Handling hard-to-manage behaviours in preschool provision: a systems approach

Hugh Foot, Lisa Woolfson, Melody Terras, Claire Norfolk

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The perceptions and experiences of hard-to-manage behaviours were explored among 32 staff working in a variety of local authority and private nurseries and playgroups. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to ascertain what behaviours in children staff find most challenging, how they were managed and concerns communicated to parents. Results showed that aggression, inability to share and refusal were perceived as the most prevalent and worrying. Exclusion, explanation and distraction were the most frequently used strategies for handling such behaviours. Staff who were prepared to raise with parents their concerns about problematic behaviours that endangered the child's safety were out-of-character or persistent. A systems approach, based upon the ecological congruence model, was adopted to explain the links between staff perceptions and their tolerance for discrepancies from social norms. Staff-parent communication effectiveness was interpreted in terms of the home-pre-school relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-138
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2004


  • child psychology
  • child behaviour
  • children
  • educational psychology

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