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Behaviour management strategies – 15 tips and ideas for Early Years

We've gathered a selection of expert opinion pieces and advice articles on strategies for managing positive behaviour to help your nursery run smoothly and let all children get on with learning and having fun…

by Teachwire


  • How to tackle behaviour management strategies as a team
  • Why shouting is ineffective for managing behaviour and discipline in schools
  • Tips on management of challenging behaviour such as tantrums
  • Why collective punishment is always wrong as a behaviour management strategy
  • Advice on interpreting toddler behaviour
  • How to manage messy play

Read in 5 minutes…

1 | How to tackle misbehaviour as a team

One of the most important factors in effective behaviour management is having a consistent approach across your whole team. This can be difficult to achieve, because people have their own ideas about what ‘good behaviour’ looks like and how best to go about getting it.

Here, Sue Cowley runs through how you and your team can get the best results by working together.

Read the full feature here.

2 | Behaviour management techniques – Telling a real tantrum from attention-seeking

With very young children behaviour can be inconsistent and hard to read, but knowing your children is the first step.

In this Q&A, Nicola Wardropper, Early Years Adviser at NDNA, talks about promoting positive behaviour in your Early Years setting.

Read the full feature here.

3 | Dealing with challenging situations – don’t shout!

It’s easy to forget that our very young children do not have the emotional armoury that we have at our disposal.

So, when dealing with behaviour, knowing what they respond to, rather than just what we think works, is essential. Here, Nikky Smedley shares her findings about how sensitive children are to tone and volume, and why it’s best not to shout.

Read the full feature here.

4 | Desired behaviour vs undesirable behaviour – explain the reasons behind rules and requests

We need our children to behave so that they can learn in a calm, safe environment, and so that we can teach them effectively. But helping children learn to behave properly is also a vital life skill.

We want our children to behave well in their wider lives, as well as in our settings. And for this to happen, we need more than systems to control behaviour – we must help children understand the why behind what we ask them to do. We must help them develop the empathy that’s at the heart of ‘good behaviour’.

In this article, Sue Cowley explains how and why you can do exactly this.

Read the full feature here.

5 | Tackle unwanted behaviour and help children stay calm

Emotional meltdowns are to be expected from children under five, but there are ways we can tackle chronic overreaction, says Sue Cowley.

Here, Sue shows you why helping children learn how to regulate their own internal reactions is a key part of helping them build an understanding of what is and isn’t appropriate behaviour in different situations.

Read the full feature here.

6 | Collective punishment as a behaviour strategy is always wrong

In this piece, Penny Rabiger explains that while collective punishment might feel right at the time, it is always wrong.

She explores why this tempting ‘last resort’ technique has a counterproductive impact on those who do behave well, and there are also negative consequences to you as the teacher.

Read the full feature here.

7 | Negative behaviour – can’t clean, won’t clean

Messy play – kids love it, but as its name suggests, it does leave a lot to be cleaned up afterwards.

So when the messy play never seems to end, it’s time to take considered action, says Paul Dix.

Read the full feature here.

8 | Challenging-behaviour training

“Our ‘challenging behaviour training’ consisted of a single, one-hour class.” This may sound familiar to a lot of you.

So when threats and time outs don’t work on challenging children, many teachers are stuck as they simply haven’t been equipped with the skills to try anything different.

Here, the Secret Practitioner goes through a few things you can try when you think you’ve run out of options.

Read the full feature here.

9 | Read between the lines of ‘disruptive behaviour’

Adults sometimes interpret children’s behaviour as being ‘naughty’ because it doesn’t fit in with our views about how they should behave. But while some behaviour is designed to get an adult reaction, most of the time a small child’s behaviour is simply about an emotion that they cannot express.

When dealing with ‘disruptive’ behaviour in early years, Sue Cowley urges you to try reading between the lines – and in this article, shows you how.

Read the full feature here.

10 | Behaviour policy on inappropriate language

We all want to encourage talk – but when the language used is inappropriate, it’s important to take action to resolve the issue, says Sue Cowley.

Here, Sue explains what you should do when a child brings inappropriate language into your early years setting.

Read the full feature here and check out her other article on attention-seeking bad language here.

11 | How to interpret a toddler’s inappropriate behaviour

When words fail them, toddlers’ behaviour can take a turn for the worse – but they are still trying to communicate through their actions. So, learning to interpret what they are saying is vital, says Sarah Ockwell-Smith.

Here, she shows you how to do it.

Read the full feature here.

12 | Poor behaviour – why difficult children are just as deserving of our care

They might know how to press your buttons, but the less-well behaved should get the same treatment and professionalism as their angelic peers.

The Secret Practitioner outlines how you can be sure you’re giving difficult children the same care and attention.

Read the full feature here.

13 | Unacceptable behaviour – keep children on the right side of OTT

Kids should be excited about learning, but they can quickly and easily slip into ‘excessively overexcited’ if left unchecked.

In this article, Sue Cowley runs through ways you can keep on the right side of enthusiastic.

Read the full feature here.

14 | Improve behaviour with reflective language

‘Reflective language’ will allow you to acknowledge and validate children’s feelings, boosting self-esteem and improving behaviour in one fell swoop, says Cath Hunter.

In this article Cath explains that reflective language is a subtle way of providing positive messages to a child. That it conveys to the child that you are seeing them, trying to understand them and acknowledging any feelings they may be experiencing. And that it also provides an opportunity to tentatively explore what may be happening for them.

Read the full feature here.

15 | Should you use distraction to manage behaviour issues?

“Ooh, look – a shiny red car!” Distraction is often recommended as a method of controlling child behaviour – but is it the best choice?

In this piece, Sarah Ockwell-Smith explores the issues.

Read the full feature here.

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