Positive Child Guidance (Managing Challenging Behaviour - Tantrums and Biting)

Topics: Tantrum, Childhood, Psychology Pages: 8 (1865 words) Published: March 26, 2013

It is important to remember that almost all young children display stages of “inappropriate” or challenging behaviours such as biting, tantrums, clinging or hitting at various times in their development. These behaviours are usually short-lived and typically improve with guidance and age. There are some children, however, whose challenging behaviours may increase and result in injury to self or others, cause damage to property, interfere with acquiring new skills and/or social isolation. This report investigates the possible causes for challenging behaviors (focusing primarily on tantrums and biting) in infants, toddlers and young children and positive child guidance strategies that are important as the basis for intervention and prevention. It is important to intervene in such a way that appropriate, pro-social behaviors are taught, modeled, and reinforced to ensure lifelong success.

18 June 2011

J M Badenhorst-Awasthi ID: 20090950


On average about 10 % of children younger than five display challenging behaviours (Tremblay, 2000). There has been an increase of children exhibiting challenging behaviours serious enough for parents and teachers to get concerned about disrupting family functioning and classroom routines (Powell, Dunlap and Fox, 2006).

It is necessary for parents and teachers (adults) to work collaboratively in identifying causes of challenging behaviour and implementing relevant positive child guidance strategies that will promote pro-social and acceptable behaviour (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003).

Pro-social / Acceptable Behaviour

Conroy and Brown (2004) highlight the following skills or pro-social behaviours that children should acquire before the age of five (on average):

Getting along with others Following directions Regulating and identifying emotions Conflict resolutions / solutions Persisting on a task Engaging in social conversations Cooperative play

Positive Child Guidance [PCG]

An increasingly familiar term in the field of Early Childhood Education is “Positive Child Guidance”. PCG techniques, instead of Punitive Discipline Techniques are endorsed by experts as the best way to respond to challenging behaviour (Flicker and Hoffman, 2002; Miller, 2007).

PCG is a process wherein adults use certain strategies, e.g. reasoning, giving choices, problem-solving, negotiation and redirection, when dealing with challenging behaviour (Miller, 2007; Porter, 2003).

Challenging behaviours (e.g. tantrums and biting) are seen as an opportunity for negotiation, learning and resolution, instead of something that requires children to be disciplined or punished for (Berk, 2006; Miller, 2007). Factors that influence challenging behaviour

According to Flicker and Hoffman (2004) there are various factors that influence challenging behaviour:      

Emotional: boredom, anxiety, low self-esteem, fear, overstimulation Family: sibling rivalry, divorce, domestic violence, abuse Classroom: overcrowding, too much clutter, excessive noise Physical: hunger, fatigue, illness, soiled nappy Learning difficulties: speech and language, ADD/ADHD Environmental: poor housing, poverty, community violence

Before deciding on the most effective guidance strategy it is very important for adults to consider the (potential) contributing factors. PCG is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. It involves developing a close, trusting relationship with the children and parents and “individualizing” approaches (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003).



A tantrum / temper tantrum is an emotional outburst, usually associated with children that are in emotional distress. Typical characteristics are crying, screaming, defiance, anger,

stubbornness, ranting, resisting attempts to be pacified and sometimes hitting or kicking (Kaiser and Rasminsky, 2003).

Tantrums most commonly happen when children believe (wrongly or rightly) that their wants (not necessarily their...
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