Home Visiting Series: Behavior and Its Meaning
Randi Hopper: Thank you for joining today's webinar on "Behavior Has Meaning." My name is Randi Hopper, and I'm a senior training and technical assistance specialist with the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning, also known as DTL. Today I am joined by Treshawn Anderson, a senior subject matter expert with DTL, who is also a presenter on the "Teacher Time" webinars and one of the facilitators of the MyPeers "Teacher Time" community. I also want to share that we have two other members of the "Teacher Time" family helping us out in the Q&A box today, Jan Greenberg and Judi Stevenson-Garcia. Before we get kicked off into our actual "Behavior Has Meaning" information, we just want to acknowledge that we, all of us, you, me, your families and children that we serve, all of us are coping with some new and challenging times right now, and it is really important to be mindful and reduce your stress for your own health as well as to promote mindfulness and stress reduction in the families and the children that are out there that you're serving.
We're going to watch this very mindful breathing video with our little puffer friend that we see here, and we're going to practice just a couple very deep breaths. As we watch him move up, we're going to take a breath in, and move down, we're going to take a breath out. So, this great video was created by some headache specialists at the Kansas City Children's Mercy Hospital in collaboration with Bazillion Pictures, Incorporated, and it's actually helped to make sure that that breath and pacing is helping your body calm and your mind be calm. So, as the video is going to start, we are going to take a look and breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, and breathe out. We'll just go through one more cycle. Breathe in and breathe out. So, I'm stopping our video here, but this is a minute-long video that you can explore on your own and be able to practice some deep breathing. Especially with children, this is a great visual to have and then be able to use it in different environments, such as the grocery store and things like that, to be able to say, "OK, let's, capitalize on our inner puffer fish to make sure that we can calm our bodies and our minds." So, let's push through to talk about our objectives for today.
We really want to focus on discussing the ways that children behave and the way that they communicate and the way they use that as a way to focus on the form, which is what the child is using to communicate, and the function, which is that meaning behind that behavior. And we're also going to share some key strategies with you about understanding how children are communicating that and some helpful resources during this time, especially as we're seeing more and more people being at home and more families with their children.
All right. So, as a reminder, we're to get us kicked off into really the purpose, so just a reminder about the purpose of our home-visiting programs, and so really, us as home visitors are supporting parents within their role as being their child's first and most important teacher, which in turn promotes that positive child outcome. Now, in this time, we may be in a position where we can't necessarily be physically in the homes right now, and so we also have to extend this on a virtual level. How do we extend this through phone calls, through video, to be able to continue to promote this purpose? So, part of that is knowing some adult-learning principles and the skills that parents need to work with their children over the course of the time in between those connection points that we have with them. So, we're going to put up a poll, and I want you to identify some of the parenting behaviors that really promote that parent-child relationship, so you're going to select as many behaviors as you think apply. All right?
So, a parent that's predictable, a parent that is empathetic and sensitive, emotionally and cognitively available, one that pairs words with actions, and one that follows the child's lead or that is present in the moment. So, which one of those do you really think is going to help promote a responsive, secure parent-child relationship? I want you to select all that you think apply, and I'm going to keep kind of talking as we're going through them. I'm going to give you about 15 more seconds to select all the ones that you think apply during this time, and then also I'm going to kind of review those as we push it forward to everybody else. So, we have a high number of people on our webinar today, as a lot of people came to register and everybody was able to attend, and so now I'm going to push it out to our audience. We have about 20% of our participants right now that you're going to see their results, but as we push it out, you're going to continue to see those results fluctuate.
So, what you see here is that many selected that emotionally and cognitively available parent as kind of the best thing to promote that parent-child relationship, but really what we're looking at is that all of these behaviors promote that responsive and secure parent-child relationship.
These behaviors build consistency and a predictable base that's really going to help children to trust and explore their environment, so supporting these behaviors in parents can help them handle behaviors that really challenge them. So, our first step to helping build and support this relationship is helping parents understand that a responsive relationship with a consistent primary caregiver builds positive attachments that support healthy and social-emotional development. This right here, if you're new to our webinar, we want to introduce you to our Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework here, and if you're not then we hope that you're very familiar with this, but really, we want to just focus on the aspect of healthy social and emotional development. So, a parent has a role as a facilitator of these children's early experiences, and the home visitor supports the parent to understand where the child is developmentally and where they are progressing, which includes their social and emotional development. So, the understanding is really important for healthy social-emotional development because it allows the parent to reflect on their child's behavior and respond effectively to that behavior.
We're actually going to watch this video about ideal emotions because we do talk about healthy social and emotional development, but a key part of those emotions and that development is culture. So, culture is a huge factor, and it actually makes it vary in a way that a child might display their behavior. It impacts how parents communicate with their children, and it does impact that positive parent-child relationship. So, this video is a great video to be able to concentrate on how we feel and think about culture, not only our own, but with those families that we work with.
Teacher: The little girl was far from home.
Woman: As schools across America become more diverse, what are the implications of culture in the classroom? Dr. Jeanne Tsai, who directs the Culture and Emotions Lab in the Psychology Department at Stanford, says for starters, culture greatly influences what's known as our ideal affect.
Jeanne Tsai: Ideal affect refers to the affective states, or the feelings that people value, desire, ideally want to feel. And this is really as opposed to the feelings that people actually have, or what we call their actual affect.
Woman: Dr. Tsai initially conducted a series of studies with adults – some European American, some East Asian – to measure the specific feelings they ideally wanted to feel, or their ideal affect.
Jeanne: What we found was that North American context, European-American contexts really value these excitement states, or what we call high arousal positive states, like excitement, enthusiasm, elation, more than many East Asian contexts, which really value the more calm states: calm, peacefulness, serenity what we call these low arousal positive states. And what's interesting is that across a variety of different studies and samples, we always find these cultural differences in how people want to feel, or their ideal affect. And we often don't find any differences in how people actually feel. And we think that this is because culture teaches us what's desirable, what's moral, what's virtuous. A lot of cultural psychologists have talked about that as being one of the primary roles of culture. And we've just applied this to the idea of emotions, that culture also teaches us what emotions are moral, right, and virtuous.
Woman: At what age do culture and cultural differences effect ideal affect?
Jeanne: Kids begin to develop an understanding of the emotions that they should feel or that they should display on their faces right around preschool age, between the ages of 3 and 5. So, we reason that once they develop this kind of understanding, that's when we should see cultural differences in ideal affect. I think it's really important to consider not only how culture shapes the languages that people are speaking. or the kinds of foods they're eating, but also how culture shapes the students' psyches and how they're thinking and feeling and relating to others. And I think if educators can be sensitive to those cultural differences, then we can reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings, mischaracterizing a child as disengaged or as not being creative or not having the potential to be a leader when they might have all of those things, they're just coming from a culture that manifests those qualities in a different way.
Teacher: Still exploring all the colors.
Jeanne: If we could have classrooms that could accommodate that and really benefit and capitalize on the cultural differences, I think we would all learn much more rather than being restricted to just one way of being.
Randi: All right. So, that is a great video that really talks about the different parts of and the impacts of culture, and we really want to make sure that we look at how culture values different things, like being excited and being calm, and it's important to understand those differences to avoid making assumptions even about children's behavior. So, while we understand ... So, we also want to be able to understand that children's development is really important in connection to that social-emotional development because part of that is understanding the cultural part of that and its impacts, and you actually can build a very close relationship with the family by talking to them about their culture and their home language and their parenting skills and their values around parenting, and it tells you a great portion about children's behavior as well as developing that communication with families.
So, in our next section, I'm actually going to pass it off to Treshawn, and she's going to talk about some key information that home visitors can provide to families and how you can use some things as resources to support them in that first step, which is supporting understanding.
Treshawn Anderson: Thanks, Randi, for having me on today, and my name is Treshawn Anderson if you didn't get that before, and I am one of the cohosts of "Teacher Time," but I'm on here today with you guys doing the home-visiting segment. So, we're just going to talk a little bit about form and function, and those sound like big technical words, but they're not. So, every behavior can be described in two ways, and that is the form of the behavior, the form that the children use to display their behaviors and the function, or the purpose of that behavior. And so, there's a handout in the green resources widget called "Tips for Families: Form and Function," and this handout will help families understand form and function and give them some tips on what to look for in regards to their children's behavior in different ages. So, let's go ahead and dive right into the information. So, first when we think about form, form is really just the behavior that the child uses to communicate with someone, and the form can be expressed in lots of different ways, and as you can see, there's a list here of ways that children oftentimes exhibit their behavior.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but as you can see here, there's lots of many ways that young children communicate their wants and their needs, and of course, the form will change as children grow up or gain more social and emotional skills. So, for example, infants might cry mostly or coo as their form of getting their needs met and their wants met as well, while toddlers may begin to point to what they want instead. Whereas preschoolers, on the other hand they may be able to verbally express themselves or maybe they might take your hand and show you what they want instead, so these are going to change according to the children's levels of development and their age as well. And so, then when we think about the function, the function is really just the potential reason or the purpose of children's behaviors. So, the function is really the reason why a child cries or maybe a reason why a child is laughing and they're excited, so it's really the reason. So, if you think about replacing function with reason, then you kind of get a better grasp of it that way. So, for this, it's important to put yourself in the child's shoes to think about what they are trying to communicate, and one of the best things that I learned while doing some student teaching in the infant-toddler classroom was really to get down on the floor with infants and experience the environment and what it's like on your tummy and then again on your back, and take the time to notice all the things that could be bothering you while you're on your back or what might interest you as you're on your tummy.
And so, when you do this, it helps you think about the meaning behind children's behaviors because when an infant begins to cry when they're on their back or if they're reaching for an object on their tummy, you can say, "Well, I've already put myself in this situation. I have a good idea of what the child is trying to communicate." So, putting yourself in children's shoes really helps to figure out the form and function of behaviors. And so, this, of course, is a list of possible functions of behaviors, so these are messages that young children are trying to communicate to us or things that they might be trying to say. So, they might be trying to get a toy from a friend, or maybe they're trying to ask for help, or maybe they need a big hug. Right now, it's the middle of the day, and I could use a big hug right now, or maybe they're trying to engage with a friend at a socialization event. So, these are the functions of communication. So, Randi said before it's important to remember that form and function are definitely shaped by culture, and children learn to express themselves, their needs and their wants in culturally acceptable ways.
So, for example, in some cultures sharing and community is really valued, so it may be important that parents want their children to learn words or learn language that promote sharing, like, "Let's play together," rather than "I'm using it right now." So, it's really important to talk with families and to get an idea of acceptable behaviors that children can use to express themselves but in those culturally respectable ways. So, we're going to do a fun little activity now that you've learned a little bit more about form and function and the ways children communicate their behaviors. We're going to put our knowledge into practice. I always like doing things that's applicable. So, in the green resource widget, you'll see a handout that's called "Learning Activity: Form and Function." So, it says learning activity in the beginning, and then form and function. If you go ahead and open that up, we're going to start this activity on page one, and then we'll get to the second page a little later in our presentation today.
So, take some time to look at these pictures of Michael and his mom and his home visitor, Mariana, and they're doing a home visit together, and look at pictures one through four in that order, keeping in mind what we discussed about form and function. For each picture, I want you guys to take some time and write down what Michael might be telling us through his behaviors. So, I'm going to give you some time to reflect and jot down your ideas, and when we come back, we'll discuss with you what we thought, so let me give you a minute. You'll see an arrow going across your screen so you know how long we have. All right. I hope you had some time to reflect. I know I have some ideas about what I think Michael might be saying. So, looking at the second page of the handout now, there's a little story there, and we learned that Mom and Mariana are introducing these new linking toys to Michael, and he hasn't quite engaged with them before, so it's kind of new to him, and in the second picture, Michael is really working hard. You can see his face demonstrating, some concentration, trying to link the toys together, but he's unable to do so, which kind of makes him frustrated, so he drops everything on the floor in frustration, and in picture three, he's coverage his ears. His mom is trying to tell him, "Pick up your toys. You dropped them on the floor," and trying to get him to re-engage, but he's just not really wanting to hear that right now. Instead, in picture four, Michael begins to cry, maybe raises his arms to him and mom and indicates that "I just need a hug right now. That activity was pretty frustrating, and I could use a hug." So, does any of this information kind of change your reflections that you have? I know it changed mine a little bit, initially, from looking at these pictures, but if so, you're not alone because there's so many ways that we can interpret Michael's behaviors, right? Which kind of brings us to our next point, is that like the learning activity that we just did, you'll learn that it's not always easy to figure out the meaning of children's behaviors, and to add to the complexity of understanding children's behaviors, well, one form of behavior may serve multiple functions. So, like, a toddler may use the form of biting for lots of different reasons, such as, "I really want that toy you have," or "I want to play with you, but I don't know how to let you know," or, "I'm just really tired and kind of overstimulated."
So, yeah, that's one single form of behavior, but it's serving lots of functions. And then on the flip side, we have several forms of behavior that may only serve one function, so it's kind of flipping it around. So, for example, an infant might cry or rub their eyes or let out this really high-pitched squeal. Those are three forms of behaviors just to tell you that they're tired, so they can do all these things to let you know one thing. It really just depends on the day and how they're feeling or who's at home that day, or it could be based on cultural expectations, so it's important to note that one size does not fit all. It would be so easy to say, "If your child can't sleep at night, this means they've taken too long of a nap during the day, so just shorten the nap," and, wow, it'll work. Well, we all know that that doesn't always work, and I wish it were that easy, but there's so many reasons why children have a hard time falling asleep at night.
And sometimes it would be great to have the clear-cut guidance on what to expect when children express certain behaviors, kind of like an if-then book for children's behaviors, but the world would be a little boring if we just responded to everyone in the exact same way and got the same response each time, right? That's what makes us unique and different, is that we can express ourselves differently. But this is also really important for children, understanding the meanings behind their behaviors, because when we understand the possible meanings, it helps to build a supportive home-learning environment for children and when we accurately interpret children's behaviors, it really influences our interactions with them and helps us to build that relationship with children. And it helps us to intentionally plan or support families in their planning for routines and schedules or to support children's needs and promote their learning. So, if we know that Miguel likes to bring us books right after he eats breakfast, well, this may be a good time to engage in some learning experiences instead of trying to do it just before lunchtime when he's a little bit more cranky. So, when adults take the time to figure out the meaning of children's behaviors, it really helps the children feel valued and important and that someone is really going to take the time to understand what I'm feeling. And when adults figure out what that child is trying to communicate, well, the children begin to feel confident and competent as communicators, like, "Yes, they understand me!" And who doesn't like to be understood?
And then lastly, when adults figure out what children are trying to communicate, it really helps them themselves to learn to communicate in ways that make sense to them, so they figure out what works for them. They figure out if I point to the cereal, my mom knows that's cereal, so it really is beneficial in lots of different ways. But it also has some perks for adults, too, so it's not just for children, but figuring out the meaning of children's behaviors also has some perks for adults, so it really helps us to build that nurturing and responsive relationship with children.
Once we get to know them and we know their clues and their cues, then it really makes us feel confident, as home visitors and as parents to really get to know the children. And it also helps us pause to try to determine what the child's behavior is, communicating instead of just reacting, so we always hear the term be proactive instead of reactive. Well, trying to pause and think about what children are communicating is really promoting that proactive behavior instead of just reacting to what the children are doing. And it also helps us determine, what skills we may need to teach children to help them be more successful at communicating. So, we may learn that we want to give our toddlers the words for objects that they're pointing at instead of them just pointing, or maybe demonstrating to preschoolers how we join in a play group with other friends, instead of saying, "Go play! Go make friends." We might need to show them these things a little bit. So, I've done a lot of talking. Now we're going to observe form and function in real time with a video during a home visit, so as you watch, see if you can tell what the child is communicating with their behaviors. So, I'm going to go ahead and push that out to you guys now.
Mother: Do you want to read your book with Miss Barb before she goes bye-bye?
Barb: Is that busy, busy day? Busy, busy day for him. Yeah. Is this your blanket? Is that your backpack? Is that your blanket?
Mother: Hey, attitude, stop.
Barb: Do you want to sit with your blanket? Here. Here. Now we don't have to look at Kevin. Mother: Uh-oh! Where'd he go? Where's Kevin? Peekaboo!
Kevin: Don't see!
Mother: Don't see what? I'm going to get it. Kevin: No!
Mother: I'm going to get it! I'm going to get it. Get it. Get it. Get it. Get it. Oh, no! Where'd he go? It's a peekaboo baby! Uh-oh! Where'd he go? Uh-oh. We're going to hide him. Uh-oh. Bye- bye!
Kevin: Mom! Mom! Mom! Mother: What? What?
Kevin: I want my cup.
Mother: Your cup isn't in here. Do you want a drink of my water? Kevin: No!
Barb: What do you want?
Mother: You need to drink some water. Kevin: No!
Mother: OK, well, I don't know what to tell you. Kevin: My cup!
Mother: Your cup is – The sink is dirty. Please don't. Kevin: Why you wash it?
Barb: You could wash it, Mom.
Mother: You need water in your life. Yeah. You drink too much milk and too much juice! You need some water in your life, too! You silly little boy. Don't kick me! Please be nice. Come here. Let's do a drink of water. Come on. Please stand up.
Barb: What have you got in your eyes? What are you making that funny noise for, huh? Mother: Come on. Let's get a drink.
Barb: Are you mad?
Treshawn: There's so many things in this video that we could talk about, but I want to hear from you and see what you deserve – you observed. You deserve the world, but what did you observe? So, using the – I'm going to push out a pulse check to you, and so using the green thumb for yes and the red thumb for no, tell me if you observed some of these behaviors in the video. So, did you see the child search his backpack for his sippy cup, and did you see him turn away from the home visitor and from the parent when they engaged with him? And did you notice all the different ways that he tried to communicate that he just wanted his cup? He looked in his backpack. He cries for it. He says what he wants inside of it, and did you see the child push the parent away using his hands and feet? I know I did kind of towards the end of the video, and lots of you are seeing these things now, so that's wonderful. And so, what do you think ultimately that he was trying to communicate? I mean, it could be lots of different things.
Maybe he's trying to communicate that he wants something other than water in his sippy cup. Maybe he wants some milk this time, or maybe he's just done with the home visit. It's been a long day. Home visitor has been there for a while, and he just wants to get his blanket and relax, so there could be lots of reasons why, and you guys are really coming in with these polls. It looks like you've got most of the things that I've been seeing, so good.
So, this is really a great example of behaviors have meaning because it's really just important to take the time to understand the meaning of children's behavior, and in this video, the boy gives us lots of cues by walking up the couch and opening his backpack and asking for his cup. Mom continues to play hide-and-seek with the blanket and tries to tickle him a little bit, but this resulted in him crying and whining and kicking his feet, and so he's possibly communicating to Mom, "This is not what I want to do right now." So, it's important to pause and observe children's behaviors to help figure out the meaning and what needs – what steps need to be taken to respond to children appropriately. And so, there's a handout, another handout, in the green resources widget called "Pause, Ask, Respond," "Pause, Ask, Respond," and this handout gives parents strategies to help them pause and identify the possible meaning of their children's behaviors, so go ahead and take a look at that resource when you get a chance because, remember, when we pause and reflect instead of reacting, we are showing children that we are really caring about how they feel. When we react, we tend to focus on how we're feeling, like, "Oh, I'm exhausted, and I'm frustrated," and so we react in a way that's kind of exhausted and frustrated rather than how the child is feeling, and they can be feeling excited or sad, but if we're feeling exhausted then that's going to come out that way. So, pausing to try to figure out how to try to figure out the meaning behind a child's behavior instead of just reacting to the behavior can change the way we see the child, can change the way that we respond to children and also change the way that we teach children.
So, I encourage you to become a "behavior has meaning" detective and help parents do the same thing so that they're always on the lookout for the reasons why children behave a certain way. Now, it does take a little bit more time and effort to, take that time to pause and respond and reflect, to understand the intent of children's communications, but the payoff is definitely worth it because like we said before, children will start to feel valued and important and that they really matter, and then they'll also learn to communicate their intentions and feelings in very developmentally appropriate ways. So, I'm going to hand it back to Randi to give us some helpful strategies that support children's behaviors as well.
Randi: Well, thank you so much, Treshawn. I love everything that Treshawn was telling us about the form and the function, and it plays so much into how we help ... how the home-based programs really help to support parents be really introduced to this concept of looking at behavior, taking a moment to pause and really figure out what their child is trying to communicate with them rather than doing that kind of knee-jerk reaction that we can sometimes have with children, and the first part of this is really taking a look at ourselves.
Everyone has buttons that other people can push. Sometimes this is our spouses. Sometimes this is our parents. Sometimes other people know exactly what those buttons are, and we push them, but we also have kind of sometimes that reaction when we think about children, too, that, "That 2-year-old, he's out to get me." That's really not the case. But we really want to take a look at how our own influences and how we think of things really drive a very specific response from us. So, we want to take a moment, just kind of reflect on yourself for a second of what are some things that really just bother you, like, push your buttons? And when you identify them, you're able to make a clear difference in the way that you respond, and then that helps you to then model not only your own aspects for how you engage with families but then also how you're able to then have that family engage with their children.
So, we're going to actually put up a poll, and I want you to respond. I've listed some very specific, very common things up here. Sorry ... [Sneeze] Sorry about that ... Some common behaviors, and I want you to select up to three of them that really just ... they just push your buttons. So, that could be crying, kicking, gazing away from you ... sometimes children aren't looking at you ... biting, tantrums, pulling away or pulling on an adult, being messy, choosing not to clean up, not following directions, yelling, lying, grabbing things, or there's just another category because sometimes it's just anything else under the Sun that happens to be in that. So, I'm going to give you just a little bit to be able to select that. Select up to three because this could definitely be a "I select all" kind of thing, but we want to see kind of where that fits in with you. All right. So, I'm going to see that there's a good number of people that have responded, so I'm going to push out the results to the audience. You can take a look at how people have responded. We see that there's quite a bit of people who are talking about the biting, the tantruming, and then we also have another thing, yelling.
So, remember when we go back to that form and function. Remember that those kind of things... all of those things are a form of communication. They are trying to tell you something with those actions. So, we want to make sure that even though those actions may bother us, we really want to pay very close attention to what the function ... what is that trying ... So, this is where we go in. So, you definitely want to take a look at that handout, that "Pause, Ask, Respond" handout because this is a key strategy. So, no matter what a child is doing, this is a strategy that you can use. You want to pause. So, before you respond or react, you really want to take a look. What is the child doing, and then to think about what might be the reason behind that? You want to ask yourself. Use those detective skills that Treshawn mentioned to ask yourself, "What is that child trying to tell me?" so you're able to then respond effectively, and then when you get to the response, you're figuring out that meaning so that you can respond in the right way, and we have some examples. For children who are, say, learning to climb, they might be pulling up on a fish tank that you have in your living room, but they may ... What is that action telling you? That action, if you pause and watch them, and then you ask yourself, "What are they trying to do?" And then you respond, "OK. Maybe they're trying to look at some fish, but pulling in that way may not be safe for them. OK. So, maybe we should sit together and take a look at the fish. This also goes into, if you're sitting in a high chair and constantly that spoon is hitting the floor, and you keep picking up it up and putting it back on there. Pause. OK. What is the child trying to tell me? Are they done with their food? Are they trying to tell me that they really don't like that spoon? Are they laughing when I pick it back up again? All of those things tell us ... show us a picture and how we respond is going to tell that child whether or not they are an effective communicator. So, we're going to push forward with some supportive practices. This is going to give us a clear picture about what's happening, and you'll see that some of them are grayed out, and some of them are highlighted, so we're going to focus on those that are highlighted, those identifying teachable moments and building positive relationships by making deposits. So, those teachable moments really are discovering and exploring the most effective teachable moments for children and being able to not necessarily only focus on 9 a.m. is the most teachable moment of the day but really the teachable moment within the action that's happening. Where can you embed some learning throughout any part of the day? Also that positive relationship, think of the way that you like to communicate with people. If somebody is constantly telling you that "No, you didn't do it right. No, don't do it that way. Don't do it this way," you don't feel as good about yourself, and you may not have a positive relationship with that person. So, think about the way that we encourage parents to talk to families and encourage those families to talk to children.
So, we talk about these making deposits, and these are little, little pieces of encouragement throughout the day, and we more we encourage children, then we have those deposits, and they feel confident. They feel good about themselves. And when you're able to correct the behavior, you're using that teachable moment, then we're able to then ... It's not necessarily as impactful. We want to say it's still impactful, but it's not as detrimental as it can be with just the constant beratement, so we definitely want to encourage those things. One part of teachable moments is to use the ELOF@Home app. This is something that anybody can download. If you've got Apple, if you've got Android, no matter what, you can use this. It goes through and shows key parts of the ELOF, and it also has activities. It has stories, and even has, like, a little quiz, too, to test your knowledge, and it's a great source of information that you can share with families and that families can use now with their children. And I'm going to push us towards these great resources, the 15-minute In-service Suite. So, I'm going to allow Treshawn some time to talk about these because she's going to talk about one amazing In-service Suite that she was the main pilot and author of – and it's awesome – so I'm going to hand I guest over Treshawn.
Treshawn: Thanks, Randi. I appreciate the accolades, really helpful, but yes, on the ECLKC, there are a host of these 15-minute In-service Suites, and so all of these suites that we have listed here, and there a ton more, but these support behaviors and building relationships with children, and so the ones here are going to be the ones that are most relevant for this webinar, but they're really good resources to share with families as well as to incorporate in socialization environments or to support parents as their child's first teacher, and so within these 15-minute In-service Suites are tons of handouts. There's training materials if you are a supervisor or a coach and want to do some training with your staff, but there's tips for families. There's tips for home visitors. There's tips for education staff. There's tips for everyone that could possibly be involved in these, but these are some of the ones that we've highlighted here that would be most relevant, such as stating behavioral expectations and redirecting behavior, problem- solving in the morning, and then some of our later ones, like fostering connections with children and really being aware of children's needs, but like Randi was saying, there's one in particular that is really relevant to the webinar today, and that In-service Suite is the Behavior Has Meaning 15-minute In-service Suite, and so it gives more information on this topic and supports education staff, home visitors and families in understanding the meanings of children's behaviors, and so I just want to show you how to get there on the ECLKC if you don't mind. Give me a second, and I'll share my screen with you.
So, if you go on to the ECLKC main web page and you type in 15-minute ... You can just type in 15, and you'll see the drop-down for 15-minute In-service Suites, and you scroll down, there's a whole ... there's different pods of different types of In-service Suites that we have, and so the Behavior Has Meaning is going to be this one down in this pod, the implementing research- based curriculum and teaching practices. So, once you click on that, you will see the most current In-service Suites that we've developed related to lots of different topics, but if you go right there to the top, you'll see the Behavior Has Meaning In-service Suite there. So, once you click on that, you will have access to a little preview video to kind of get you engaged and tell you a little bit more about this suite, and as you scroll down, you'll see all the different supporting materials that we have, so we've got presentation PowerPoint slides. There's optional slides, and there's also slides specifically for home visitors. So, if you're doing a training and most of your audience is going to be home visitors, then you'll want to take some of these presenter notes for home visitors to adapt the main slides to be more relevant to the audience that you're presenting to. Then if you click on this other tab here, supporting materials, you'll see all the handouts that are involved in this In-service Suite, and so we have a little ... We have some of them listed here in the green resources widget on this webinar, but just so you see that there's tips for education staff. There's tips for home visitors, like the form and function one that we did, and there's some tips for families, like the "Pause, Ask and Respond" handout that we showed you, and then there's some learning activities for home visitors there as well.
Then, if you just want some other additional resources, more websites or different readings and articles, you can go into the helpful resources, and then lastly, if you're a supervisor or a trainer or a coach of some sort, there's some handouts for you to work with your staff, reflection and feedback and learning how to observe and reflect what you've observed on, and so we've also added some things in that kind of explain how behaviors is related to the ELOF, and then how the behaviors are also mentioned in the Head Start performance standards. So, that is ... That's going to be ... I'll stop sharing my screen there. Hopefully, you make it to the ECLKC so that you can see this awesome resource because I think it'll be very helpful and very beneficial for everyone. So, another ... So, moving on to another set of supportive practices here, one is really just using visual cues to help promote children's development and competence in dealing with difficult situations. So, having visual cues really acts as a tool to support parents as they're helping children communicate their wants and needs, and these visual tools can be really useful at home, especially when children need reminders about the routine, like, "We wash our hands after we use the bathroom," or "We're going to brush our teeth and wash our face before bed," so having those visuals out for children to see can really help alleviate some of the power struggle that we all know to be true during bedtime. I don't know what it is about bedtime, but that's just when it happens, but reminding children, "Point to the visual," or, "Go to your wall chart and see what comes next" really gives them that responsibility for actions and their behaviors and really helps alleviate that power struggle that you can try to avoid.
Another supportive practice is really just teaching children how to recognize and express their emotions. Another word for this is emotional literacy, and this is where we teach children to identify their emotions, both in themselves and in others, and so as much as we like to think we didn't all come out knowing words for how we feel. Someone helped us figure out, when we were frustrated or when we were excited and when we were sad. Even as adults, it's hard to figure out how we feel sometimes, so we should be making a point to do this with parents, having them to identify, helping them support children by identifying their behaviors and understanding the words for how children are feeling, and so for example, if you have a child playing with blocks and she crosses her arms because they keep falling, you might say, "You're really frustrated right now that your tower keeps falling down," or you might say to an infant, "I understand you're really hungry. Your bottle is warming up pretty soon." So, really, talking to children through their emotions helps them know and understand the words for how they're feeling, and then this better helps them to express themselves later on.
And then one other supportive practice that we can do is really helping children develop friendship skills. We don't think about this all the time. We just think, "Hey, go play," and children will magically just play with each other nice and harmonious, but this is something that is learned and something that we can teach parents to support children that way, and so this is going to be from our preschool age children, of course, but you can start it early. But when children are successful at making friends, then that gives them the opportunity to really learn and practice their social skills and cooperation and sharing and turn taking and even problem solving and conflict resolution too. And so, when we think about feelings, there's some key concepts that home visitors can use to share with parents about children's feelings, like feelings do change, and it's OK if your feelings change sometimes. You can have more than one feeling about something, and you ... The way you feel about something can also be different than the way the next person may feel about it, and then lastly, all feelings are valid, so we have to remember that children are just little people, and they feel these really big emotions, so really working with them and helping them figure out their feelings and saying that it's OK that it's changed and it's OK that it's different than your brother or sister is OK, so talking through their feelings is going to be another supportive practice that we want to support parents with, and then also naming feelings. Building language, one in itself, can be a very a very emotionally supportive practice. Like, have you ever been frustrated going on in life, and you read a quote or a meme or something, and you're like, "Oh, yes, that's it! That's what's I'm feeling. Oh, there's a name for it"? That can be really helpful in giving you a sense of control over the situation and maybe even a better understanding of the situation itself, like emotional eating. It feels empowering to know that, one, that is a term, and, two, that I'm not alone, and that I'm not only one person who dives into the bag of chips when I'm bored, so putting a label on my feelings just really helps me feel more in control and helps me understand the situation, and likewise, children are empowered by language too, and so one strategy we can do with children throughout the day is really naming our feelings, and using visuals like you see here, can be used during home visits. It could be used throughout the day. It could be used at socializations to really support parents in helping their children identify their emotions. Charts like these can really help to build language so children feel more confident in naming how they feel, and you can use the pictures. You can ask children, "How are you feeling today?" and maybe prompt them by saying, "Are you sad? Are you scared?" Or maybe you just ask them to point to the picture that shows them how they're feeling, and then use the pictures as you ask the question, and these naming feelings visuals can be found at headstartinclusion.org. That's the Head Start Center for Inclusion, and then it's also talked about on the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations and that's challengingbehaviors.org. So, I'm going to hand it over to Randi to continue on our list of supportive practices there.
Randi: All right. Well, thank you, Treshawn, and we are definitely getting down to our last five minutes, so we are going to push through these last two supportive practices, which we've got on here, which is about teaching problem-solving steps as well as teaching anger management, and these are big parts because we want to take a look at children and even adults, we need to learn how to solve problems and those steps that it takes to do that. And we also need to look at ... It kind of goes back to that "Pause, Ask and Respond" thing and knowing that when we get angry and we get stressed out, the first thing to go is to stop listening. That seems to be the first step when that happens, and so home visitors really can support parents to model problem solving steps in different situations as well as discuss things that are happening, especially now, some children may be confused as to why do we stay indoors, like, "Why are we home all the time?" and so we need to be able to talk to them and say, "OK. Let's problem solve about ... OK. What are the steps to washing our hands? What are the steps to keeping germs contained?" things like that, as well as "How do I feel about that?" and " Is it OK to feel that way about that?" When it comes to anger management, we also, as home visitors, need to help families to be able to kind of reflect on how they deal with their own anger and how they deal with their own stress. How do they show that to children and being able to take things like the puffer fish, the breath that's there when we need to.
So, when talk about teaching anger management, we also want to reflect on how do parents demonstrate their own anger. So, are you stomping around the house? Are you yelling? Are you screaming at the top of your lungs? And then also are those the same behaviors you're seeing with your children? Are they the same behaviors? So, really, are they copying what they're seeing, or is this a form that's really trying to tell us something else? So, we want to make sure that we provide some of that language, as well as teaching and providing some strategies about helping to breathe and slow down and calm down, which we had that one video at the very beginning which you have, and then we're also going to show you this one other video, and this is a teacher who is talking about calming your breath and being mindful with her class, which is something great to use across socializations, as well as share virtually with some of your families.
Teacher: One more time. Breathe in through your nose. [Breathing in] Fill up your lungs. Look up and blow it out slowly. All right. Good job. Keep your legs crossed. Stretch way up to the ceiling. Let's make two big circles. Slow. All these activities is to slow down our neurons, slow down our brains. Stop at the top and go all the way to the right, Somaya. Thank you for listening to me. OK. There you go. OK. Now we're going to zigzag it. To the right. To the left.
Slow. Slow like a caracol, like a little tiny snail that goes very slow. We want to slow down our neurons. Good job. OK. Take them to your temples and abre la boca. Right here, across our temples, right here, and open up your jaw bones. Ah. Good job. Cross your arms on your shoulders and massage. Five. Four.
Randi: All right. So, what we're going to do is we are going to put this all together for you so we can get this wrapped up in our last, like, two minutes here. Let's just summarize today what we discussed. We discussed the ways that children use their behavior to communicate with us. We saw this through the form and the function. The form being the behavior that the child is using to communicate. The function being the purpose of what that child was trying to communicate with us. We saw that through some of the videos, the child at the home visit, and even in the calming video, you can see how that teacher was using vocabulary words that she had introduced to those children, connecting words to actions where she had told them a direction and then put that child's hand to their temple when they needed to understand what that meant again, and think about how you could use ... pair those two together when you're talking to parents about what they should do to reinforce with their children and talk to their children and talk about modeling the way. All right.
So, we want to know that before we leave that you have these options available for you to stay connected and expand your learning. For those of you who are new to our webinars, we have a MyPeers platform, which is a collaborative platform. We have our own home visiting community where we share great ideas and strategies, but I also wanted you to know that the Teacher Time community is equally as wonderful because Treshawn is there and Jan is there.
So, you didn't get to see Jan, but I'm sure she answered a ton of your questions today, and so even though they may not be "home visits," it's a teacher-centered community. It's really important because some of their strategies will be super helpful as we're modeling parents being facilitators of children's learning. The iPD, I'm so excited to be able to announce that the beginning home visitor series is active and live, and so any of you can go in and earn credit by going through the three modules ... or, sorry, three, there are 10. I don't know what I'm talking about right now. There are absolutely 10. There are three different beginning home visitor series, teacher for preschool, teacher for infant toddler and home visitor, and obviously our Text 4 Home Visitors that you can engage with as well. Thank you so much for being a part of our webinar today. There is some key information about COVID-19 response, prevention. You have this link, so please go in and see some key information about that, and I want to close out today by saying thank you so much to everybody who participated, along with my co-presenter, Treshawn, Judi, and Jan for being able to answer all of your questions. We hope you have a great day.Close
Children communicate through their behaviors before they can express their feelings verbally. Explore how infants, toddlers, and preschoolers use behavior to tell us their needs, intentions, and emotions, and how adults can effectively respond. Discover strategies and resources home visitors can use to support parents to understand children’s behavior while supporting their learning in the home.
Note: The evaluation, certificate, and engagement tools mentioned in the video were for the participants of the live webinar and are no longer available. For information about webinars that will be broadcast live soon, visit Upcoming Events.