Behaviour

St. Francis believes that children thrive best when their personal, social and emotional needs are met and where there are clear and appropriate developmental expectations for their behaviour.

Children need to learn to consider the views, feelings, needs and rights of others and the impact and consequences their behaviour can have on people, places and objects.  This requires support encouragement, teaching and setting the correct example.

All staff work in accordance with the following guidance and procedures to ensure all children achieve positive and considerate behaviour.

Achieving Positive Behaviour

  • Our named behaviour management officer is up-to-date with current legislation and research on promoting positive behaviour
  • All staff have relevant in-service training on promoting positive behaviour and are encouraged to attend training on handling children's behaviour and supporting personal, social and emotional development
  • Staff are aware of and respect diversity.  Please refer to our equal opportunities policy
  • We require all staff, volunteers and students to provide a positive model of behaviour by treating children, parents and one another with friendliness, care and courtesy
  • All new staff and volunteers are made aware of our behaviour policy and guidelines for behaviour and expect all members of our setting - children, parents, staff, volunteers and students to keep to these guidelines and apply them consistently
  • We will work in partnership with parents and inform them about their child's behaviour.  Any recurring inconsiderate behaviour will be addressed jointly and using our observation records to help us understand the cause of the behaviour reach a decision on how to respond appropriately

Strategies with Children who Engage in Inconsiderate Behaviour

  • We expect all staff, volunteers and students to use positive strategies for handling inconsiderate/undesirable behaviour, by helping children find solutions in ways that are appropriate for the child's age and the stage of development.  Such solutions might include acknowledgement of feelings, explanation of what is not acceptable, supporting the child to gain control of their feelings so they can learn more appropriate responses
  • We provide enough toys, equipment, resources and sufficient activities to ensure that children do not need to engage in unnecessary conflict over sharing and turn taking
  • We acknowledge and reward considerate behaviour such as kindness and willingness to share
  • We support all children in developing self-esteem, confidence and feelings of competence
  • We support all children in developing a sense of belonging so that they feel valued and welcome
  • We avoid creating a situation in which children receive adult attention only in return for inconsiderate behaviour
  • when children behave in inconsiderate/undesirable ways, we help support them to understand the consequences of their actions and find ways to cope more appropriately
  • We never send children out of the room by themselves, nor do we use a "naughty chair" or "time out" strategy that excludes children from the group
  • We never use physical punishment such as smacking or shaking and children are never threatened with these
  • We do not use techniques intended to single out and humiliate individual children
  • We use physical restraint, such as holding, only to prevent physical injury to children  or adults and/or serious damage to property
  • Details of such an event (what happened, what action was taken and by whom, names and witnesses) are brought to the attention of the pre-school co-ordinator and recorded in the child's personal file.  the child's parent is informed on the same day
  • In cases of serious misbehaviour, such as racial or other abuse, we make clear the unacceptability of the behaviour, by means of explanation rather than personal blame
  • For serious incidents or injuries a record will be made in our incident or Accident Book.  This will be shared with the parents on the same day
  • We do not shout or raise our voices in a threatening way to respond to a child's undesirable/inconsiderate behaviour

Children Under 3 Years Old

  • When children under three behave in inconsiderate or undesirable ways, we recognise that strategies for supporting them will need to be developmentally appropriate and differ from those for older children.
  • We recognise that very young children are unable to regulate their own emotions, such as fear, anger or distress and require sensitive adults to help them do this.
  • Common inconsiderate or hurtful behaviours of young children include tantrums, biting or fighting. Staff are calm and patient, offering comfort to intense emotions, helping children to manage their feelings and talk about them to help resolve issues and promote understanding.
  • If the behaviours are frequent, we try to find out the cause, such as a change or upheaval at home, or frequent changes of carers. Sometimes a child has not settled in well and the behaviour may be the result of “separation anxiety”
  • Each child will have a keyworker, this person will develop a caring, sensitive supportive relationship with the child and provide an attachment figure to ease the child’s anxiety.

Rough and Tumble Play and Fantasy Aggression

  • Young children often engage in play that has aggressive themes, such as superhero and weapon play. Some children appear pre-occupied with this type of play, but their behaviour is not necessarily a precursor to hurtful behaviour or bullying, although it may be inconsiderate at times and may need addressing using some of the strategies above.
  • We recognise that teasing and rough and tumble play are normal for young children and acceptable within limits. We regard these kinds of play as pro-social and not problematic or aggressive.
  • We will develop strategies to contain play that are agreed with the children, and understood by them, with acceptable behavioural boundaries to ensure children are not hurt.
  • We recognise that fantasy play also contains many violent themes, such as blowing up, shooting etc, and that these can refer to “goodies and baddies” and as such offer opportunities for us to explore concepts of right and wrong.

Hurtful Behaviour

  • We take hurtful behaviour very seriously. Most children under five will at some stage hurt or say something hurtful to another child, especially if their emotions are high at the time, but it is not helpful to label this behaviour as “bullying” for children under five, hurtful behaviour is momentary, spontaneous and often without cognisance of the feelings of the person whom they have hurt.
  • We recognise that young children behave in hurtful ways towards others because they have not yet developed the skills to manage intense feelings that sometimes overwhelm them.
  • We will help them manage these feelings by offering support, calming a child who is angry, upset or afraid. Our way to respond to pre-verbal children is to calm them through holding and cuddling. Verbal children will also respond to cuddling to calm them down, but we offer them an explanation and discuss the incident with them to their level of understanding.
  • We recognise that young children require help in understanding the range of feelings they experience. We help children recognise their feelings by naming them and helping children to express them, making a connection verbally between the event and the feeling.
  • We help young children learn to empathise with others, understanding that they have feelings too and that their actions impact on others feelings.
  • We are aware that the same problem may happen over and over before skills such as sharing and turn-taking develop. Children will need repeated experiences with problem solving, supported by patient adults and clear boundaries. We support social skills through modelling behaviour, through activities, role play and stories.
  • We help a child to understand the effect that their hurtful behaviour has had on another child, we do not force children to say sorry, but encourage this where it is clear that they are genuinely sorry and wish to show this to the person they have hurt.
  • When hurtful behaviour becomes problematic, we work with parents to identify the cause and find a solution together.
  • In instances where we believe additional support and advice will be needed, we will obtain this from the relevant professionals ( behavioural support team) This will usually be as a result of exhausting all positive reinforcement strategies.

The main reasons for young children to engage in excessive hurtful behaviour are that:

  • They do not feel securely attached to someone who can interpret and meet their needs, this may be in the home and it may also be in the setting.
  • Their parent, or carer in the setting, does not have the skills in responding appropriately, and consequently negative patterns are developing where hurtful behaviour is the only response the child has to express feelings of anger.
  • The child may have insufficient language, or English, to express him or herself and may feel frustrated.
  • A child who is exposed to levels of aggressive behaviour at home and may be at risk emotionally, or may be experiencing child abuse.
  • The child has a developmental condition that affects how they behave.

Where this does not work, we use the code of practice to support the child and  family, making the appropriate referrals to a Behaviour Support Team where necessary.

Bullying

We take bullying very seriously. Bullying involves the persistent physical or verbal abuse of another child or children. It is characterised by intent to hurt, often planned, and accompanied by an awareness of the impact of the bullying behaviour. 

A child who is bullying has reached a stage in their development where he or she is able to plan to carry out a premeditated intent to cause distress in another. Bullying can occur in children five years and over. 

If a child bullies another child or children:

  • We show the children who have been bullied that we are able to listen to their concerns and act upon them.
  • We intervene to stop the child who is bullying from harming the other children.
  • We explain to the child doing the bullying why his/her behaviour is not acceptable.
  • We help the child who has done the bullying to recognise the impact of their actions.
  • We give reassurance to the child or children who have been bullied.
  • We make sure that children who bully receive positive feedback for considerate behaviour and are given opportunities to practice and reflect on considerate behaviour.
  • We do not label children who bully as “bullies”
  • We recognise that children who bully may be experiencing bullying themselves, or be subject to abuse or other circumstances causing them to express their anger in negative ways towards others.
  • We recognise that children who bully are often unable to empathise with others and for this reason we do not insist that they say sorry, unless it is clear that they feel genuine remorse for what they have done. Empty apologies are just as hurtful to the bullied child as the original behaviour.
  • We discuss what has happened with the parents of the child who did the bullying and work out with them a plan for handling the child’s behaviour.
  • We share what has happened with the parents of the child who has been bullied, explaining that the child who did the bullying is being helped to adopt more acceptable ways of behaving.