Managing Behaviour in Early Years

According to the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework “providers are responsible for managing children’s behaviour in an appropriate way” and “must not give corporal punishment to a child”. Although this sets a firm boundary for not breaking the law where physical punishment is not allowed, it still leaves a blank page for guidance on managing a child’s behaviour. So, what is best practice?

Promoting Positive Behaviour
Children learn about behaviour within a social context, which is why carers and teachers are key as positive role models in displaying behaviours they wish children to comprehend. It is vital that practitioners understand that behaviour is learned much in the same way that children learn how to walk or talk; through imitation, role modelling, encouragement, praise and reward.

Managing Difficult Behaviour
Behaviour which proves challenging can be a strain on practitioners, however there are strategies to managing it:

  • Only issue one command at a time – too many requests can lead to confusion and frustration. Also allow a few minutes for a child to process and act on the command rather than repeating yourself.
  • Ignore challenging behaviour – this means quite literally, with no talking, no eye contact or physical contact.
  • Give feedback on negative behaviour – provide options for how they can change to improve the behaviour and explain the consequences of the behaviour.
  • Don’t give mixed messages – give a compliment as just that, a compliment. Do not make it ineffective with any negativity.

Define Acceptable Behaviour
By clearly outlining and defining boundaries you will be teaching children some fundamental cognitive skills regarding which behaviours are and are not acceptable. By creating a positive behaviour policy you’re able to have rigid guidelines in place which fall in line with the EYFS, represents your setting’s values and ethics and exhibits your commitment towards their child’s care.


Want to learn more? Attend one of The Midlands Training Company’s Behaviour Management Workshops or courses, please contact us at or call 02476 714873.

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