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Early years: What is the child’s behaviour communicating? Why is the child displaying this behaviour?

  • There is an understanding within the setting that behaviour that challenges/ behaviours of concern are a form of communication. Communication has a function.
  • Understand the function of the behaviour before implementing strategies – try to identify why the child is displaying behaviours before planning how to support them. 
  • Identify what is not working well through engagement with the child as early as possible. There is a positive robust key person system in place that supports the relationship.
  • Consider what the behaviour may be reflecting. Are the behaviours communicating a sensory, escape, attention or tangible need? Is there an unmet communication, or social, emotional and mental health need?
  • Look at the history, when did the behaviour start to change? Can you identify triggers? Talk to the parents to understand the child’s experiences at home and if the family have similar concerns.
  • Liaise and collaborate with home to understand the wider picture.
  • Keep a note of concerns, liaise with designated professional (SENCO, Key Person or safeguarding lead) within your setting
  • Be aware if children have been prescribed medication, feedback any changes or concerns to the parents so that they can discuss with their GP to rule out health issues.
  • Unpick the behaviours – negative and positive behaviours – what lies behind them?
  • Facilitate the implementation of specialist advice, e.g. substitutes for self-harming behaviours such as elastic bands or marbles.
  • Consider a low arousal approach.


Children’s Learning and WellBeing Audit (CLaWBA)

IDP – Behaviour_Emotional+Social_Difficulties.pdf

EYFS – Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning

Inclusion Development Programme: Supporting children with Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties – Guidance for practitioners in the Early Years Foundation Stage – elearning

Early Years In Mind

Low arousal approach information.

Last updated 2 November 2021

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