We all like to think of our kids as perfect Little Angles, and of course they are, but lets face it, everyone has their off days and kids are no exception. Sometimes however a pattern of negative behavior may develop and when this occurs we may need to search for answers. I have two kids, both out of Kindergarten now, so as an experienced parent and teacher who has worked the Tokyo Kindergarten scene I have noticed a few things I can tell you.
The following tips may apply at any time but may be particularly prevalent around Kindergarten, Preschool or Daycare age. They are not likely to trigger bad behavior in circumstances that occur infrequently, however if they are ongoing, frequent or prolonged then you need to pay special attention.
1) Health. If you are raising children, and one of them has been behaving badly lately, the first thing to check is their health. Health affect us all, particularly young toddlers. Even as adults we know that coping can be hard when you are unwell. Some health problems for young toddlers include colds or more severe viruses like measles. While these may seem obvious it is often the less obvious health problems like worms or inner ear infections which need to be considered. These may cause your child to become frustrated, impatient or even aggressive. Also if your toddler has been biting other toddlers at kindergarten this may well be a teething problem, so make sure you purchase a good teether to place in your child bag.
2) Group Dynamics. Within any kindergarten, Preschool or Daycare group there are many different personalities. Within International settings, such as the many International Schools found within Tokyo, the differences in culture also add to this mix. Some personalities may get along with your child while others may be more challenging. Other personalities may also be very supportive. The point here is to remember that our child is constantly being subject to “cause and effect” and while this provides the greatest of learning opportunities, its possible, that there may also be times when this negatively affects them.
3) Life Circumstances. Raising children can be hard work and life in a young family (or an old one!) does not always go as planned. Stress in any adult members will also negatively affect the children. The main cause of stress is change and how your child copes with change may depend on their age, personality or the severity of the change itself. Knowing how well your child copes with change is an important point to convey to your Kindergarten, Preschool or Daycare teacher on your child’s first day. Of course big events, such as the death of a family member(or pet), a new baby or moving house should also be conveyed to your child’s carers as such events are known triggers.
4) Over stimulation. Long periods of loud music, Shouting, dancing or simply crowded places with too much loud noise can cause problems too. Kindergartens, Preschools or Daycare centers which are overcrowded with too many children and not enough teachers or space can cause children to behave negatively if the circumstances are prolonged.
5) A recent event. Modeling is a powerful way to change behavior. In this regard what children watch on television can also negatively affect them. They may role model the violence that they have recently seen from T.V. cartoon characters or people. Disturbing events such as a car accident or witnessing domestic violence will also prompt bad behavior.
6) Repeated Negativity. This can come from many sources, however if a child is repeatedly getting into trouble at Kindergarten, Preschool or Daycare, teachers can, in some instances, be consistent in their open criticism of that child. Consistent criticism from teachers can then be picked up by the other children who also add criticism of their own. If a consistent cycle of negativity occurs, and is not broken, the child’s expectations and behavior can then spiral downward.
7) Changes in the school Environment. It may seem obvious but change is the one constant that we are all dealing with. While some change will be seen as positive and other change will be seen as negative, most school management is in a constant battle for overall progress. However, inevitable changes at all levels of a childcare service will occur. Old staff may leave and new staff may arrive, and children are always coming and going. This will affect different children in different ways. Children love a familiar routine because their enjoyment comes from a sustained level of focus which provides them a sense of stability and control. When this is removed it is possible that a child’s behavior will be affected negatively. Regardless of the fact that some change will be outside of managements control, center staff and management need to be sensitive to this reality.
Clearly then some triggers and symptoms may occur outside the home and some may be inside the home. As previously mentioned, the frequency of these triggers is an important factor that needs to be considered. The key to solving any ongoing problem will likely lie in good communication between you and the school and in the joint establishment of an effective behavioral plan.