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Challenging Behavior: Step By Step Sifting — Part 1

by Roslyn Duffy
November/December 2009
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/challenging-behavior-step-by-step-sifting--part-1/5019004/

– Situation –

Elena is sitting at the side of the room kicking at a nearby chair and making popping noises with her mouth. The rest of the children are at story circle, but Elena was sent to the time-out chair for being disruptive. It is difficult to ignore her continued noises.

What causes challenging behavior and what can we do about it? That is a basic question parents and care-givers face everyday. Some needs are easy to meet, others take more work, and some require outside help.

— Solution —

(This is the first of a multi-part series about dealing with Challenging Behavior, both at home and school.)


It helps to have a systematic response when dealing with challenging ­behaviors. Imagine that we have a pile of earth composed of sand and rocks, and maybe a few boulders. By using different screens we can sift through this pile. First, we'll use a fine mesh screen to remove the sand. In behavioral terms, sand represents the most common needs, such as hunger or tiredness. These are basic 'conditions' that affect behavior, so we'll call this 'Conditional' sifting.

What's left behind after we've sifted out the sand? Our second screen needs larger holes to allow larger rocks through, ...

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