Guiding children’s behavior, or setting limits, is a means to help children learn how to take care of themselves, other people and the world around them. Parents are encouraged to use the same positive guidelines to ensure consistency between home and school.

The Tools

First, try using explanation and conflict resolution. If those do not work, and whenever a child may hurt themselves or another child, move on to redirection and/or positive time outs. The child sits out 1 minute per year of age, with a redirected activity. After the appropriate time out, the teacher should then discuss the undesired behavior with the child.

Guiding Principles

Positive behavior management is:

Using verbal appreciation and positive language in a firm but friendly voice
Using positive reinforcement and encouraging children doing desired behaviors
Providing children with alternate solutions to conflicts

Positive behavior management is NOT:

Meant to be a punishment
Meant to make children feel bad


 Say: Instead of:
Sit down while we eat or drink  No standing while you’re eating
 Walking feet  No running
 Feet on the floor  No climbing
 Inside voices  No yelling
 Nice hands  No hitting / pushing / grabbing
 Take turns  Share
 Danger  No / don’t touch

Classroom Activities

We have created a set of cards (in both color and black and white) showing each of the examples above with a picture and in writing. For durability, we suggest printing the cards on card stock and laminating them. Some activities and games you can play with the cards include:

  • Hold up each card and ask the children what they think it means. It may take a few times for the group to catch on, but once the kids know the pictures, they should be able to remember and understand what each means.
  • Ask the kids to model the behavior as the teacher shows each card.
  • As a reward to a student that is showing the desired behaviors, have that student hold up each card and help them in leading a discussion with the kids about what each card means.
  • If a child is not behaving properly, show them the correct card which may help in distracting them and redirecting them into a positive behavior.
  • Send copies of the cards home which will help remind families of the language they should use. Mom and dad can also try the activities above at home.
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