Breaking through barriers for workers
who have children with special needs

Promoting Positive Behaviour

Family Resource Programs Canada 707 - 331 Cooper Street, Ottawa ON K2P 0G5 1-866-637-7226
No one likes nagging, yelling and punishing, neither adults who do it nor children who are on the receiving end. Here are a few ways to encourage the kind of behaviour that can make the day go more smoothly for everyone.
Organize to prevent problems
• Organize the environment to make it easy for children to do the right thing. For example, install coat hooks and toy storage shelves where children can reach them; put away breakables.
• Provide enough appropriate supplies and materials for everyone.
• Supervise carefully, be observant and act to change the situation before behaviour gets out of control.

Keep a routine
• Establish some structure and routines throughout the day.
• Prepare children for upcoming activities.
“After the toys are put away, we’ll put on our jackets and go outside to play.”
• Make sure that children have nutritious snacks and meals.
• Avoid too much TV or any long periods of inactivity.
Decide what’s negotiable and what’s not
• Set simple, firm, clear limits which apply to everyone.
• Once you’ve set the limits, stick to them.
• Within the limits you set, allow children to make choices that are appropriate to the situation and to their ages.
Keep your language positive
• Show children how you want them to behave by setting a good example.
• Say what to do instead of what not to do: “Use your quiet voice in the house.” Avoid overuse of words such as “no”, “don’t” and “stop”.
• Show children that you like being with them: smile, make eye contact, call them frequently by their name and use words of encouragement and hugs.
• Use your voice as a teaching tool. Speak slowly, calmly, distinctly and directly.
• Let children know you notice when you like their behaviour. A little positive feedback goes a long way!
Pay attention to feelings
• Listen for the feelings behind children’s words and actions and reflect them back: “It sounds like you’re feeling ....”
• Remember that, just like adults, children sometimes have a bad day and that is okay.
Examine your attitude
• Know what behaviour is typical for different ages. Let this guide you as you decide what you can reasonably expect from a particular child.
• Choose activities that you enjoy and do these with children. Enthusiasm is contagious.
• Be aware of your own stress level and take care of yourself.

This resource sheet was adapted from material developed by Janice MacAulay, Jane Fox and Cindy Helman for Caregiver Training, a collaborative training program of the Family Resource Services Group and Home Child Care Agencies of Ottawa-Carleton.