Bam Radio: Tips for addressing misbehavior in preschool

I recently participated in the Bam Radio conversation Bad Behavior: When to Ignore, When to Intervene” with Rae Pica, Mary Gersten, and Kate Williams. This is truly a wonderful discussion and I hope you will stop and take a listen. If you can’t listen to it here or here

Rae Pica with Mary Gersten, Kate Williams, Deborah J. Stewart

I have highlighted some of the points from our conversation that I really found valuable and wanted to share them with you.

When addressing misbehavior consider the following tips…

-You need to know your students well so that you can know when best to intervene and when to wait.

Individualize your responses to the development and needs of each child.

Understand the situation before you intervene – observe and know what is happening first, see how it affecting others, and determine if it is something that can be worked out without your intervention.

-Sometimes misbehavior is a call for help, other times it is a demand for attention, and other times it is simply behavior (that my be annoying to you) but is typical for the age of the child – learn to recognize why the misbehavior exists so you can determine the most effective and appropriate response.

Don’t be nitpicky– the more you harp on a child, the more he or she will start to tune you out.

Be in control of your own emotions, children will pick up on your response so make sure your response is appropriate to the situation at hand. In other words, know if your response is coming from a place of being annoyed or coming out of concern for the well being of the child.

Seek first to understand and take into consideration child development as well as your own

See guidance as a continuous process of teaching and learning

Build bonds with your children

Model the behavior you want to see in your children

Know and love your kids

I would have loved to sit and chat with these ladies all day – they both had so many thoughtful ideas. Be sure to take a listen to the Radio Show: Bad Behavior: When to Ignore, When to Intervene”

By |2011-07-10T06:00:13+00:00July 10th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Julia Simens July 10, 2011 at 10:51 am - Reply

    These are great. I’d also like teachers who work with young kids to
    “individualize your responses to parents”. I have seem one standard comment or email go out to parents when there is a concern. If the teacher does not know the parents and does not tailor an individual response to those parents, it causes more work in the long run.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 10, 2011 at 11:14 am - Reply

      I agree Julia – the best response is one that meets the unique needs of the child.

  2. Vicki Blacken July 10, 2011 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    This is a wonderful discussion on a topic I’ve found to be really difficult for parents. Discipline is often the first issue they ask me about. I agree with all your points and especially support the idea that many challenging behaviors between young children are more easily solved by them, once the teacher has modeled the appropriate behavior and worked with the children to give them the tools to solve it on their own. This seems to be a new idea for many parents in our program-that you wouldn’t automatically step right in immediately. If it’s alright with you, I would like to share this article with the other teacher in our program and use it as a basis for discussion at our Parent Orientation this fall. Would that be permissible? Thanks so much for all your great ideas!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      It would be my pleasure for you to share the information with your colleague:)

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