Social and emotional learning plays a big part in understanding children's behaviours


Identifying, understanding and guiding children’s behaviour is a critical part of educating and caring for children. It is important to develop positive strategies to encourage children and help them to learn appropriate ways of behaving. Children display a range of different behaviours that are a reflection of their perception of their current situation physically and emotionally. These behaviours are not always easily understood and may appear to be deliberately challenging or negative. This is not the case. Social and emotional learning (SEL) and resilience programs for children give a deeper insight into what the behaviours mean, and how to engage with children to best develop their emotional and coping mechanisms.

Children are constantly learning how to engage with the world around them and manage their emotions. A large part of this is learning how to conform to the behavioural expectations of their parents, teachers and peers. It is natural for children to express their emotions or try to achieve their goals in ways that may be challenging due to a lack of understanding of the meaning of their expressions or the effect their actions may have on others. This is a normal part of a child’s development and can usually be addressed through daily behaviour guidance and practicing with different situations and reactions.

What is normal behaviour for children?

There really is no definition of “normal” behaviour when it comes to children and learning. Social and Emotional learning (SEL programs for children) teach us that we all engage in behaviour that challenges others at times, it is part of the human experience. Normality depends on factors such as a child’s age, their personality, emotional development and the environment they have been brought up in. In general, a child’s behaviour can be considered normal if it is socially, developmentally and culturally appropriate. A child’s behaviour may not meet societal or cultural expectations, but meet normality standards by being age-appropriate and not harmful.

What is behaviour guidance?

Behaviour guidance is the amalgamation of all of the things you say and do in order to help children learn and demonstrate acceptable behaviours. The aim of behaviour guidance is to empower children with the ability to better control their own behaviour, relying less on the adults around them to do it for them. Resilience programs for children aim to help children to not only understand what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable, but also to develop the self-control to exhibit these behaviours independently. Whereas punishment can be disrespectful or harmful to a child’s emotional responses, guiding behaviour is always respectful of the child and aims to develop their own responses more effectively. When educators and parents adopt a positive and active approach to behaviour guidance and encourage children to aspire to success, develop a positive sense of self and increase competence, their challenging behaviours are often naturally reduced.

What are some examples of challenging behaviours?

Many young children have tantrums and some children can demonstrate other behaviours like ignoring their parents. Remember that all behaviours are a form of communication for your child, in each action they are to trying to tell you something. By undertaking a social and emotional training program such as Wings to Fly and observing and learning to understand your child better, you will be able to pinpoint exactly what these behaviours are trying to tell you.

How can I help my child learn to guide their behaviour?

Children are constantly learning and evaluating the world around them. They learn more from observing your behaviour directly than they do from telling them how to behave.

It is important to let children know when they are engaging in positive behaviours. Resilience building and SEL programs teach us that guiding behaviour in children is teaching them the behaviours you would like them to demonstrate, rather than what you don’t want them to do.

Children love to know the why. Children need to understand what is acceptable, what is not and the reasons why. The answer to why you cannot pull someone’s hair to get them to move might be obvious to you, but to a child this level of understanding is not often understood until it is explained.

Remember, before you label your child as bad or their behaviour as abnormal, attempt to understand the child’s behaviour to determine the root cause. By engaging in social and emotional learning programs, resilience programs for children, mindfulness and behaviour programs you will be able to get a better understanding of your child’s emotions and needs, and help them to develop their own emotional responses and self control, giving them the wings to fly.

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