Managing children’s behaviour

Principle and statement of intent

The standards and principles of our policy take into account the U.N Convention on Rights of the Child which states “that the child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society, and brought up in the spirit of the ideals proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity.”

At Bumbles Day Care we believe in young children’s growing ability to control their own lives, to make choices and accept responsibility for their actions. We also believe that all children have the right to expect positive approaches to managing their behaviour, which are consistent with these goals.


Fostering positive behaviour

Managing children’s ‘behaviour’, is about helping children to make judgements about what they can or cannot do, so helping them control their own behaviour through developing in them an awareness of other people’s needs as well as their own, and some understanding of the consequences of their actions on others. Giving explanations, for the reasons certain behaviour is encouraged or discouraged is a key way in which children can develop self-control and come to appreciate the need to respect, tolerate and co-operate with others around them.

At Bumbles Day Care we aim to do this by:-

  • Setting a good example to the children of the benefits of showing care and concern for one another in our behaviour as staff, to each other, as well as to the children
  • Providing interesting and appropriate play activities and meeting children’s individual needs effectively
  • Praising and encouraging examples of children behaving well towards one another, such as kindness and willingness to share.
  • Where age appropriate, discuss ideas and problems, encouraging children to take responsibility for their own behaviour and well being of the group.

Dealing with incidents of unacceptable behaviour

The type of behaviour that we would consider unacceptable at Bumbles Day Care includes:

  • Any behaviour that is potentially dangerous and poses a health and safety risk. E.g. Running inside, throwing sand, throwing toys
  • Any behaviour that inflicts physical pain on another person. E.g. Biting, pushing, hitting, kicking, nipping, scratching, hair pulling
  • Bullying in any form, including any attempt to frighten, intimidate or exclude another child
  • Hurtful and discriminatory remarks which inflict emotional pain, about any aspect of a child’s or adult’s gender, level of physical or mental ability, appearance, ethnic background, religion or personality
  • Any behaviour that is abusive to property. E.g. Misuse of toys, or damage to furniture
  • How we deal with incidents of unacceptable behaviour of course, varies to an extent, depending upon the nature and seriousness of the incident itself, the causes for the behaviour in the first place and the age and personalities of the individual children involved. Taking these factors into account however, general guidelines to our staff team include:

Initially, observing any potential conflict situations from a distance, so allowing children an opportunity to sort them out amicably for themselves.
If it looks as if conflict is becoming a possibility, stepping in to help children negotiate an acceptable solution and trying to diffuse a situation by offering them alternative choices.

Stopping any aggressive or hurtful behaviour right away. This includes stopping and challenging any negative, discriminatory or derogatory remarks and behaviour, which are racist, sexist or stereotypical. Then giving attention (comfort and care), first of all, to the child who has been hurt, whilst possibly using thinking time for the child who has been responsible for inflicting the pain in the first place, before having a chat with them to discuss the situation. Sometimes a child who has caused pain to another child or behaved aggressively can be just as upset as the child who has been hurt. Young children are still trying to come to terms with how to control and cope with their often intense emotions and along with their lack of vocabulary to describe their feelings, this can often lead to them channelling their frustrations, worries, and feelings of anger, tiredness, hunger and boredom through inappropriate behaviour

Involve children in making restitution for the effects of their behaviour, so that they may understand the consequences of their actions. E.g. “Brushing up the sand they threw, tidying up the bricks they threw over the floor, giving the child they hurt a hug to make them feel better”. If a child spontaneously says “sorry” to another, this is to be praised.

In any case of misbehaviour, it will always be made clear to the child or children that it is the behaviour and not the child that is unwelcome.

Discussing with parents any concern about difficulties in managing their child’s behaviour. Possibly they might be able to provide additional information about home life, which might help us to make better sense of their child’s behaviour. It is preferable, if parents and staff decide on a joint plan of action to sort out any behaviour difficulties, as a consistent approach will ensure a greater chance of any problems being resolved.

Thinking time

This may be used when a child’s behaviour is unacceptable. They are excluded from an activity for a short period of time in order to think about what they have done.

Thinking time should be used as an ultimate sanction for unacceptable behaviour and as such, when used appropriately and sparingly, can make a child particularly aware of the adult’s disapproval of their actions.

Thinking Time can be a useful diffusing tactic, which gives the staff member reacting to an instance of unacceptable behaviour:

Time to think about what has just happened and how to discuss the situation with the child on the receiving end and the child who has misbehaved.

It also gives the child a chance to calm down and also to think about what has happened and the effects of their actions on others around them.

Before a child resumes playing a staff member would have a chat, to decide if the child knows why they were given Thinking Time in the first place and as a result come to a shared understanding of events with them.

Thinking Time is a strategy used in Bumbles for the over 2’s and we only exclude children from activities for a period of up to 3 – 5 minutes maximum, appropriate to age.

‘Thinking Time ‘is inappropriate for under 2’s. Some children from 18 months of age probably know if they are doing something wrong intentionally, but a short explanation from staff about what is wrong with their behaviour and redirection of their attention should be enough to deal with any incident.

With younger babies any unacceptable behaviour is probably arising from their desire to explore their environment and consequently staff will distract babies, redirect their attention and alter the environment as necessary to remove temptation from their way.

Managing biting incidents

One type of unacceptable behaviour, which evokes strong emotions in parents, is biting.

Reasons for biting and ways of dealing with it differ with under 3’s and over 3’s. Over 3’s usually have more understanding of how hurtful and disapproved of biting is and they should be able to control their urges to bite. Under 3’s may bite because:

  • They are teething
  • They might bite impulsively
  • They might have been bitten by other children and are passing on the same behaviour
  • Frustration may be expressed through biting

Children are NEVER bitten back.

‘It is a normal part of development for under 3’s to snatch, push, bite and hit.’

Our experience has shown us that this above comment is indeed true. We have also learned however, that snatching, biting, pushing 1 or 2 year olds turn into remarkably civilised 3 year olds, so take heart!

Any form of punishment that humiliates and attacks children’s sense of self and makes them feel helpless is damaging and is NEVER permitted in Bumbles Day Care.

Persistent unacceptable behaviour

In the event that unacceptable behaviour persists, the child’s parents/carers will be asked to attend a meeting with the Co-ordinator and or a member of the management team, to discuss the situation and attempt to find the possible cause for the behaviour.

The Co-ordinator and the parents/carers will, together, develop strategies for dealing with the unwanted behaviour, which could be implemented at home or in Bumbles.

Should it be necessary and with the consent of the parent/carer, advice and assistance will be sought from relevant external specialists to address the matter.

In extreme cases and to protect other children and staff, Bumbles Day Care reserves the right to exclude the child from the group. This may be a temporary or permanent measure.

Monitoring and recording

Any serious incidents will be recorded on a Bumbles Incident form and parents/carers will be informed and asked to sign this when they come to collect their child/children.

All incidents will be monitored for any signs of repetitive behaviours.

Staff will be aware that some kinds of behaviour may arise from a special need and if this is found to be the case we will work with parents/carers, take advice from Early Years team in order to fully support that child and their needs.

Code of practice

All Bumbles Day Care staff have gone through an induction process which includes an awareness of key Policies & Procedures as well as an agreement to a code of conduct aimed to ensure good practice that includes valuing and respecting children as individuals, and the adult modelling of appropriate conduct – which will always exclude bullying, shouting, racism, sectarianism or sexism.

All staff at Bumbles Day Care will try to provide a positive role model for children with regard to friendliness, care and courtesy.

Staff will not raise their voices in a threatening way.

As a team we will take positive steps to avoid a situation in which children receive adult attention only in return for undesirable behaviour.

We will praise the children constantly for positive behaviour.