Building Better Behaviour in the Early Years


Chris Dukes & Maggie Smith

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Hands on Guide Series

    Written by two Area SENCOs who work closely with pre-school SENCOs and managers on a daily basis, these books are packed with ready-to-use activities, photocopiable worksheets and advice ideal for all those working with the 0 to 5 age range, such as pre-school practitioners, nursery managers, advisory teachers, SENCOs, inclusion officers and child care and education students and tutors.

    Other books in the series are:

    A Practical Guide to Pre-School Inclusion (2006)

    Developing Pre-School Communication and Language (2007)

    Working with Parents of Children with Special Educational Needs (2007)

    Recognising and Planning for Special Needs in the Early Years (2009)


    View Copyright Page


    This book is dedicated to Eithne Leming and SallyAnn Hart who have inspired and taught us so much.

    About the Authors

    Chris Dukes is a qualified teacher with over 20 years' experience. She has worked in various London primary schools as a class teacher and later as a member of the Senior Management Team. Chris has a Masters degree in Special Needs and through her later roles as a SENCO and support teacher, many years' experience of working with children with a variety of needs. Chris has worked closely with staff teams, mentoring, advising and supervising work with children with additional needs, as well as with other education and health professionals. Chris currently works as an Area SENCO supporting Special Needs Coordinators and managers in a wide range of preschool settings. As well as advising she writes courses, delivers training and produces publications.

    Maggie Smith began her career as a nursery teacher in Birmingham. She has worked as a peripatetic teacher for an under-5s EAL Team and went on to become the Foundation Stage manager of an Early Years Unit in Inner London. Maggie helped to set up an innovative unit for young children with behavioural difficulties and has also worked supporting families of children with special needs. She has taught on Early Years BTEC and CACHE courses at a college of higher education. She currently works as an Area SENCO supporting Special Needs Coordinators and managers in a wide range of pre-school settings. As well as advising she writes courses, delivers training and produces publications.

    Contents of the CD-ROM

    How to Use the CD-ROM

    The CD-ROM contains pdf files of the worksheets from this book organised by chapter. You will need Acrobat Reader version 3 or higher to view and print these pages.

    The documents are set to print at A4 but you can enlarge them to A3 by increasing the output percentage using the page set-up settings for your printer.

    Throughout the book, you will see this CD icon used This indicates that the material you are looking at is also available electronically on the accompanying CD-ROM.

    Contents of the CD-ROM

    01 Poem ‘So it is with behaviour’

    02 Some common behaviour characteristics: 16–26 months

    03 Ideas to try: 16–26 months

    04 Some common behaviour characteristics: 22–36 months

    05 Ideas to try: 22–36 months

    06 Some common behaviour characteristics: 30–50 months

    07 Ideas to try: 30–50 months

    08 Some common behaviour characteristics: 40–60+ months

    09 Ideas to try: 40–60+ months

    10 Taking a holistic view

    11 Some social factors which can affect a child's progress or behaviour

    12 Dealing with feelings

    13 Factors within a setting which positively affect behaviour

    14 What affects how we interpret and/or respond to children's behaviour

    15 Spirals of behaviour

    16 Audit: Does our setting encourage positive behaviour?

    17 Action Plan

    18 25 Golden behaviour strategies for practitioners and parents

    19 Being ‘Emotionally flooded’

    20 Themed Observation Sheet

    21 Themed Observation Follow-up Sheet

    22 Tracking Observation Sheet

    23 Tracking Observation – Setting Plan

    24 Observing and Recording Behaviour Example sheet

    25 Behaviour Follow-up Example Sheet

    26 Observing and Recording Behaviour Blank Sheet

    27 Behaviour Follow-up Blank sheet

    28 Success with Behaviour

    29 Behaviour Support Plan

    30 Points for practitioners: Attachment

    31 Points for practitioners: Being a key person

    32 Points for practitioners: Learning styles

    33 Points for practitioners: Promoting children's independence

    34 Points for practitioners: Offering choices

    35 Points for practitioners: Visual timetables

    36 Points for practitioners: Supporting children to share

    37 Points for practitioners: Developing positive listening and talking skills

    38 Points for practitioners: Developing good body language

    39 Points for practitioners: Circle time

    40 Points for practitioners: Puppets and persona dolls

    41 Points for practitioners: 25 ways to say ‘Well done’

    42 Points for practitioners: 25 ways to build self-esteem

    43 Let's talk about … schemas

    44 Let's talk about … biting

    45 Let's talk about … swearing

    46 Let's talk about … tantrums


    Our starting point for this book is that behaviour should be viewed in the same way as any other area of the early years curriculum. Children need to be shown and supported in how to develop better behaviour by the adults around them, and behaviour cannot be separated from a child's personal, social and emotional development.

    In writing this book we have set out to illustrate that:

    • issues around behaviour are complex and can evoke strong feelings;
    • there is rarely a single answer or a magic wand to resolve difficulties;
    • settings which have built better behaviour are those which are able to look at each child holistically and are reflective about themselves and their environment;
    • when practitioners are able to be reflective they can create a setting that is proactive and positive about behaviour;
    • practitioners with a ‘can do’ attitude feel confident that they can guide and support children to develop better behaviour;
    • there are some key strategies, skills and resources which will help to build better behaviour.

    This book will invaluable to:

    • Pre-school practitioners

      This book will enable you to develop your knowledge and understanding of children's behaviour. You will be supported by practical examples and strategies to use within your setting. The Hands-on activities will provide a starting point for team discussion.

    • Tutors and students

      This book will increase your awareness of issues surrounding behaviour. It will provide a starting point for building on your own current and future practice. The Hands-on activities can be used as short assignments.

    • Advisers

      Use this book to support pre-schools to build better behaviour. The strategies and skills banks particularly can be used for staff training and the chapters on the holistic child and the reflective setting are an excellent starting point for whole-team development.

    A Note on the Text

    The case studies included in this publication are a composite of numerous children in various settings distilled from the authors' many years of experience. They are not specific to any one child, practitioner or setting.

    Poem: So it is with Behaviour

    Learning to behave is a bit like learning to ride a bicycle.

    No child is born knowing how to ride a bike but some have more aptitude for it than others and some catch on quite quickly.

    Other children have to persevere and be shown over and over again or have to have someone running alongside to steady them. So it is with behaviour.

    While they are learning they may need the extra support of three wheels or stabilisers before they have the confidence to try on two wheels.

    They often wobble and lose their balance; sometimes they fall off and have to start over again. Even when they feel they have mastered it, they might find themselves on unfamiliar roads or uneven surfaces which can make them wobble and fall off all over again. So it is with behaviour.

    So every cycle ride is something of a trial and error – they never quite know what they will encounter or how well they will coordinate the steering and pedalling and they still need someone to help them along the right path. So it is with behaviour.

    Practitioners and parents are like the extra wheels or stabilisers on the bicycle.

    They keep children steady until they are ready to try to balance by themselves.

    As children become more confident adults can step back a little but are still alongside

    them to help them when they make a mistake, forget what they have been taught or

    encounter a difficult path.

    So it is with behaviour.

    By Chris Dukes and Maggie Smith

  • Contacts and Useful Organisations

    Chris Dukes and Maggie Smith (authors of Hands on Guides)

    National Early Years Network

    77 Holloway Road London N7 8JZ Tel: 020 7607 9597


    124 Mildred Avenue Watford WD18 7DX




    Call, Nicola (2003) The Thinking Child Resource Book, The Early Years Series. Network Educational Press.
    Department for Education and Employment (2001) Special Educational Needs: Code of Practice. DfEE. Department for Education and Skills (2007) Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. DfES.
    Department for Education and Skills (2008) Practice Guidance For the Early Years Foundation Stage. DfES.
    Donaldson, Margaret (1986) Children's Minds. HarperCollins.
    Dowling, Marion (2005) Young Children's personal, Social and Emotional Development,
    edn. Paul Chapman Publishing.
    Drifte, Colette (2008) Encouraging Positive Behaviour in the Early Years: A Practical Guide,
    edn. Sage.
    Dukes, Chris and Smith, Maggie (2009) Recognising and Planning for Special Needs in the Early Years. Sage.
    Glenn, Angela, Cousins, Jacquie and Helps, Alicia (2004) Behaviour in the Early Years. David Fulton.
    National Children's Bureau Enterprise Ltd (2003) Early Years and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995: What Service Providers Need to Know. NCB.
    Paige-Smith, Alice and Craft, Anna (2006) Reflective Practice in the Early Years. Open University Press.
    Porter, Louise (2003) Young Children's Behaviour: Practical Approaches for Caregivers and Teachers. Paul Chapman Publishing.
    Swale, Jason (2006) Setting the Scene for Positive Behaviour in the Early Years: A Framework for Good Practice. Routledge.
    Visser, Jo (2007) Supporting Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Everything Early Years How To … Series. Everything Early Years.

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