Parents, teachers and professionals, involved in early intervention services with young children, are in need of a consistent philosophy and technique of child management. The following list is a brief overview of essential principles.

1.Only describe behaviors as non-acceptable

  • Describe only the behaviors of children as unacceptable, when they are out of line
  • Avoid engaging in name calling, belittling, or other disparaging remarks about children
  • When upset with children’s behaviors convey to them, although they are accepted and loved unconditionally, that their current behaviors are unacceptable
  • Point out what are the possible negative consequences if the children choose to continue these behaviors
  • Practice patience, when addressing unwanted behavior
  • Maintain a cool head, relaxed emotions, and a rational perspective when addressing unwanted behaviors.
  1. Listen to behaviors
  • Listen to the behaviors of children and not just to what they verbally tell you
  • Monitor behaviors, activities, and actions of children for the messages contained in them
  • Recognize that often there is a goal behind children behaving or acting in certain ways
  • Decipher the hidden messages because the children may be lacking the communications skills to be clear on what they want or need
  • Recognize that children often learn early that they can placate and manipulate others by telling them exactly what they want to hear from them
  • Remember that if children feel ignored, unattended, and not listened to they might act out negatively in order to gain other’s attention, even if this attention is negative. They intuitively sense that some attention, even negative, is better than no attention at all
  • Spend a great deal of time reviewing the behaviors of children in order to derive the hidden messages within them.
  1. Redirect unwanted behaviors
  • Redirect children from unwanted behaviors by giving them a new option to pursue
  • Distract children from not doing the unwanted behavior by presenting obstacles or problems which need to be solved which take priority over the unwanted behaviors
  • Do not call attention to the negative behavior but rather give children cues and prompts which capture their attention and new direction
  • Shape the behaviors of children by lovingly giving them a new set of alternatives to pursue rather than the unwanted behaviors
  • Create obstacle to the pursuing of the unwanted behaviors so that the child is on to new wanted behaviors
  • Give an explanation of the redirection to children so that they can understand why what they were doing was unwanted or and how the new behavior is more desired.
  1. Catch the GOOD!
  • Be consistent in positively reinforcing children’s strengths, abilities, skills, talents, competencies and accomplishments
  • Make a concerted effort to point out and compliment children when they are doing acceptable behaviors and accomplishing positive results
  • Remember: Success breeds success! If positive attention is paid to positive behaviors, children learn that there is no need to act up or misbehave in order to get negative attention
  • Remember when children’s skills, abilities, talents, competencies and strengths are pointed out to them, it gives them external validation of what is real about them
  • Catch the good in children and celebrate it with them.
  • Avoid only paying attention to the bad behaviors of children
  1. Ignore the negative
  • Ignore the negative behaviors of children so that they are not being reinforced to continue them
  • Recognize that by attending to negative behaviors in children there is a good probability that such attention is negatively reinforcing the behaviors to continue
  • Assist the extinguishing of the negative behaviors by withdrawing from commenting, noting, or calling attention to them
  • Recognize that toughening it out by ignoring the negative, uncomfortable, and irritating behaviors in children is actually a pathway to assisting them to become problem solvers who must consider the negative consequences of behaviors which do not get any attention (be it positive or negative).
  1. Use natural and logical consequences
  • Assist children to recognize what outcomes will naturally occur for behaviors they choose. Once they know what the natural consequences are, then you allow them to make their decision to do or not do the targeted behaviors. If they do the behaviors, then allow the children to experience the natural consequences. They will learn from these experiences the wisdom or lack of wisdom of such choices in the future
  • Do not allow children to experience a natural consequence, which could be dangerous, life threatening, or inappropriate
  • Point out a logical or adult decided alternative consequence for the target behavior. The children are then free to choose the target behavior, If they proceed with it, they are then given the logical consequence which had been pointed out earlier
  • Reinforce limits set for children by use of natural and logical consequences. Once limits are set and the consequences are defined for breaching these limits, the children are free to make their own behavioral choices
  • Avoid using the terms which would imply that positive natural or logical consequences are rewards for good behaviors
  • Also avoid the terms that would imply that negative natural or logical consequences are punishments for negative or bad behaviors
  • Use of natural and logical consequences in a healthy way to free you from becoming a behavioral and disciplinarian watch dog over children
  • Engage in ongoing dialogue and problem solving with children as to what the consequences are to be if certain behaviors, actions, or activities are chosen.
  1. Be consistent!
  • Be consistent in your approach to children
  • Provide children with a sense of order, predictability and rationality by being consistent with them
  • Help children develop feelings of security, safety, stability and survivability in their lives by being consistent with them in all spheres of their lives
  • Be consistent in use of logical and natural consequences
  • Keep the rules, limits, and guidelines for children, at home, school and in the community, stable, easy to remember and simply stated
  • Write up all rules and guidelines, common to home, school and the community, to insure their compliance, use a notebook to keep a historical record to review with your children
  • Use contracts with older children as written documents to insure a mutual understanding as to how the rules will be consistently enforced
  • Work hard at reminding yourself of these principles of child management and keep them posted to assist your quick recall.
  1. Be assertive!
  • Be assertive with children, to let them know how you feel when you experience your rights being violated by their behaviors, actions, or activities
  • Let children know that it is their choice to act in this manner, but it is your choice to feel the way you feel if the children=s behaviors violate your rights
  • Do not use coercion, intimidation, or threats to let children know what you are requesting
  • Do not be passive by allowing children to violate your rights by their behaviors without speaking up to let them know how you feel. Chronic passivity encourages children to develop a lack of empathy and concern for the rights, feelings, and sensitivity of others
  • Do not be aggressive by use coercion, threats, and intimidation to get children to change their behaviors which violate your rights
  • Do not use aggressive behaviors include: lecturing; demanding; belittling; name calling; blaming; ordering; commanding; directing; preaching; threatening; criticizing; and ridiculing
  • Avoid chronic use of aggressive behaviors because they create walls of defensiveness in children and damages their ability to have open, honest, and free communication with adults
  • Use assertive behaviors to lessen the resistance and defensiveness of children
  • Use statement beginning with: “I feel… (this way) when … (you do that).”
  • Do not use statements beginning with: “you do…(this bad deed)” which are statements of blaming, scolding, and condemning
  • Practice the skill of assertiveness with children to role model for them how to be assertive themselves.
  1. Curb your temper
  • Keep your temper, anger, and rage from exploding on children
  • Eliminate the negative impact of the many ways in which anger can be shown to children
  • Recognize that if you have a short fuse that you need to get it out of your system by healthy anger work-out strategies
  • Keep your anger away from children so as not to hurt them and protect their emerging self-esteem
  • Avoid the possibility of becoming verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive to children when handling your own anger
  • Keep children free of external intimidation, fear, and insecurity, which can come from anger displayed in unhealthy ways
  • Role-model healthy handling of anger and curbing temper to teach children that they can do the same for themselves
  • Recognize that it is normal to get angry and that how you handle anger is important in the development of an esteeming environment for children.
  1. Accept and love unconditionally
  • Show children that you accept and love them unconditionally for who they are not for what they do
  • Avoid giving children the false impression that their worth and value is dependent on how they perform, act, or achieve
  • Nurture children with no regard for what the children have done or how they have behaved
  • Do not bargain with children by only accepting and loving them if they perform in a manner which you expect
  • Recognize that every thing you say or do which is directed towards children has a significant impact on how their self-esteem will develop
  • Recognize that your messages to children become the subconscious scripts which they listen to about who they are and how much value and worth they have as people
  • Recognize it is your responsibility to assist children to recognize that their innate worth and value is more important than the externals in their lives
  • De-emphasize the importance of things and the content of life and emphasize the value of feelings, interactions, and relationships as tools which give children a sense of worth and value
  • Work at helping children to develop a sense of self-confidence and self-pride so that they can becomes self-sufficient and self-reliant later in life.
  1. Encourage uniqueness and individuality
  • Allow the personalities of children to blossom in their uniqueness and individuality with no constraints or demands that they conform to the “fantasy” or “dream child” which you have in your mind
  • Establish that it is OK for each child to be different and unique from the other children to help them to believe that they are not “less than” if they do not match or equal the talents, skills and abilities of the others
  1. Encourage sense of autonomy
  • Allow children to strive for autonomy when they are at that developmental stage in which this movement is natural
  • Don’t be threatened when children begin to show signs of pulling away from their dependency on you, which occurs early on when children reach the “terrible two” stage
  • Encourage children to develop a sense of personal mastery, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and self-confidence to handle the challenges of life
  • Use children’s breaking away to be autonomous and self-directed as the training ground for independence
  • Enable children learn to self-regulate, self-correct, and self-direct
  • Recognize that children must be allowed to make their own choices and decision
  • Enjoy watching children experiment with independence and be available to help them learn from the mistakes and errors they will make in the process
  • Seize the opportunity to encourage children to learn how to take increasing personal responsibility for their own lives.
  1. Seek win-win solutions
  • Use the win-win solution model when solving problems, resolving disagreements, or settling conflicts
  • Compromise with the child so that the solution is satisfactory to you both
  • Seek out results resulting in a win-win where both parties are winners. It avoids the win-lose solution where only one person is the winner.
  1. Encourage mutual respect
  • Show respect to child lead, feelings and ideas
  • Give children an experience of personal respect for differences in others by respecting, accepting and overlooking their own personal differences
  • Instill in children a respect for you, their family members and others
  • Help children to understand and accept the difference among and between people of different races, creeds, cultures, color, sex, age, body size, handicapping conditions, developmental disabilities, weight, bodily features, etc.
  1. Avoid being overprotective
  • Avoid being overprotective and afraid to expose children to the realities of the real world
  • Let them see that the real world is not always nice to people
  • Encourage children to face the world for what it is and not paint unrealistic rose color pictures
  • Encourage children to experience life in and outside of the house without the protective parental blanket under which they can hide if they do not like what they see or experience
  • Do not hesitate to provide opportunities by which children see the harshness of life and the apparent unfairness of it for many people
  • Allow children to feel the negative feelings which come from facing life as not always safe, easy, and comfortable.
  1. Empathize with hard knocks
  • Be available and capable to empathize with and support children when they share with you some distress they experience in real life
  • Help them in floor time to empathize with others who are hurt and in pain from getting physically hurt or emotionally hurt from teasing, name calling, and kidding
  • Role play in floor time, experiences of failures, frustrations, or major errors of judgment, behavior, and actions
  • Provide children an empathic listening ear and supportive response which leads them to develop strategies to cope with the harsh realities of life.
  1. Have fun!
  • Get down to children’s levels and become a child and have fun with them
  • Allow your healthy inner child to interact the children
  • Help children learn how to have fun in games and other child-like activities
  • Be alert to when children lose the point of having fun in a game or activity and stop the activity when it ceases to be fun
  • Encourage children to laugh and develop a good sense of humor about themselves, others and life.
  1. Stimulate creativity!
  • Provide opportunities and outlets for children to develop their creativity, imagination and freedom of expression in problem solving
  • Encourage children to develop extensive repertoires of approaches, solutions, and resolutions to problems, challenges and crises in life
  • Move children away from stereotypical problem solving and black and white thinking
  • Teach children to brainstorm all ideas, solutions and creations in which they are involved
  • Do not limit children by “yes, but” responses when they are problem solving
  • Do not immediately question alternatives presented
  • Generate with children a large number of ideas, solutions and alternatives
  • Help children to make creative responses utilizing the whole range of their thinking, feelings, energy, talents and abilities
  • Encourage children to be creative problem solvers and creators to optimally utilize their intellectual and cognitive potential.
  1. Communicate!
  • Communicate with children at their level of understanding about feelings and emotional matters so that they know that their feelings are important
  • Recognize the importance of open and honest communication with children
  • Make every effort to listen and respond to the feelings and messages expressed by children both verbally and non-verbally
  • De-emphasize the content of what is being said to insure that the feelings of children are being listened and responded to
  • Do not to get caught up with the content of what children express so that their feelings do not get ignored in the process
  • Share with children your own feelings, since openness about how one feels, encourages learning the lesson that honesty, about how one feels, is healthy and desirable
  • Encourage children to be visible to others through open communications
  • Encourage children to openly discuss all fears and concerns so that they do not grow up hindered by unresolved worries or fears.
  1. Give freedom of choice
  • Give children the freedom to make choices in their lives not burdened by guilt, fear of loss of approval, or rejection if their choices do not please you
  • Help children to live in a rational reality based life which is free of guilt, fear of loss of approval, or fear of rejection
  • Positively affirm children and give them the message of full unconditional acceptance for who they are rather than just for what they do
  • Assist children to accept personal responsibility for their own choices and behaviors
  • Assist children to recognize the natural and logical consequences of their actions.
  • Assist children to become good problem solvers capable of making decisions in a rational and reality-based way.


  1. Stimulate leadership potential
  • Encourage children to experience the feelings of being leaders of their own lives with a sense of self-direction, self-determination, and self-deserving
  • Encourage children to be altruistic and willing to share their talents, skills, and resources with others
  • Encourage children to come up with their own goals, objectives, and procedures to achieve desired outcomes they desire
  • Encourage children to make an honest assessment of their capabilities, competencies, and talents. With a clarity of who they are and what they are capable of achieving the children are encouraged to pursue activities which will accentuate, complement, and highlight them.
  1. Encourage a world view
  • Open the eyes of children to the realities of the world around them so as to encourage a world view in their awareness of life
  • Help children from developing a restrictive and parochial view of life which is limited to their families, neighborhood, and school
  • Encourage children to read newspapers and magazines which detail the news of the world, nation, state, and community
  • Encourage children to watch television and listen to radio news and talk shows
  • Engage children in conversations about the news which they are reading, seeing, and hearing
  • Listen and respond to children’s questions about what is the meaning and importance of these news events
  • Engage children in further exploration about the history and traditions of different cultures, societies, and nationalities
  • Bring children to museums, libraries, and events which expand their awareness of the world and its problems.


  1. Adapt for special needs

Make adaptations in your relating style for children who have special needs. These include children with

  • developmental disabilities such as autistic spectrum, pervasive developmental disorder, multi-systems disorder, intellectual deficits, hearing impairments, visual impairments, physically handicapping conditions, epilepsy, autism, specific learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity and distractibility, and other genetic or physiologically based conditions which impair typical development
  • Another set of children with special needs have childhood chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, heart, kidney, liver, or other diseases
  • A third set of special needs are children who are gifted in intellectual, athletic, musical, or other performance activities
  • A fourth set of special needs are children who were injured and possibly permanently impaired in an accident or manmade or natural disaster
  • A fifth set of special needs are children who are survivors of a parent, sibling, or other close family member’s death either from accidental or natural causes. This set also includes children who are survivors of a close family member’s death by suicide.
  • Seek out help from professionals in the areas of the children’s special needs in order to learn how to modify and adapt their strategies to address these needs
  • Recognize that the siblings of children with special needs, have special needs themselves. These children need to be given equal attention and support as that given those with special needs. This insures typical siblings are not neglected or ignored in these families
  • Recognize that having children with special needs is a challenge to parents and families so provide a great deal of support and assistance to them so that they can better to learn to cope with and handle the stress this entails.
  1. Advocate!
    • Advocate for children with the schools, faith communities, sports teams, clubs, and other community systems which serve them
    • Advocate so that these organizations will implement and continue the self-esteem enhancement and cultural identity efforts you have begun for the children
    • Negotiate with the various groups, systems, and agencies involved in children’s lives to insure that they are offering an optimal environment which will build up rather than tear down self-esteem and identity
    • Speak out if there is an injustice or impropriety aimed at children
    • Do not sit back and let your efforts to assist children be sabotaged by others
    • Become fully informed about the school system in which children are or will be enrolled
    • Make your presence known at school and openly invite all teachers and administrators to involve them on children’s educational team
    • Monitor the other sports, club and community functions children are involved in to insure that their functioning is consistent with the principles you have encouraged for children.