Handling hard-to-manage behaviours in pre-school provision: a systems approach

Hugh Foot, Lisa Woolfson, Melody Terras, Claire Norfolk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The perceptions and experiences of hard-to-manage behaviours were
explored among 32 staff working in a variety of local authority and private
nurseries and playgroups. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to
ascertain what behaviours in children staff find most challenging, how they
were managed and concerns communicated to parents.
Results showed
that aggression, inability to share and refusal were perceived as the most
prevalent and worrying. Exclusion, explanation and distraction were the
most frequently used strategies for handling such behaviours. Staff who
were prepared to raise with parents their concerns about problematic
behaviours that endangered the child’s safety were out-of-character or
A systems approach, based upon the ecological congruence
model, was adopted to explain the links between staff perceptions and their
tolerance for discrepancies from social norms. Staff–parent communication
effectiveness was interpreted in terms of the home–pre-school relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-138
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • behaviour management
  • ecological congruence model
  • social inclusion
  • staff-parent communication
  • staff perception
  • systems approach


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