Playing with fire…

We absolutely love delivering training to Early Years and schools. There is a certain kind of buzz we get from it, particularly when it’s face to face. It’s so lovely to be back meeting people again after the long break of the past 2 years. 

One of our most popular sessions is how to understand and support children’s behaviour. Within this training we always question what specifically the staff are seeing. The behaviours experienced are varied – including not listening, being unkind, having tantrums or aggressive behaviours like biting, hitting or head-butting. They are always of concern and – without fail – need analysing far beyond the actual behaviour that we see on the surface.

There can be many reasons why behaviour is happening – you could have 3 children all doing exactly the same thing but you may need a different approach for each child in order to fully support them. Being able to look at a child as an individual and starting to unpick those underlying reasons (who said a career in childcare was easy!) is key to understanding what may be happening for them. This leads to the right support being put in place – rather than a “one strategy fits all” approach.

We recently ran a 4 week course for parents at a primary school. At the end, one of them summed it up perfectly for us (I wish we could say we had thought of this!) She said knowing how to support your child is like putting out a fire. How you put out the fire depends on what fuels it in the first place. You would not put an oil fire out by throwing water all over it, but you would use water if it was a wood or paper fire. By understanding the cause of the fire, you are then able to use the right approach.

In the same way, by understanding what is happening for a child when they misbehave, we can put the right support in place and often de-escalate behaviour, not only in the moment but also in the future. It is not an easy thing to do, particularly in a busy setting or school, but the more we are able to fully understand what is happening – which can take a few attempts – the more we are able to put the right strategies in place which support the child in the right way. Yes, we need to guide children and set safe and appropriate boundaries. However let’s say a child is unable to manage their emotions which leads to a meltdown. Punitive consequences are going to have little effect, in fact in many cases it will make things worse. In that moment supporting a child with their emotions will have a more positive effect, then,  and in the longer term. 

In writing our training courses we do a lot of research – and I mean A LOT! We constantly come across various “new” approaches to behaviour – the latest thing, the magic wand, the holy grail! All very worthy I’m sure, but what we believe above everything else is – look beyond the behaviour, think about what may be happening for each unique child, understand their experience and start to see the world through their eyes.

We run a company called Purple Parenting, offering bespoke staff training from Early Years to KS2 and parent coaching.  If you are struggling with understanding children’s behaviours and needs and would like to book bespoke training to give you time and space to unpick behaviours, understand what is going on in your specific setting and have practical strategies to use during those challenging occasions, then contact us through our website, Facebook/Instagram message or email on