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Children sit next to each other on a classroom carpet. One child has her hand extended, thumb raised.


Paulette Maggiacomo

Paulette Maggiacomo

August 6, 2020

How many of us feel like aw are juggling on any given day? How is it possible to keep all these plates up in the air? What happens when we drop one plate, or two, or three? With all that is happening in our world today, how are we even keeping any plates up? Today, let’s talk about Resiliency, Self-Care, & Lifelong Learning.

Dr. Antoinette Taylor’s presentation How Can I Deal with This Child’s Behavior When I’m Juggling So Many Plates? truly resonates with me. Keeping plates spinning all of the time is overwhelming! She shared that in order to be resilient, we must press pause and realize that we can’t keep all the plates spinning but we can take the plates off the sticks and manage them. Let us manage the plates instead of them managing us.

How do we do this?

As early education professionals, we must be lifelong learners. New research is constantly coming out in our field and it is important for us to be able to articulate it. Teachers feel empowered when they have the knowledge to address what is occurring in their classroom. So how are we able to continue this learning journey?

  • Encourage participation in professional development workshops presented in our area.

  • The internet has exploded with virtual learning. Use it to your advantage.

Dr. Taylor said that we often talk about children having “summer slide” but teachers do too! Directors: it is vital to carve out time to schedule staff development days with no children present. I know what you are thinking - my parents work and this would be so inconvenient for them. On the other hand, think of how beneficial it would be for your teachers to come together as a School Family, connect, and learn something new. This time also allows teachers to know that they have a voice and are valued and respected. In turn, it also gives them confidence to apply what they have learned which ultimately has a positive impact on the children in their care. Let me paraphrase a popular saying: A happy teacher makes a happy child.

Challenging behavior is often the reason for a plate to wobble and fall. So, let’s take it off and manage it. Believe or not, children do not wake up thinking how am I going to misbehave in class and annoy my teacher? Their misbehavior is a time for us to teach the skills that they are missing.

As early childhood educators, we know that it is not our job to diagnose children. But due to our passion as lifelong learners we are often the first ones to notice that a child might have a developmental delay or is in need of some kind of extra service. Dr. Taylor states that child development is nonlinear and our different domains can develop at different rates. Here is where she discussed “twice exceptional children”. These children are at or above average in one domain of development, yet need support in another area or domain of development. Athletes are a perfect example, where one might excel at football but not at basketball. A child may have strong fine motor skills but weak in social/emotional skills, for example, they might enjoy spending time painting but have a meltdown if another child wants to have a turn. So instead of thinking, what is wrong with this child? They are making me crazy! We must switch our mindset and realize that the child is not doing this to us. Instead of saying they can’t, how about saying they can?

Engaging in this virtual conference has reinforced my belief that there is no one right answer in dealing with challenging behavior. I have learned that for me, it comes down to self- care. If I am not taking care of myself, then it reflects in my daily interactions with those around me. If I carve out time for me every day, even if it is just for a few minutes, then my interactions reflect a positive vibe. Therefore, instead of having a “Q-Tip” (Quit Taking it Personally) mindset, I am able see that the person in front of me needs my compassion and empathy.

Until next time, I wish you well.

An image showing the "iceberg of behavior." The top of the iceberg shows challenging behaviors like hitting. Below the water, the iceberg talks about needs the child may have: being tired or hungry; and other possible causes like trauma or boredom.
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