State What Children Should Do

  1. Tell a child what to do instead of what not to do.
  2. Show the child by modeling or using a picture of the action.
  3. Clearly and simply state what you expect the child to do.
  4. Remember that young children may use inappropriate behavior because they do not understand the social rules and/or because they are unable to consistently apply what they are in the process of learning.
  5. Talk to young children using language they understand. Young children may not understand a word like “don’t” because it is a short word for “do not” and he/she may not know what the “negation” of a word means.
  6. Encourage the child in a way that lets him/her know that he/she is exhibiting the desired behavior. Use positive, descriptive acknowledgement while the child is making an effort or is doing the desired behavior.
  7. Some children will respond better to more subdued expressions, and acknowledging them in a “matter of fact” way might be more effective.
  8. For the most part, be enthusiastic and generous with encouragement. Most children can never get enough!

Here are some examples:

Redirecting Behavior

Redirecting is a proactive teaching strategy used to address challenging behavior (something that interferes with learning and engagement in prosocial interaction) BEFORE it escalates or continues. Redirecting:

  • Allows a teacher to guide children to engage in alternative behaviors that are more acceptable.
  • Consists of instruction and simple cues teachers can easily embed into teachable moments throughout the day.
  • Is one of multiple proactive teaching strategies teachers use in combination with other strategies (e.g., creating classroom rules, clearly stating expectations for classroom behaviors).
  • Stops a child from engaging in a challenging behavior before it escalates.
  • Re-engages a child with appropriate activities which is key to maximizing learning time.
  • Maximizes learning time for all children in the classroom as they will not be distracted by the challenging behavior.

Teachers redirect challenging behavior by

  • Minimizing attention to the challenging behavior.
  • Providing a clear description of the behavior expected from the child (e.g., “You can ask for a turn nicely,” or “We play with the trucks by driving them on the carpet.”)
  • Providing positive attention and/or feedback (e.g., “That’s playing with the trucks safely, Miguel! I see you are driving them on the carpet.”), or access to the desired material as soon as it is available.

Redirection can be used when a child

  • is off task to redirect attention to the task.
  • uses materials inappropriately to provide a reminder of how to use the materials properly.
  • talks out of turn to help the child wait for a turn.
  • gets upset by a situation to guide the child away from that situation, to address the child’s feelings, and to engage the child in an alternate activity

Four types of redirecting are most commonly used in the preschool classroom:

  • Verbal redirecting: A teacher gives an instruction which distracts the child from the challenging behavior and directs him to a more appropriate activity.
  • Physical redirecting: A teacher physically prevents a child from engaging in a challenging behavior and redirects her to an alternative or new activity.
  • Redirecting with a cue that is visual or gestural (e.g., a picture or gesture).
  • Redirecting attention to a positive model in a child’s proximity (proximal attention): For example, a teacher draws attention to a nearby child who is engaged in an appropriate behavior.