How to reduce negative behaviors in the preschool classroom

By Erika Rivera 14 May 2021

Inappropriate behavior in the classroom can arise for many reasons and negatively impact a child’s education. Although disruptive behavior can pose a challenge for teachers, there are several strategies you can use to minimize misconduct so that teachers can fulfill their roles in an atmosphere that’s suitable for teaching and learning.

Praise positive behavior throughout the day

Praising positive behaviors throughout the day gives children the ability to recognize proper behavior and understand teacher expectations better. Once you start implementing this strategy around the classroom, you’ll notice that children will mimic the type of conduct you're praising and will be motivated to be at their best behavior. Be mindful, however, that children will be naughty, and it’s impossible to have consistent positive behavior all day throughout the day. So be sure to reinforce this method as soon as you begin to witness disorderly conduct.

Child Journal

Provide proper support/materials to meet student needs

A child’s misbehavior could bring to light plenty of problems and negatively affect your educational teaching. But be aware that a child’s disorderly conduct could also be the child’s way of communicating frustration. Every child under your care is different and grows and learns at his or her own time and pace. Understanding student needs and providing children with adequate accommodations can significantly decrease inappropriate behavior in the classroom. Therefore, as you are fulfilling your lesson plans, ensure that you are including teaching methods and support materials that will accommodate all learning styles.

Remove toys that may cause chaos

Certain toys and activities can stimulate loud, inappropriate behaviors. Before purchasing toys or materials for your educational activities, think ahead about how they could enable your child’s behavior and determine whether they are appropriate for your classroom goals. For example, if your theme of the week is dinosaurs and you plan on purchasing figurines that children can play with, but you don’t want them to mimic the feistiness of dinosaurs during classroom time, then transfer these toys outdoors where they could portray these characteristics loudly and freely. Be sure to also contact your students’ parents through Child Journal to discuss the type of toys that are acceptable in class. That way, parents understand classroom expectations and you won’t have to waste time discussing this, especially during drop-off time, where it’s common to witness toys from home.

Implement transition activities that increase engagement

Boredom and disinterest raise the chances for inappropriate behavior in the classroom. Therefore, it’s important to develop lesson plans that contain activities that will prolong a student’s attention span. Transition activities are ideal for keeping kids focused on the plans you have for the week and actively participating in lessons that are crucial to their development. There is no need to worry about losing them to other distractions as it’s an effective way to trap their undivided attention and decrease mischief in the classroom.

Analyze challenging behaviors

Observing your students at every moment can take you a long way in learning when inappropriate behavior arises and what situations trigger it. These opportunities give you the chance to analyze the situation and make changes that will eliminate negative behaviors. For example, if you've learned that a child begins to misbehave during centers, try to determine whether the misbehavior stems from a lack of assistance or competency. Understanding these details can provide you with the information you need to assist the child and eliminate the misconduct.