Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior

Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior

Toolbox With Various Worktools On Wooden Surface

Creating Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior

We adapted Creating Teaching Tools to provide you and other teachers with practical strategies that we know to be successful in helping young children with problem behavior. These strategies come from our research activities and experiences in Positive Behavior Support. Click here to find more information on the development of the teaching tools.

The Teaching Tools are designed to provide easily accessible ideas and materials so that you can support children in the classroom and other learning environments. We have tested the strategies offered by Creating Teaching Tools through a pilot study that focused on helping children with developmental delays and problem behavior as they transitioned into public school early childhood special education classrooms.

Table of Contents

Access PDFs, Word and, modifiable Powerpoint documents below:

A User’s Manual

The User’s Manual provides an overview of the entire contents of the Creating Teaching Tools materials. It presents steps to take in using the materials to support young children in the classroom and other learning environments. The manual also provides the following guides and tips for mental health consultants: Steps to follow in using a decision tree for intervention using Teaching Tools; tips for facilitating family partnership; a sample letter to family; developing a consultation plan; supporting teacher during implementation of the support plan; and monitoring child progress and evaluating the plan.

Getting Started: Tips and Forms

Getting Started section provides tips sheets, reproducible forms, and guides as tools to assist in gathering the necessary information prior to strategy selection and during implementation of supports.

  1. Toolkit Tips
    A variety of basic suggestions designed to assist early educators and caregivers in strengthening the social and emotional competence of the children in the classroom.
  2. Communication is Key
    Ideas for how to provide directions and guidance to children in a manner that is positive and supportive of appropriate behavior.
  3. “My Teacher Wants to Know” questionnaire
    A questionnaire designed to help early educators and caregivers gather information from the family about the child’s strengths and challenges in the home and classroom.
  4. My Teacher Has Observed
    A checklist designed to identify child’s needs for engagement in routines, play and social interaction skills, communication skills, and challenging behavior.
  5. Events and Functions Associated with Problem Behavior
    A checklist designed to help mental health consultants and caregivers assess child behavior in relation to classroom events.
  6. Daily Routine
    A simple form that provides an easy way to track challenging behavior and child engagement in the daily routines of the classroom.
  7. Teacher’s Support Planning Sheet
    A simple behavior support planning sheet to list the strategies selected to support child within problematic routines.
  8. Sample Rating Scale 1
    A sample rating scale designed to record the child’s target behaviors and skills within problematic routines or activities that might be used to track the child’s progress.
  9. Sample Rating Scale 2
    A sample rating scale designed to record the child’s target behaviors and skills within problematic routines or activities that might be used to track the child’s progress.
  10. Sample Implementation Checklist
    A checklist for caregivers to self-record their implementation of the behavior support plan or strategies.

Routine Based Support Guide

The Routine Based Support Guide includes strategies for 12 common classroom routines or activities based on problematic situations and the purpose of the problem behavior. The guide provides the strategies for preventing and responding to the problem behavior as well as identifying the new skills to teach.

Buddy System Tips

This folder contains Buddy System Tip Sheet and “You’ve Got to Have Friends”, an article about peer buddies. They provide ideas for using a peer buddy system to support the child with challenging behavior while adjusting to the new setting.

  1. Buddy System Tip Sheet
  2. “You’ve Got to Have Friends” (CSEFEL article)

Teacher Tool

Teacher Tools contains visuals that help children understand common classroom rules and what areas are off limits (i.e., stop signs).

  1. Classroom Rules
  2. Stop Signs (bigmediumsmall)

Turtle Technique

The Turtle Techniques is a method of teaching young children a strategy for coping with anger, disappointment, and frustration. This folder contains an article about anger control, visuals for the turtle technique steps, and a scripted story.

  1. Helping Young Children Control Anger and Handle Disappointment (CSEFEL article)
  2. Turtle Technique
  3. “Tucker Turtle Takes Time to Tuck and Think” Scripted Story

Visual Strategies

This folder provides a rationale and key points for using the visual strategies. Visual schedules, choice boards, cue cards, and activity sequences with a variety of pictured examples are provided to help caregivers develop their own visual supports.

  1. Visual Strategies Tip Sheet
  2. How to Make a Visual Schedule 
  3. Classroom Visual Schedule
  4. Centers (choice boardbraceletsnecklacessigns)
  5. Arrival Mini Schedule
  6. First-Then Board
  7. Cue Cards
  8. Activity Sequence Visual (pottywash hands)
  9. Sample Visuals

Scripted Stories

This folder contains Scripted Story Tips. Scripted stories help children understand a social situation by describing the situation, what the child needs to do, and how others feel when the child exhibits the inappropriate behavior or desired behavior.

  1. Scripted Stories for Social Situations Tips
  2. “I Go To Preschool” Scripted Story (car and bus versions)
  3. “I Can Use My Words” Scripted Story

Circle Time Tip

The Circle Time Tips focuses on visual strategies for helping children understand circle time. The folder includes a scripted story about circle time, rules for circle, and a mini-schedule for understanding and predicting the activities of circle time.

  1. “What Do We Do in Circle?” Scripted Story
  2. Circle Rules
  3. Circle Mini Schedule

Feeling Vocabulary

The Feeling Vocabulary folder contains an article about enhancing young children’s emotional vocabulary. The article provides a variety of strategies to support children around the notion of appropriately expressing feelings. Some of the ideas discussed in the article are also provided in this folder: visuals depicting a variety of emotions, a feeling wheel, and a feeling chart.

  1. Enhancing Emotional Vocabulary in Young Children (CSEFEL article)
  2. Feeling Faces (black and white version)
  3. Feeling Faces (color version)
  4. Spanish Feeling Faces
  5. Feeling Wheel
  6. Feeling Chart

Home Kit

The Home Kit contains strategies and information the teacher can share with families. The folder includes “My teacher Wants to Know”, a questionnaire designed to offer critical information about the child. A scripted story, “I Go to Preschool” is provided to help children with first time transitions to school. A visual mini schedule, “Getting Ready for School” and a tip sheet, “Use Positive Words” are provided for parents to get the child ready for school and to communicate in a way that supports the child’s success.

  1. Home Kit Description and Contents List
  2. “My Teacher Wants to Know” Questionnaire
  3. “I Go To Preschool” Scripted Story (car and bus versions)
  4. “Getting Ready for School” Visual Mini Schedule
  5. Use Positive Words

Supplemental Materials

This folder provides folder labels and binder inserts. The labels and binder inserts provide a way to organize the materials.

  1. Folder Labels (filesfolder pocketskit box)
  2. Storage Binders
  3. CD Label


The Creating Teaching Tools for Young Children (TTYC) was a product originally developed by Bobbie Vaughn, Rochelle Lentini, and Lise Fox of the University of South Florida to provide practical guidance on how to support young children with challenging behavior. It has been disseminated since 2004 through support from the Office of Special Education Programs (grant # H324Z010001 and #H326B070002). Through the current funding provided by the Office of Head Start, we have expanded and updated the TTYC by providing more detailed information on the use of TTYC, adding strategies for toddlers, providing a decision-making tool for determining the support a child might need, and offering specific guidance on how mental health consultants in Early Head Start/Head Start could use these tools with Early Head Start/Head Start teachers, staff and families.

This guide and the related materials were designed to be used by early educators, higher education personnel, consultants, and professionals involved in programs for young children. It is reproducible. None of the materials may be reproduced to generate revenue for any program or individual. The use of the materials should be appropriately cited. The recommended citation is as follows:

Lentini, R., Vaughn, B. J., Fox, L., & Kwang-Sun Blair (2009). Creating teaching tools for young children with challenging behavior (3rd edition). Tampa, Florida: University of South Florida.

This product was developed [in part] under grant number 1H79SM082070-01 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or HHS.