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Behavior Management: term Definition Essay

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Updated: Nov 12th, 2021

News of children having been beaten up by parents, having been sent for a whole day without food, locked in a small room within the house for all the 24 hours of the day were common place in the past few years. However, the trend has changed drastically of late. This could be attributed to the change in approach to the unwanted behavior within our children. While punishing unwanted behavior was the norm during the past years, the current approach involves management of the unwanted behavior. This calls for a different approach that does not entail the old adage, “Spare the rod, and spoil the child.” In this new approach, the most important aspect is understanding the factors influencing the behavior of a child, how they manifest themselves and how they can be controlled in case of their detection in the life of a child (Kay, 2006).

Apart from understanding the factors influencing the growth and development of certain behavior in children, it is important to understand the psychology of the child in the early years (Mukherji, 2004). Among the factors to consider during the psychological study of the child are his process of cognition, his language development, his emotional development and all other factors including aspects of stereo typing.

To have a good understanding of these issue, one has to embark on a steady observation process where the activities of the child in question will be monitored every day under given circumstances so that a clear understanding can be made concerning the effect of the environment in connection with a given type of behavior. To achieve this, I embarked on a routine study on a group of students in my class after having been permitted by the class teacher and the parents of the children. My study entailed an observation process that included how the children behaved within the class, during games time, in the dining hall, and during prayer sessions.

The observations

In the group, three children seemed to have a peculiar kind of behavior that caught my attention. As a result, I concentrated my energy on understanding the factors that influenced those observed behavior and thus thought of how the behavior could be managed so as to ensure that the children behaved in a normal way as the rest. The following is the analysis on the observation that I made on the three children.

One of the children, a little girl by the name Cindy had a peculiar kind of behavior. In class, she was quiet. She rarely concentrated on the teacher. In most cases, she drifted into space while starring through the window. This was Cindy in class. During games time, Cindy would not be seen jumping around and playing with others. In most cases, she took a vantage position and watched as other children played and jumped around. During mealtimes, Cindy rarely ate properly. She seemed to merely touch her food and push it away. No effort could make her eat much. One more thing about Cindy is that she performed so poorly in class. Anytime a teacher approached her, she could shiver with fright. It was later found that Cindy’s father was a drunkard who always came back home late at night beating up their mother before turning on the kids and beating them seriously. Any mistake meant led to great punishments from the father.

The second child whose behavior caught my attention was Betty. She is a very neat girl who is rarely found with a stain on her dress. Her character is superb. She is described by the head teacher as the epitome of good behavior. In class, Betty performs well. She is among the class’ best readers and writers. Every time she sees a class mate spotting a dirty stain on her dress, Betty would always ask her why her mother did not help her clean her dress. Another conspicuous behavior about Betty is that she will always approach teachers for help in case of any difficulty in a given situation. Betty is the darling of all teachers. During general cleaning, Betty refuses to participate citing that she would get dirty, something that would not please her mother. This is same in painting classes. She refuses to paint because this would stain her cloth. During games time, Betty can be seen having difficulties in getting along with others.

The third student that I observed was Taylor. He was a very active member of the class. He actively participated in all class activities. One striking thing about Taylor is that he never failed to laugh at his classmates whenever they failed to answer a question correctly or if they failed to pronounce a word correctly. Whenever he is asked the reason behind his laughing, he could give reasons like, “because she is not American.” Or “all guys who come from that side of town cannot afford to answer such a question.”

Such kind of behavior can be exhibited in several instances within a school setting. But what are the causal factors that lead to the development of such behavior? (Kay, 2006) identifies the factors that influence the development of behavior. In the book managing behavior in the early years, Kay highlights the ecological model in the studying and understanding of a child’s behavior. Kay uses the ecological model developed by Bronfenbrenner’s ecosystems approach to identify factor that influence behavior development of a child.

In this model, there are given factors that directly influence the character development and how the interrelation of these factors also impact on the development. In this model, there are three major systems that influence the development. The interaction of a child with these systems eventually leads to her unique development of character. These systems include the Microsystems, exosystems and macrosystems.

Microsystems are the child’s immediate influences. These occur in the home setting. The relationships between the child and the immediate family in the early years can drastically dictate the child’s future behavior. The effect of this system works in connection with the mesosystem. Mesosystem is the connecting systems between the Microsystems that directly influence the child (Kay, 2006). Microsystems include the parents, brothers and sisters, early school settings, disabilities, friends and the extended family.

The next level of influence comes in terms of exosystems (Kay, 2006). These are the factors which have an indirect influence on the child’s behavior through their effects on the microsystem elements. For example, a factor that will influence a father or sibling will have effects indirectly on the child. This is referred to as the exosystem.. Exosystems entail parents’ education, parents’ employment or unemployment, the family’s level of income or poverty, social and community support. Finally, the third influence on the behavior development of a child is the macrosystem which refers to the wider context of the society including culture and other social influences. This includes the social class, the neighborhood, the media, culture, social policies and ethnicity.

In the cases shown above, the influence of Microsystems can be heavily felt on each individual’s behavior. Microsystems meaning the family and the immediate environment, Cindy’s withdrawn nature can be attributed to the aggressive relationship of the father towards her. This is a direct influence which can be referred to under the ecosystems model as microsystem. The aggression of the father and his nature of highly punishing any little mistake makes the little girl live in fear of making a mistake. In addition, the bad relationship between the parents also causes the withdrawn nature of Cindy. This can be referred to as the mesosystem. The relationship between two of the Microsystem elements affecting the child (Papatheodorou,).

Betty and Taylor’s cases can be attributed all the way from the Microsystems to macrosystems. Taylor’s demeaning behavior of people of different ethnicity and those from certain probably low class sections of town could germinate directly from what the family members view the people of that ethnicity and those from the given region. That is the effect from the microsystem. But this does not result unless the exosystem factors place Taylor’s family in a better position as compared to the children he laughs at. This is to say that his father’s employment and his level of income probably rank higher than those children making him live in a better estate and thus creating the macrosystems influence. With a good salary and living in a good neighborhood, Taylor is influenced more by his neighbors who are probably from an elevated social class.

In that social class and family setting, it probably is believed that people from a certain neighborhoods are not worth and cannot match those from Taylor’s neighborhood. They also believe that people from a certain ethnicity or race are inferior. This is a norm that is accepted from where tailor comes from.

Betty’s family influence cannot be missed in her character. She keeps referring to her mother. For example, she would say, “my mother wouldn’t see me in such a state.” Or “doesn’t her mother care?” this shows her mother’s domination in most of her life. Her behavior is centered on her mother’s specifications. This is a clear indication of the effect of family relationships on the overall behavior pattern of a child. It is transformed into Betty’s ability to consult from teachers but fail to cope with other students of her age. Probably, all her siblings are trained to look upon elder people for assistance. Her mother’s influence is evident in her attractive behavior that makes her the darling of teachers.

Another factor that has contributed to such behavior is the definition of behavior norms. While one child might find a certain behavior perfectly normal, another might it completely unacceptable. A good example is the case of Taylor. While other kids might find racial or discrimination of any kind quite unacceptable, Taylor sees nothing wrong with that. He believes that a certain group of people is inferior. This is the norm as dictated by the society and family from which he was brought up.

Although certain behaviors which are destructive in the process of learning could be universally considered bad, there are others that form a debate due to their nature. This leads to various reactions by various practitioners to various behaviors. Furthermore, different children therefore come to school with different understanding and expectations of what is expected of them. This comes up as a result of what they developed from their societal settings. As psychology dictates, morality levels and perceptions in a heterogeneous society like the school setting can be quite varying (Bernard, 2003). This is because an individual’s perception of morality is defined by the conventions and concepts which are held by one as conduct standards for a particular social set up or social group. Therefore, a child is bound to develop certain standards that he deems fit according to the norms that are dictated by his social set up.

Good strategies cannot be achieved to help these children unless a good understanding of the factors that have contributed to these characters are identified. To achieve this task, Lindon (2005) purports that a good, caring and personal relationship between the practitioner and the child is very essential. There has to be a live link between the child and his parents and the practitioner. This holistic approach can easily identify the core influences that are the provenance of those behaviors.

To set a good strategy, one should understand Mukherji (2001) argument of how behavior is acquired. He says that most behavior is learnt therefore, the availability of inappropriate behavior within the children’s environment will lead to adopting the same. In order to help the children, the practitioner should give boundaries within which children are expected to behave and it should be realistic and consistent. One has to be sure of the exact character that he wants to change then try to understand the reasons that have led to that character. Establish the method that you feel appropriate and involve all the people who are to be involved. Important to note is that the child and the behavior are two different entities and therefore, the child should not be mistaken to be the behavior through labeling. Also, the threatening and physical punishment should be avoided as this is a directive from the government.



He will be taught to realize that all people are equal. One of the ways will be through identifying a pupil who is stronger than him in a given task but falls under the category that Taylor perceives to be inferior. They should be given the same task. This should be repeated severally by different pupils with different activities. This will bring to his realization that those inferior people are not as worthless as he has been made to understand.


The standards of the school should be made to be consistent and compulsory. For example, when it means painting, every student should paint. And this should not mean any exceptions. The no or yes of the teacher should be final. In addition, she should be continually given tasks to undertaken that initially she thought only her mother could do. This should give her confidence that she can do things on her own.


She needs absolute counseling. This will be very important in making her learn to cope with the situation of family conflicts at home. In addition, their should be a personal relationship between one practitioner and her so that she is made to feel wanted and loved. The teacher should be ready to listen to her stories because this will help her release the pressure that mounts within. Furthermore, Cindy should be encouraged to play more and more this will destruct her from thinking about her tribulations.


Bernard, Allen. (2003). Changing Minds. The Psychology of Managing Challenging Behavior Within an Ethical and Legal Framework. St-Leonards On Sea: Steaming Ltd.

Canter, L & Canter, M. (1992) Assertive Discipline. Bristol: Behavior Management Ltd.

Cousins, J., Helps, A., Glen. A. (2003). Behavior in Early Years.(tried and Tested Strategies. Routledge.

Drifte, Collette. (2004) Encouraging Positive Behaviorin the Early Years: A Practical Guide. Sage.

Kay, Janet.(2006) Managing Behavior in the Early Years. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Lindon, J (2005) Understanding Child Development: Linking Theory and Practice, Hodder Arnold.

Mukherji, Penny, and Brain, Christine.(2005) Understanding Child Psychology. Nelson Thornes.

Papatheodorou, Theodora. (2005). Behavior Problems in the Early Years: A Guide for Undestanding and Support. Routledge.

Riddall-Leech, Sheila, and Rennie, Margaret. (2003) Managing children’s Behavior. Heinnemann.

Rogers, Bill. (2000)Behavior Management – A Whole School Approach. Sage: New York.

Whitney, I. & Smith, P. (1993) A Survey of the Nature and Extend of Bully/Victim in Junior/middle Schools. Education Research. 35: 3-25.

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