Mental Health

Looking Beyond Behavior to Discover Meaning

Digging Deeper: Looking Beyond Behavior to Discover Meaning is a unit of four lessons that explore and apply the Responsive Process—Watch; Ask “I Wonder” Questions; and Adapt: Using “Flexible Responses” to the behaviors of very young children. Program staff, education coordinators, trainers, and parents may use this information to build or refresh their observation skills and responses to children’s behaviors. Head Start Program Performance Standards and other resources are included.

Lesson 1: Watch

Understanding a child’s behavior is not easy. Lesson 1 helps you recognize how hard understanding behavior can be. The steps in the Responsive Process are discussed and the first step of the process, "Watch," is explained. A short video clip of a toddler (Katie) arriving at an Early Head Start Program offers an opportunity to practice the “Watch” skills.

Lesson 2: Ask "I Wonder Questions"

Lesson 2 helps you make sense of the many meanings of a behavior. Four key factors that affect behavior are explored using the “I Wonder” strategy for asking questions. You can practice developing “I Wonder” questions using the video clip of a toddler (Katie) arriving at an Early Head Start Program.

Lesson 3: Adapt Using "Flexible Responses"

You’ve “Watched” and asked “I Wonder” questions. Now you are ready to choose ways to respond to the behavior. In Lesson 3, you can use the answers to the “I Wonder” questions (Lesson 2) to help select responses to address the child’s behavior. Muk (Katie’s teacher) shares the answers to her “I Wonder” questions as she explains her responses to Katie’s behaviors.

Lesson 4: Applying "Watch, Ask 'I Wonder Questions,' and Adapt Using 'Flexible Responses' " to Biting

Biting is a common issue for staff working with infants and toddlers. It can cause health and safety concerns and make parents and staff feel upset, frustrated, and even angry. This lesson helps you use the Digging Deeper concepts to understand and identify the reason a baby is biting and, to select appropriate responses to stop the biting.