When children disobey and talk back in daycare, it can be frustrating and challenging for daycare providers. While balk talk is a temporary problem, it can cause a host of problems and disruptions in the daycare setting. Terri Savelle Foy, author of “Make Your Dreams Bigger than Your Memories”, provides tips and strategies for dealing with this type of children’s behavior.
OwnADaycare: Why do preschoolers talk back? Is this just a form of acting out?
Terri Savelle Foy: Preschoolers usually “assert” their thoughts/feelings when they feel that they are not being heard or understood. This is a time when they begin to have an emerging autonomy, and they want to affirm their independence and right to be listened to in a decision-making process. Sometimes they do yearn for attention, and it presents itself in a way that seems like they are acting out, but many times they are looking for affirmation of what they think is not being acknowledged/recognized in their world. Essentially they feel short-changed in some way.
OwnADaycare: Is it a phase and if so, how long does it last?
Terri Savelle Foy: The phase of acting out is usually very short-lived (2 to 3 minutes) from ages 3-4, especially if there are firm expectation boundaries that have been clearly set. Teachers and counselors are often trained to employ/utilize “redirection” strategies which empower students to consider alternative choices for negotiation/compromise and not get into a power struggle with a more directive or “authoritarian” individual. If clear boundaries of respect and trust are in place, then the power struggle moments will be minimized.
OwnADaycare: What can daycare providers do about backtalk? Can you provide 5 strategies to reduce back talk in preschoolers?
Terri Savelle Foy: Here are some strategies for reducing back talk in preschoolers:
a. Set clear boundaries and implement a good behavior management program which will minimize back-talking when respect and trust are instilled in a safe, secure environment. Believe in the “worthiness” of what children have to say.
b. Attentively listen to student’s comments and empower them in working through conflict resolution with collaboration, negotiation, and compromise. Teach them how to learn to think and problem-solve rather than negatively reinforcing their inappropriate verbal responses.
c. Invite students to have a quiet, “reflective”, individualized talk with the teacher and brainstorm ideas to help with conflict resolution if the group setting is too difficult. Don’t forget to “echo” back or summarize what you heard were the student’s feelings/needs that were not being met.
d. Let students illustrate how they are feeling and then talk further about what they think they need that is not being understood.
e. Make a plan to implement the conflict resolution through reaffirming student’s feelings/needs and put into action.
OwnADaycare: How can daycare providers work with parents to reduce back talk?
Terri Savelle Foy: Follow the same protocol in step #3 when working with parents to help them better understand what the child’s feelings and needs are and how to address them in resolving the conflict.
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