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Difficult Behavior in Early Childhood

Positive Discipline for PreK-3 Classrooms and Beyond
First Edition
By: Ronald Mah

The author helps teachers better understand and guide children toward positive behavior by effectively motivating them, developing their self-control, and more.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781412937153
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2006
  • Page Count: 176
  • Publication date: July 12, 2006

Price: $39.95

Price: $39.95
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"Teachers of young children will feel validated by this book that explains the issues underlying behaviors that challenge us on a daily basis and shows how to address them effectively."
-Xiomara Sánchez, NBCT, Dual Language Pre-K Teacher, Darwin Elementary School, Chicago, IL

"Covers the breadth of children's behaviors that teachers are likely to see, and describes the major motivators for them very well. The examples and scenarios are highly interesting, meaningful, and transferable to classroom practice."
-Gail Hardesty, Early Reading First Mentor, Chicago Public Schools, IL

Increase your understanding of children to guide and shape behavior in positive ways!

Teachers are masterful in balancing the diverse backgrounds, social-emotional needs, and academic goals of children in their classroom-that is, if they can only get them to sit still, pay attention, keep their hands off of each other (or out of the fish tank), or a host of other effective aggravations! But creating a classroom of attentive learners takes more than swift discipline-it involves helping children make good behavioral choices by developing their self-control rather than controlling them to make the choices we prefer.

Difficult Behavior in Early Childhood offers insight into understanding why certain children behave in certain ways, so teachers can react appropriately to individual behaviors and needs. In an engaging, conversational tone, the book covers:

  • Reconciling the different behavioral expectations of families and schools
  • Applying timeout effectively
  • Motivating children immediately and powerfully
  • Establishing and following through with boundaries
  • Developing behavior incentive plans that work
  • Identifying early signs of depression, anxiety, grief, and special needs

Through informed practice, teachers can bring about positive behavioral change and healthy, productive development.

Key features

  • Disciplining techniques that take into account the whole child in the context of family and community
  • Insight into motivating children immediately and powerfully
  • Suggestions for responding to and redirecting anger
  • Instructions for setting and following through with boundaries
  • Ways to identify early signs of depression, anxiety, grief, and/or special needs
  • Detailed information on developing behavior incentive plans


Ronald Mah photo

Ronald Mah

Ronald Mah, an educator and licensed marriage and family therapist, has worked in early childhood education for 16 years. A credentialed elementary and secondary teacher, he is the author of Difficult Behavior in Early Childhood and The One-Minute Temper Tantrum Solution (2006 and 2008, Corwin Press). He wrote the Asian Pacific Islander Parent Education Support curriculum (DHS-San Francisco, 1996). Mah has DVDs on child development and behavior (Fixed Earth Films), and has been involved in community and high school mental health clinics, severe emotional disturbance, at-risk youth, welfare-to-work, and Head Start programs. A graduate college instructor and Board of Directors member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and of the California Kindergarten Association, Mah combines concepts, principles, and philosophy with practical techniques and guidelines for effective and productive results. Mah has a psychotherapy practice in San Leandro, California where he works with children, teens, adults, couples, and families.
Table of Contents

Table of Contents


About the Author


Part I. The Role of Discipline

1. Discipline in Classrooms, Families, and Society

Communities That Affect Children’s Development

Family Expectations and Classroom Expectations

Discipline From the Inside Out

Practice Makes Better

Appropriate Discipline Develops Social Competence

Chapter Highlights

Part II. Time and Using Timeout

2. Before Timeout: Understanding Children’s Sense of Time

Children’s Sense of Time

Making Time Relevant to Children

Or Else!

When There Isn’t One “Best” Choice

Likability, Validation, Acceptance, and Connection

Unconditional Love and Conditional Acceptance

Chapter Highlights

3. Three Common Uses of Timeout and Why They Fail to Work

Theory 1. The "Suffering" Theory of Timeout

Theory 2. The "Think About It" Theory of Timeout

Theory 3. The “How Would You Like It If…” Theory of Timeout

Chapter Highlights

4.The Community Theory of Timeout That Works

The Three Rules of Community

The Gift of Timeout

Chapter Highlights

5. Applying Timeout Effectively

Begin With Basic Boundaries and Instructions

Return to Timeout

Timeout Again?

Timeout in Perspective

Moving From Timeout to a Plan: Doing Something Differently

Chapter Highlights

Part III. Setting and Following Through With Boundaries

6. Boundaries: The Foundation for Growth and Change

Block Negative Behaviors First

Clarify Boundaries and Consequences

Ambiguity Won’t Work

Chapter Highlights

7. Follow-Through and Consistency

Follow Through With Verbal and Nonverbal Messages

Be More Stubborn Than Your Students

Constantly and Consistently Reinforce Behavior

Beyond Boundaries, Consequences, Follow-Through, and Consistency

Chapter Highlights

Part IV. Punishment, Praise, and Rewards

8. How and Why Punishment Works—and Doesn't Work

Motivation to Misbehave

Immunity to Punishment

Intensification and Abusive Behavior

Admitting It’s Time for a Change

Discipline Is More Than Punishment Alone

Chapter Highlights

9. The Effective and Judicious Uses of Praise

Praise the Person, Not the Behavior

Self-Awareness of Achievement: The True Reward

Attention, Appreciation, and Material Rewards

Chapter Highlights

10. The Most Important Lesson of Choices

A Multiple-Choice World

Rewarding Children for Meeting Expectations

Consequences for Poor Choices Are Necessary

Reasonable and Unreasonable Behaviors

Reflecting on Your Own Choices

Chapter Highlights

11. Motivating Reward Systems: Key Issues and Effective Principles

Rewards as a Part of the Process, Not the Total Process

A Reward System Cannot Become a Punishment System

Principles of an Effective Reward System

Chapter Highlights

12. Rewards-Only Behavior Plans

"Rewards-Only" Means Just That

Basic Terms of the Plan

Make the Plan Practical

Success in One Area of Behavior Transfers to Other Areas

Chapter Highlights

13. Connecting Goals to Motivating Rewards

Defining Goals and Rewards

Choosing Quantifiable Goals

Defining and Quantifying Desirable Behaviors

Short-Term, Midterm, and Long-Term Goals

Goals That Involve Time Frames

Remember, No Punishments

Children Should Choose Their Rewards (Within Reason)

Age-Appropriate and Individually Tailored Rewards

Rewarding Consistency With Bonuses

Examples of Rewards-Only Incentive Plans

Always Follow Through

Chapter Highlights

Part V. Recognizing and Responding to Specific Behaviors and Emotions

14. When There Is More to It: Helping Children With Deeper Issues

Happy Children Act Out Too

Is This an Angry Child?

Is This a Sad Child?

Is This a Fearful or Anxious Child?

Is This a Child Who Is Holding Unprocessed Pain or Loss?

Is This a Child Who May Need a Referral to a Specialist?

Chapter Highlights

Conclusion: Now What?

Asking Questions

From Observations to Results

Be a Teaching Artist





Price: $39.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.