Collaboration is the key to combating behaviour issues, study finds
The Sector > Research > Collaboration is the key when it comes to a culture of supporting children’s behaviour

Collaboration is the key when it comes to a culture of supporting children’s behaviour

by Freya Lucas

May 23, 2023

Collaboration is key to creating a culture that supports children’s behaviour in early childhood education, research from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä has found. 


Rather than a traditional approach of focusing on changing a child’s behaviour, researchers suggest that influencing the behaviour of the adults who interact with the child would be more effective. 


They reached their findings through an 18-month follow-up of 18 Finnish early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres that were piloting positive behaviour intervention and support (PBIS), which takes a research-based approach to creating an operational culture that supports the behaviour of all children. 


The PBIS approach sought to clarify the situation-specific behavioural expectations of the ECEC centres and provided training and coaching on how to comply with them. Children’s appropriate social behaviour was acknowledged as systematically as possible through positive feedback, and efforts were made to pay less attention to possible failures.


One ECEC centre, for example, managed to make its corridors less noisy and crowded by teaching children about personal space when moving in the corridors. Professionals working in the ECEC centre, on the other hand, were committed to acknowledging children’s success in considering personal space, and they gave plenty of individual and positive feedback whenever children moved about in the corridors in an orderly manner.


Change takes time


“In order to support children in their behavioural challenges in the right way, the entire environment of ECEC, and the ECEC community, must commit to the change of pedagogical practices and understand its significance,” said Senior Researcher Noora Heiskanen of the University of Eastern Finland. 


The theoretical implementation of the new approach and its integration into the existing practices of ECEC centres require time, collaboration, and competence, she added.


“It is not always easy for ECEC professionals to accept change, and enough time should be given to the adoption of the new approach. The ECEC centres piloting the PBIS approach succeeded in creating a uniform way of teaching social behaviour to children, specifically through the participation of the whole community, as well as through research-based, guided development.”


The findings of the research, Lecturer Anne Karhu of the University of Eastern Finland added, give good tools for a wider development of practices in ECEC.


“Review and development of the common practices plays a key role. The PBIS approach can be used to build an ECEC community that is welcoming to all children and that has research-based means to address possible challenges in children’s behaviour.” 


Behavioural support, she added, should be integrated into all activities. In addition, social behaviour should be taught in a preventive manner, while also ensuring enhanced support for those who need it.


“The PBIS approach also provides a good basis for providing more advanced and more intensive behavioural support for children who need it,” she said.


Access ‘Implementing positive behaviour intervention and support in Finnish early childhood education and care: leadership team’s perspective’, published in the European Journal of Special Needs Education, using the links provided. 

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