Every parent hopes their child will grow into a strong, happy, confident individual with a positive relationship with their community and broader society. As parents, it’s our job to help guide children’s behaviour and help them understand how to behave and get along with others. The best way to do this is to consistently introduce children to new experiences and challenges.
But how can we make sure our children are exposed to these challenges in a safe and encouraging environment? How can we give them the best possible headstart?
Enrolling your child in a high-quality childcare service is a wonderful way to introduce them to other children and encourage growth in a supportive environment.
This article will detail why children need behavioural guidance and how childcare centres can serve this need, helping you make an informed choice when enrolling your child in a daycare service.
Why children need behavioural guidance
When young children begin interacting with others and the world around them, they have little to no understanding of how to behave. It’s our role as adults to guide children and help them learn to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted members of society.
For example, in their earliest months of life, children will naturally seek attention or express their feelings through tears. However, as children enter preschool and kindergarten, they can learn more appropriate ways to manage and show emotions, like asking for help or a hug.
Parents are typically the first people young children turn to for behavioural guidance. As such, they provide the foundational behavioural skills children need to get by, from using manners to making friendships.
Educators also play a central role in guiding children’s early behavioural development, especially in school or daycare. Among other lessons, teachers can
Why childcare plays a key role in early development
Childcare services play a critical role in every child’s early development. The childcare centre you choose can make an enormous difference to your child’s progress and preparation for school.
Interacting with people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life is critical for every child’s early social development. In daily life, many preschool-aged children spend most of their time with close family and friends, which can limit their exposure.
Enrolling your child in childcare is a fantastic way to introduce them to new faces, especially from different family structures and cultures. Socialising and working together with other children will strengthen critical skills in your child, including empathy, respect, and confidence.
To aid this development, many childcare centres create a welcoming, warm atmosphere where children feel safe to express themselves and interact with others. Educators will also encourage group activities where children play, dance, sing, and tell stories together, strengthening their bond.
Many modern childcare centres take a holistic approach to education, which focuses on the ‘whole child’. In other words, their service isn’t just about academic achievement but emotional and social growth, too.
A good childcare practice can support emotional development by recognising each child as an individual and focusing on their unique needs. This way, educators can tailor their curriculum and activities to support your child in the best possible way.
Educators will also promote positive emotional development by:
- Encouraging group work and turn-taking,
- Building relationships with families,
- Providing a sense of safety and security,
- Talking to children about how they feel,
- Describing and labelling emotions as they happen,
- Being warm, welcoming and responsive with the children,
- Telling stories and singing songs about emotions,
- Giving children agency to make choices (i.e. do you want to play with the blocks or read a book?)
Many childcare services have a large courtyard and play areas where your child can run, jump, explore, and spend time playing outdoors with friends. These centres can also often provide equipment and toys your child won’t have access to at home, like playgrounds, sporting equipment, and obstacle courses.
Centres focusing on physical health will offer daily playtime indoors and out, where children can build fine and gross motor skills by controlling their movements and reflexes. Some services also make physical activity extra fun with organised sports and games!
One of the most powerful ways to develop a child’s cognitive abilities is through play. That’s why many childcare centres follow play-based and hands-on educational philosophies, like the Montessori and Steiner methods.
When a child plays, their brain makes connections. And when they keep playing, these connections get stronger!
Consistency is key. That’s why childcare centres are so great for this purpose—they give your child a chance to play in all sorts of ways each day, continually strengthening those cognitive bonds.
When playing, children will often watch how their friends play, too. This kind of group play can aid their cognitive development while boosting their social skills, imagination, and creativity.
How childcare services can guide positive behaviour in children
Childcare services have opportunities to guide a child’s behaviour each day.
Here are a few ways educators can model good behaviour and help children tackle challenging situations.
Promoting prosocial behaviour
Childcare centres have a unique opportunity to encourage children to help, share, and comfort others. These kind and considerate actions are known as prosocial behaviour.
Prosocial behaviour can help children make friends, make stronger bonds with their peers, and become valued community members.
Childcare services can promote these behaviours by modelling positive actions and noticing when children independently help or share with a friend. Many educators will also read books and tell stories about healthy relationships and friendships.
Many children struggle with the transition from home to childcare, but it doesn’t have to stay this way. When educators work together with families, they can make the transition as smooth as possible, making children feel more confident and less fearful of situations in the future.
Many educators are highly trained in building children’s confidence in safe ways. They’ll take steps to nurture your child’s potential, encouraging independence and risky play while praising every success.
Assessment and observation
Educators working in child care centres will record and reflect on what children can say, write, draw, and do, helping them learn about each child as an individual and recognising their unique strengths. It’s also a great way for child care services to communicate important milestones to families.
These assessments can highlight areas where a child might need extra support and behavioural guidance, strengthening learning outcomes and helping them become the best version of themselves.
Curriculum and the Early Years Learning Framework
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) provides clear guidelines for early childhood services to follow, ensuring every child receives high-quality education and support during this crucial time in their lives.
Following a research-based curriculum supported by the EYLF allows child care centres to achieve the best possible outcomes for each child. Following the framework, educators work hard to help children define their identities, recognise their strengths, and become active members of society.
Collaboration with parents
When parents and educators work together, great things happen.
Parents are a child’s first and primary educator. They understand them best. By discussing your child’s needs, interests, and abilities with their educator—along with any goals you’re working towards at home—you can support their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development whether they’re at home or in care.
Look out for childcare centres that encourage two-way communication and family engagement.
Educators act as positive role models
Learning never stops. Children need quality role models to ensure the knowledge they absorb from the world around them is positive.
Early childhood educators have extensive experience and qualifications in being positive role models for children. Educators can be the role models children need during their critical early years by sharing joy in their work, advocating for good morals and ethics, and demonstrating kindness.
How you can guide positive behaviour at home
While your child’s educators guide children’s behaviour in childcare, you can ‘power up’ their work by following the same methods at home.
Here are some simple strategies for guiding your child’s own behaviour each day.
Many young children will demonstrate positive behaviour independently, usually because they’ve learned it from a role model or friend. When it happens, encourage it!
The best way to encourage good behaviour is through affection, attention, and rewards. Your reward doesn’t need to be something big, like a new toy or a chocolate cookie! A hug, kiss, and kind, supportive words are usually enough!
Model appropriate behaviour
Children learn by observing other people—and as a parent, you’re the first person your child will look to for guidance. The old ‘monkey see, monkey do’ isn’t just a saying!
If you set a rule for your child’s behaviour, it’s good to follow it yourself. Model positive life skills like cleaning up, making healthy meals, and maintaining happy relationships. You’ll see the positive effects on your child.
Communicate and listen actively
Communicating with your child and listening actively to their needs helps you understand when they need help and support. When you listen to your child and understand what they’re asking for, you can solve an issue before it escalates into a big problem (or tantrum!).
Here are some tips for communicating effectively with your child:
- When talking, face your child and speak clearly.
- Use gestures and body language to help communicate what you mean.
- Ask questions and talk about your daily activities.
- Ask your child to express their feelings.
- Avoid giving negative attention.
- Keep full and engaged attention as your child speaks.
Find childcare services in your area
Childcare plays a central role in your child’s early positive development—so you’ll want to make sure you’re making the right choice when enrolling your child. Space’s online childcare database can help you find the perfect match for your family. Why not start searching today?