Challenging Behaviors in Young Children and Their Functions

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Challenging Behaviors in Young Children and Their Functions
 Anastasia Sims
 ECE201: Intro to Early Childhood Behavior Management (ACP1116B)  June 22, 2011

There are many reasons why young children have challenging behaviors. These reasons, or functions, for behaviors are serving a purpose for that child. It is our job as educators to figure out what those functions are so they can be prevented or managed, in the case of disruptive or dangerous behaviors, or reinforced and encouraged, in the case of those positive behaviors we would like to see flourish. The way to do this is to determine the function of a behavior, implement an individual behavioral support plan, be consistent with it, and maintain the results once you acquire them. The Background

There are three main definitions for challenging behavior according to the text “Challenging Behavior in Young Children” by Barbara Kaiser and Judy Sklar-Rasminsky. The first is definition is that challenging behavior “interferes with a child’s cognitive, social, or emotional development.” (Kaiser, Sklar-Rasminsky, p.7) In this day and age there are so many factors that impede a child in their developmental process that if we can eliminate one of them, challenging behavior, then we are doing the right thing. Next they state that challenging behaviors are “harmful to the child, other children, or adults.” (Kaiser, Sklar-Rasminsky, p.7) It goes without saying that, as educators, the environment that we create in our classroom must be one without things that harm others. If there is a challenging behavior, like aggression, emerging in that peaceful environment then something must be done to manage it and prevent it from happening again in the future. Every student has a right to learn in peace and safety. And finally, challenging behavior “puts a child at high risk for later social problems or school failure.” (Kaiser, Sklar-Rasminsky, p.7) Many people believe, including me, that you are a product of everything you have experienced until now. If a child has behavior issues early in life that are not addressed then it will have a deciding impact on his/her future. It should be in the interest of everyone in the world to help prevent and manage challenging behavior in young children because these children will either directly or indirectly have an impact on them, considering that we are all connected and working in symbiosis on this planet. There are two main risk factors associated with challenging behavior in young children; biological and environmental. Biological risk factors include genes, gender, temperament, and health related factors during and after pregnancy. Genes play a minimal role but can have an impact. Studies show that a person may have a genetic predisposition for anti-social behavior but only 40-50% unless paired with a high-risk environment. In other words, their genes left them exposed to the mercy of the environment, or one could look at it the other way around, that their environment left them at the mercy of their genes. (Kaiser Sklar-Rasminsky, p.19) One’s gender seems to make a difference too. Boys are more aggressive than girls generally speaking but that may be just because, culturally, they are expected to be so. I’ve often wondered if we as a society were to change our view of boys to one of a peaceful perception, if boys would be less aggressive. Temperament is not set in stone, especially if a child’s needs are accommodated. A woman’s health during pregnancy and birth are detrimental to the outcome of the development of the child. Things like diet and substance use/abuse are two factors that can have a lasting impact on the well-being of the child. Neurological problems and emotional disorders may be acquired putting the child at risk for challenging behavior in the future. Environmental risk-factors include the people the child comes into contact with on a daily basis and the conditions...
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