In early education programs we expect that children will use emotion and physical means to express themselves (e.g., crying, gesturing, pushing), as they do not have the language or social development to express their needs and desires in a conventional fashion.
As early educators and families we anticipate that challenging behavior will occur and we use those occasions to help children learn. We help the developing child in learning the language and behaviors needed to navigate the complexities of a social world.
However, there are a small proportion of children who challenge us with behavior that is persistent and unresponsive to the efforts of adults to meet their needs and guide their development. These are children whose patterns of challenging behavior are of the nature, or at a frequency, duration, or intensity that exceeds what is developmentally normative.
When children have persistent challenging behavior that is not responsive to the efforts of the early educator and family to address the child’s needs or support the child in developing social skills; there must be an effort to develop an individualized plan for ensuring that the child, early educator, and family is successful.
This guide is designed to assist the mental health consultant in guiding teachers, teams, and families in developing and implementing an individualized plan of support that results in a reduction of challenging behavior and the promotion of communication and social skills.