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Inspiring ‘brilliant behaviour’ in young children

date September 4, 2020Ali McClure

Brilliant behaviour is what we all aspire to but, especially in these turbulent times, is it realistic to expect every child to have brilliant behaviour all the time? Perhaps not, but what can we do?

How can we help put the fundamentals in place to support every child on their individual journey towards ‘brilliant behaviour’? Early Years SEND Specialist and SENCO Ali McClure shares with us a few tips to help you on your journey.

Behaviour is communication

Every element of behaviour reveals a communication: there may not be any words involved but we can tell a lot by a child’s body language, facial expression and gestures. Children may not be able to express how they are feeling, especially if it is deep-seated or connected with their emotional wellbeing. So we need to look beyond the behaviour to try to work out what the child really needs and how we can help to fill that gap.

Relationships are key

childminder playing with a child

There is much guidance out there for dealing with behaviour when children return to schools and settings but precious little which focuses on relationships. A very wise foster carer once advised me ‘No correction without connection.’ This makes such sense. As adults, how do we respond if someone tries to point out our errors without knowing the first thing about us or our situation? In turn, how we react to situations and respond to the behaviours of others (children and adults) makes a huge difference to the way everyone feels and behaves. 

Strengthening the parent partnership

Communicate with parents

The partnership between an early years setting and the home needs to be a strong one. Communication needs to be open and for everyone to feel as if they are true partners. Trust is important and once again this comes down to spending time, sharing strategies and – perhaps most importantly – truly listening to your parents. After all they know their child better than anyone. Share strategies, send home stories, invite parents into the setting from time to time – and let them feel truly involved in all their child does.

The role of the ‘key person’

a small anchor on the sand

Attachment is something we are all familiar with these days. Every child needs strong attachment, not only at home but with their key person or special person in their setting. Children need to know that, alongside their parents, we are their anchor of attachment. We are the person they can always rely on, always return to and to always feel safe and secure. What a responsibility! What a privilege!

Emotional wellbeing and ‘life after lockdown’

There are some simple things we can put in place to help children on their journey towards ‘brilliant behaviour’:

  • Provide cosy corners and comfy places: Areas where children can relax, feel safe and connect with other children and yourself.
  • Make time to talk: Avoid being ‘too busy to bother’ or not even to notice. Take time to listen and communicate – not only with the children but their parents and your colleagues too.
  • Take care of yourself: Children are like little boats floating on our ocean. If we have bubbly undercurrents these will affect our behaviour, however hard we try to hide it. The children will pick it up and the waves will be choppier for a while. How to solve this problem? Don’t just take care of the children but take care of yourself too.

So many children, so many challenges, so many strategies… I hope these few suggestions have been helpful on your journey towards ‘brilliant behaviour’.

To find out more, re-watch Ali’s webinar here or visit her website

About the author

Ali McClure SEND specialist

Ali is an experienced and highly respected educator, published author and creator, who uses a wealth of props, lively and fun activities in her training and consultancy; each is backed with a key message, proven to help you not only make a difference, but really understand the reasons why her strategies work so well.

Ali has up to date and first-hand experience as a Special Needs Coordinator, a Primary and Early Years’ Teacher and a Teacher Trainer.

You can follow Ali’s A-Z of Brilliant Behaviour on

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