Challenging Behavior in Early Childhood: Understanding Needs, Feelings and Steps toward Better Regulation and Social Skills

photo of challenging behavior in early childhood ME guest, Dr. Anne GearityIt is not uncommon for a young child to be expelled from child care due to a challenging behavior, especially hurtful behaviors like biting or hitting. And yet it’s hard to imagine a young child who doesn’t occasionally lash out in frustration or anger and have a hard time calming down and re-engaging in a more positive way. In early childhood (birth to 5), children are just learning how to manage emotions, share space and attention with others and handle conflict in reasonable ways.

 

As this week’s Mom Enough guest knows, children learn those lessons best when parents and other adults connect with them, recognize their feelings and engage them in thinking about what they can do differently. Dr. Anne Gearity joins Marti & Erin for a rich discussion that will help you think about and respond to challenging behavior in ways that are effective in the short-run and supportive of healthy development in the long-run. Thank you to Help Me Grow, a supporting partner of Mom Enough, for providing sponsoring this episode of Mom Enough.

 

Dr. Gearity says when children act out they are telling us, “I’m confused. I need your help.” Think of a recent situation in which a young child in your life engaged in a very challenging behavior. How did you respond and how did it work? How would your response have been different if you’d thought of the child saying, “I need your help?”

 

Related resources:

Help Me Grow

Developmental milestones from Help Me Grow

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

Ways to Help Children Think About Better Solutions for Difficult Behaviors tip sheet from St. David’s Center

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