Changing Colors: The Blog of Spectrum Pediatrics

February 2, 2017

Disruptive Behaviors and Your Preschooler – A New Strategy is Revealed!

By: Tracy Magee, MS, CCC-SLP

My alma mater, The University of Virginia, just revealed new information about children and disruptive behaviors. Researchers were able to pinpoint a strategy that helps to lower disruptive behaviors in preschool students. You can read about the study here, but I will provide you some bullet points to summarize what is covered in the article.

Some background info:

  • The basis of this study was built on the knowledge that children who exhibit disruptive behaviors (such as being impulsive, oppositional, and/or aggressive) are more at risk for short and long term negative effects.
  • Kids that exhibit these beginning disruptive behaviors are most likely to have interactions with teachers (and adults) that are full of conflict. (E.g. “Sally, no, don’t do that. Jose, don’t throw that! Xavier, stop it!”)

The study:

  • The study’s main author, Amanda Willford, stated that “building a strong and supportive connection with a young child, where teachers get to know and accept the child for who they are, is important for the children’s early success in school, especially for children who sometimes act out in the classroom.”
  • The researchers created three groups to test this theory.

a. “Banking Time” group – Teachers were instructed to let the child lead the play (10-15 minutes while one-on-one).

b. “Child Time” group – Teachers were encouraged to spend time with a child but they were not given specific instructions about how to interact (10-15 minutes while one-on-one).

c. “Control” group – Teachers interacted with the child with no changes.

  • The study revealed that the “Banking Time” group had the most positive outcomes. It is interesting to note that the researchers encouraged these teachers to even refrain from positive praise, asking questions, or teaching skills when playing together.

I feel that this study can greatly help us all as we interact with our children, even if we are not preschool teachers. It exhibits the importance of just playing with your child and refraining from our adult-driven agenda through questions and praise. These researchers have proven that our kids just want us to spend time with them and let us get to know their true personality. So, what are you waiting for…go play!

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