Early Childhood Practitioners Learning to Strategise for Challenging Behaviours


A three-day conference, aimed at training early childhood practitioners to recognise and understand the causes of challenging behaviours, as well as to develop techniques and strategies to address them, is currently underway in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
The conference is spearheaded by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), under the theme: ‘Promoting Positive Behaviour in Early Childhood’, and is being held at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort.
Chairman of the ECC, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, told JIS News that when the Early Childhood Commission started its sensitisation about the new regulations for early childhood institutions, “we found that parents and practitioners kept asking, ‘now that we have banned corporal punishment and we can’t hit children, what are we expected to do?’ The Commission has responded to this by ensuring that this conference addresses promoting positive behaviours in children, because the best way to manage negative behaviours in children, is to ensure that they have positive behaviours.”
“We have brought someone from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children where they have been championing the cause very successfully of reducing all forms of corporal punishment to children. Of course, this is one of the aspects of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the child should be free from all forms of violence and abuse,” she added.
Dr. Samms-Vaughan explained that the participants have been engaged in various workshop sessions, where they are being exposed to topics such as behaviour in the early childhood period, so as to make a distinction between what was considered as normal behaviour from what was not.
“We also have a workshop that looks at special forms of violence, particularly grief, anger and loss, because so many of our children have lost parents and loved ones to death or murder in this country and those children suffer a particular type of pain and may manifest in the classroom with aggression and other forms of violence. We also have a workshop that looks at how do we identify and support families at risk, because children at risk come out of families at risk, so if we help the families, then we will prevent the children from being at risk,” she said.
The Chairman added that other workshops dealt with topics, such as how the media, physical therapy and even dance are being used to promote positive behaviours in children.
She expressed hope that the participants will benefit tremendously from the workshop.
“We wanted to ensure that the teachers, when they leave here, that they have a range of alternative management strategies, so that there will be no need to use corporal punishment, because they would have learnt so much about how effective other methods can be,” she said.
Meanwhile, participant, Cynthia Nelson, from the Precious Jewel Day Care and Learning Centre, in Clarendon, told JIS News that the conference sessions were interesting and informative.
“It is very eye opening. It starts to relate to us the new concept of how we treat our children. I hope to achieve enough information, so that I can go back to my school and inform and educate not only the staff but also the parents. As for my benefit, I hope to achieve a new way of thinking to help me build my patience and tolerance in dealing with children,” Mrs. Nelson said.
Another participant, Melonie East-Morrison, from the Medora’s Comfort Pre-School and Day Care, in Trelawny, said that she learnt a lot from the workshops.
“I enjoyed the presenters and I know that the Early Childhood Commission is heading for great things and that the children of Jamaica will be benefiting from it,” she told JIS News.

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