Maryland EXCELS Toolkit  

Positive Behavioral Practices Policy

Children develop socially and emotionally through caring interactions and the positive guidance you offer every day. Your program's positive behavioral practices are documentation of the support and guidance you give to children. Focusing on positive behaviors, providing visual cues, and helping children understand what they should do are important steps in promoting positive social skills and self-discipline.

A written policy that describes these practices is one way to communicate to others how you promote positive behavior, take steps to avoid negative behaviors, and help children gain important social-emotional skills for meeting life's challenges.

illustrated female character holding up a paper saying “Do’s” and another showing two children playing  with toys
Use Positive Child-Friendly Words & Visual Cues

This section guides you through reviewing, revising, or creating a policy that meets the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Positive Guidance: DAP 3.5. To meet the requirements, your policy should describe the use of four specific positive guidance strategies:

  • providing choices
  • redirection
  • reflection and problem solving
  • clear rules and expectations developed with input from the children

Select the Requirements tab to learn about the DAP 3.5 requirements for your program type.

Requirements

Let's look at the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Positive Guidance: DAP 3.5. Key requirements are marked by a bright dot. Select each dot for information about what to include in your documentation.

Select the option that applies to your program type:

 

  Child Care Center

  Family Child Care
DAP 3.5: Positive Guidance Provider and any staff use positive behavioral supports and strategies with children that include: providing choices, using redirection, reflection and problem solving, and clear rules and expectations developed with input from the children. Documentation to submit: Positive Behavioral Practices Policy

  School-Age Only
DAP 3.5: Positive Guidance Staff uses positive behavioral supports and strategies with children that include: providing choices, using redirection, reflection and problem solving, and clear rules and expectations developed with input from the children. Documentation to submit: Positive Behavioral Practices Policy

 

Instructions

To meet the requirements for Developmentally Appropriate Learning and Practice: Positive Guidance: DAP 3.5, your written policy for positive behavioral practices should clearly show how your program uses the following strategies with the children:

The Policy or Statement Builder provides a step-by-step guide for creating your statement.






Positive Strategies

Your program’s policy for positive behavioral practices should contain positive strategies for addressing children's behavior. What do positive behavioral practices look like "in action"? This interactive helps you identify how proven and effective strategies can be incorporated into your program to support children's behavior.

Consider the following situation:

Michael is a four-year-old child in your program. His mother drops him off and starts to leave. Michael becomes visibly upset. He begins crying and yells “Nooooo, Mommy!” flailing his arms and legs.

Find out how these positive behavioral practices might work to support Michael’s transition into his day.

Option A: Providing Choices

 

Providing choices to children gives them opportunities to make decisions and guides their independence. Choices communicate to children that they have some control and responsibility, which helps to increase their interest, attention, participation, and overall engagement in daily activities.

Providing Choices in Action:

 

Present two activities you feel will help Michael transition into the day. Encourage him to choose the activity to start his day. Be prepared to make a choice for Michael you feel he will enjoy using kind supportive words like, “I think it will be fun for us to play with blocks this morning. Let’s build a tall tower together over here.”

Option B: Redirection

 

Redirection is a proactive method for responding to challenging behavior. This strategy gives children alternatives to a behavior that may be problematic in different situations. Redirection can be used to increase a child’s engagement and participation, or when the child is on the verge of losing control.

Redirection in Action:

 

Ask Michael to help you set the table for breakfast, or lead him to areas where other children are engaged in activities that interest Michael.






Providing Choices

Providing choices to children allows them to develop decision making skills, responsibility, and positive self-esteem. The sense of control children develop when you give them choices helps them make their own positive choices later. You can provide children with choices throughout the day as part of daily routines.

What does the documentation look like?

Your written policy of positive behavioral practices describes in detail how children are offered choices throughout the day. It includes all occasions where children are offered choices.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

When you read your written policy, you can picture exactly how and when children have opportunities to make choices throughout the day. Ask someone to read your policy to see if they understand the policy as clearly as you do. Remember that families unfamiliar with your program will be reading your policy to learn more about your program, perhaps before enrolling their child.

 

Where can you learn more?

This article explores how providing choices to children works to empower them and improve behavior:

Using Choice and Preference to Promote Improved Behavior

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Redirection

Redirection is another proactive behavioral strategy that gives children positive alternatives to challenging situations and behaviors. There are four types of redirection:

Verbal

The adult gives simple directions that distract the child away from the challenging situation or behavior and guides the child to more appropriate alternatives.

Physical

The adult gives a simple direction with a gentle touch that interrupts the challenging behavior and guides the child to more appropriate choices.

Uses Visual Cue

The adult pairs a simple direction with a visual cue (picture or gesture) to prevent a behavior from occurring and guides the child to an alternative choice.

Draws Attention

The adult draws attention to examples of the positive behavior.

 

What does the documentation look like?

View the video to see the four types of redirection in action. Think about the ways you use redirection to guide the children in your program.

Redirecting Behavior
 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

When you read your written policy, you can picture exactly how children are guided and redirected before negative behaviors occur. Ask someone else to read your policy to see if they understand your policy.

 

Where can you learn more?

This article explains common strategies for guiding children's behavior in positive ways. See if you recognize any of the strategies as part of your daily interactions with children in your program.

Basic Tips Child Care Providers Can Use to Guide Children’s Behavior

Basic Tips Child Care Providers Can Use to Guide Children's Behavior - eXtension

Children need adults to teach, guide, and support them as they grow and learn. Child care providers play an important role in guiding children's behavior in positive, supportive, and age-appropriate ways. The most appropriate ways to guide behavior are different at different ages, depending on their developmental abilities and needs.






Reflection and Problem Solving

Learning to reflect rather than dwell on a problem is a helpful step in facing and resolving challenging situations. Consider this five step approach to problem solving with children1:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Brainstorm three ways to handle it
  3. Choose one way to try first and decide on a back-up plan
  4. Try out the strategy
  5. Evaluate how well the strategy works

Modeling, teaching, and helping children practice these steps all contribute to positive problem solving skills. Supporting children to reflect and problem solve encourages them to believe in themselves as successful problem solvers and builds healthy social and emotional skills at an early age.

1Pawlina, S. & Stanford, C. (2011). Preschoolers grow their brains: Shifting mindsets for greater resiliency and better problem solving. Young Children, 66, 5, 30-35.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your written policy describes in detail how you use reflection and problem solving with children to guide their positive behavior. Consider providing specific examples to support your policy.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

When you read your written policy, you should find sentences that describe how your program uses reflection and problem solving with children. Try underlining specific sentences to be sure you described your program’s reflection and problem solving practices in addition to other positive behavioral strategies.

 

Where can you learn more?

This brief article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) explores specific strategies and scenarios for fostering the problem solving skills of young children.

Preschoolers Grow Their Brains: Shifting Mindsets for Greater Resiliency and Better Problem Solving

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Clear Rules and Expectations Developed with Input from Children

Rules help children and adults understand and meet the expectations of your setting. State rules and expectations in clear positive terms so children can target specific behaviors that help them to follow the rules and to meet the expectations. Adults serve as models for the children. Therefore, the same rules and expectations should apply for everyone. Be sure to reinforce the rules consistently so children can predict consequences and outcomes.

When children are part of the process of establishing rules and expectations, they are more likely to feel a part of their environment and better able to follow the rules. Children may also show greater interest in helping others to follow your program’s rules and expectations if they are involved in the process of establishing them.

 

What does the documentation look like?

Your behavior policy describes how you establish, model, and reinforce clear rules and expectations that guide children’s positive behavior. Check to be sure that your policy clearly describes how children are part of the process for developing the rules and expectations. Your documentation can include a list of your rules and expectations as part of your policy.

 

How can you tell if you're on the right track?

When you read your behavior policy, the rules and expectations are clearly understood by children and adults. Remember that families unfamiliar with your program may read your policy to learn more about your program before enrolling their child. You should be able to identify where your policy states that children’s input is part of your program’s approach to developing rules and expectations.

 

Where can you learn more?

This module from The Iris Center at Vanderbilt University explains the importance of rules and expectations.

Understanding Behavior Expectations and Rules

IRIS | Page 2: Understanding Behavior Expectations and Rules

For most young children-that is, those ages three to five-school is a complex and novel setting. Educators should not simply assume that young children will intuitively understand the expectations of this new environment. Rather, early childhood teachers need to be prepared to support and promote appropriate behavior.






Policy or Statement Builder

This interactive helps you create a policy that describes your program's positive behavioral practices, including how your program uses providing choices, redirection, reflection and problem solving, and clear rules and expectations with input from the children. You have the option of emailing your responses to yourself and editing your final policy before uploading it to the Maryland EXCELS System.

 

Build-A-Statement: Positive Behavioral Practices

Final Touches

Give your written policy a final check as you prepare to upload it to the Maryland EXCELS System. Consider asking someone to read your policy to make sure it clearly explains your program's positive behavioral practices.

 

Check to be sure your policy includes:

 
 
 
 
 
 

Save your document:

  • Use a file name that you can find easily when you upload it to the system. (example: positive-behavior.docx)
  • Use any one of these formats:
    • Typed electronic version of your written policy (examples: Microsoft Word, PDF)
    • Scanned versions of your written policy (examples: PDF, PNG, JPG)
    • Digital image / picture of your written policy (examples: JPG, PNG, PDF)

Next Steps

Use the following guide to upload your documentation, look ahead, and think about a plan for improvement.

 

Step 1: Prepare to Upload Your Document

  • Locate your username and password for logging into your Maryland EXCELS account
  • Locate where you saved your written document on the computer
 

Step 2: Look Ahead and Plan for Improvement

Look Ahead

Congratulations! You are ready to upload your program’s positive behavioral practices policy to meet the requirements for DAP 3.5.

Plan for Improvement

Set a goal to review your program’s rules and expectations periodically as the children mature and gain positive social-emotional skills. Remember to upload any policy changes to the Maryland EXCELS System.

 

Step 3: Upload Your Documentation (DAP 3.5)

Log in to the Maryland EXCELS System to upload your written policy of positive behavioral practices.

screenshot of Maryland EXCELS upload screen with a comment box
Upload Documentation