical day and individual teacher interviews. The findings indicate that all eight teachers identified both externalising and internalising challenging behaviours and referred to the child’s social environment as contributing to challenging behaviour. All teachers indicated a range of strategies to address the challenging behaviour and identified these as having learned through experience, professional development and trial and error. Little reference was given to their ECE teacher training or to the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, indicating a gap between theory and practice. For these teachers, future professional learning and development programmes could provide more emphasis on bridging the gap between theory and practice in terms of responding positively to children’s challenging behaviour in early childhood education (ECE) settings.