Approaches to Discipline and Challenging Behaviors

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A person’s conduct during childhood influences their behavioral patterns later in life and, at times, can be a major predictor of certain outcomes such as involvement in criminal activity. Thus, it is obligatory for every professional who works with children to encourage in them positive actions and make it clear to them when they behave inappropriately. Over the years, scientists, researchers, and teachers have designed numerous approaches in an attempt to facilitate the process of forming and maintaining positive behaviors, especially in children who experience discipline problems. Some of these methods have proved effective and now are adopted by many specialists, and their success stems from the fact they acknowledge different factors influencing children’s behavior.

Developmentally appropriate practices play a major role in every approach to ensuring positive behaviors in children and preventing them from challenging or generally inappropriate actions. For instance, Alford et al. (2015) conducted a study which showed that students who were taught by early childhood teachers who embraced developmentally appropriate instructional practices were more likely to be on-task and work kinesthetically. These findings show that developmentally appropriate practices are effective in guiding positive behaviors in children and encouraging them to study diligently, as well as to avoid challenging behaviors. Such practices are successful because teachers who implement them take into consideration every child’s unique strengths, interests, and needs, their social and cultural environments, to tailor their approach.

As it was mentioned earlier, children’s behavior is affected by a variety of factors, but the most important of all is the home environment and peers. Parents inevitably affect the process of children’s development and have a capacity to influence their conduct. According to Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, children learn by observing others, especially their parents, since they spend most of their time together. The researcher conducted an experiment which showed that children who watched adults acting aggressively were likely to repeat this social model (Lang, 2020). Similarly, peers also play a major role in every child’s life and can significantly affect their behavior. One study discovered that young children are particularly susceptible to ingroup influences; for example, after observing prosocial ingroup members, they shared more and shared less after watching antisocially behaving members (Misch & Dunham, 2021). These findings show that young children’s behavior is heavily influenced by social factors and especially their parents and peers.

There are many guidance strategies which help shape the behavior of children and prevent occurrences of misbehavior or lack of discipline. Setting clear rules for a child is an effective way to ensure that they stay within certain limits, and reminding them about it is essential since preschoolers and toddlers have a short memory. This will help ensure better discipline since children will be constantly aware of what they are allowed and have to do in certain situations. Additionally, it is important to focus on the desired behavior and not the one which the child needs to avoid (Fletcher, n.d.). Combining it with demonstrating positive and prosocial behavior for the child to replicate can be extremely effective in preventing challenging situations. Yet, if children misbehave, the most successful approach to correct it is to let them experience the natural consequences. For example, if they do not put their toys in a basket after playing and then one toy disappears, children will be able to see how their actions caused unfavorable outcomes.

Developmentally appropriate practices are important for ensuring that children behave properly and follow the rules established by the caregivers. As demonstrated by numerous studies, young children are particularly influenced by their social environment, where parents and peers play essential roles in forming every child’s conduct. Thus, it becomes necessary for specialists and caregivers to embrace correct strategies and methods when interacting with children; these include setting clearly-defined rules, focusing on the desired behavior, and allowing the child to experience natural consequences.


Alford, B. L., Rollins, K. B., Padrón, Y. N., & Waxman, H. C. (2016). Using systematic classroom observation to explore student engagement as a function of teachers’ developmentally appropriate instructional practices (DAIP) in ethnically diverse pre-kindergarten through second-grade classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 44(6), 623–635.

Fletcher, A. (n.d.). Positive discipline and child guidance. The University of Missouri.

Lang, D. (2020). Parenting and family diversity issues. Iowa State University.

Misch, A., & Dunham, Y. (2021). Group influence on children’s prosocial and antisocial behavior. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 201, 1–21.

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ChalkyPapers. "Approaches to Discipline and Challenging Behaviors." July 8, 2022.