Controlling method versus guidance - which would you choose?
There is no doubt that managing large numbers of children with different emotional requirements in an early childhood setting is a tricky task.
From using “time out” and the “naughty step” in the style of the UK’s Super Nanny, to using punishment and reward methods, there are many theories on how to manage children’s behaviour.
But studies have revealed that the “guidance method” produces superior outcomes to that of the control method.
Child psychologist Dr Louise Porter presented her seminar on the Principles of Guiding Children’s Behaviour at the 2019 Goodstart Early Learning teachers conference.
Entitled Being a Teacher: Integrating Identity, Theory and Practice, Dr Porter was joined by leading education expert Sir Kevan Collins, Semann and Slattery co-director Anthony Semann and early childhood educator Kirsty Liljegren.
Dr Porter said the controlling method, which used punishment and reward, was based on negative beliefs that children are attention seeking, manipulative and misbehaving deliberately. The guidance method, however, trusts that children are cooperative and that they do well when they can.
“There is a need for humans to be autonomous. We all need self-esteem to successfully navigate life and we get that from being connected to others or being self-governed. The guidance method encourages this,” Dr Porter said.
The guidance method believes that children will do well when they can, and like adults, want to be successful in life. If they are making mistakes, it is because they lack the skill to carry out the tasks successfully.
“Therefore, if we punished them for lacking skill, we would be punishing them for being children,” she said.
“Guidance does not use rewards or punishments but instead teaches children skills that allow them to behave considerably.”
Dr Porter said 80 per cent of children want adults in their lives to like them.
“We don’t need consequences to teach these children a lesson because they have already learnt it. However, 20 per cent are prepared to risk your displeasure to prove to you that you can’t make them comply but the more you try to control those children, the worse their behaviour will get.”
Goodstart Early Learning employs more than 1000 early childhood teachers throughout the country and aims to increase that number by 2020 to ensure there are at least two teachers in each of our centres.
Goodstart general manager pedagogy and practice Sue Robb said the organisation’s most important resource was people.
“With the right people we can do anything,” she said. “We need to invest in our people so that they are as skilled and knowledgeable as they can be to deliver the best early learning for our children,” she said.
The conference was also an opportunity to celebrate the region’s new teacher mentors. Conferences are being held throughout Australia.
Read more about the teacher's conference here