Building Environments That Encourage Positive Behavior

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From learning activities to transitions, children’s challenging behavior can influence every aspect of a classroom. This disruption often can overwhelm early childhood teachers, who report feeling concerned and frustrated about classroom management (Hemmeter, Ostrosky, & Corso 2012) as well as underprepared to address challenging behavior proactively (Stormont, Lewis, & Covington Smith 2005). These concerns are justified for several reasons. Children who frequently exhibit challenging behavior may have fewer friends or lower academic performance, and research links the persistent challenging behavior of young children to more serious behavior problems and negative consequences as they get older (Dunlap et al. 2006; McCartney et al. 2010). Young children who demonstrate difficult behavior are more likely to face persistent peer rejection and negative family interactions (Patterson & Fleischman 1979; Crick et al. 2006) and to be disciplined by school professionals (Strain et al. 1983). As high school students, these children are more likely to experience school failure and drop out (Kazdin 1993; Tremblay 2000) as well as encounter the juvenile justice system (Reid 1993; Dishion & Patterson 2006). But just as behavior can affect all aspects of a learning environment, all the aspects of a learning environment can be structured to promote positive behavior.

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