...inspire their best! e-news#17: Behaviour Teacher vs Behaviour Manager, Part 1

by Mary Stuart, E.C.E.D.H., RECE


  1. MANAGE is to direct, control, handle, deal with, run
  2. TEACH is to model, coach, explain, show, demonstrate, clarify, train, instruct, educate

In my almost 28 years in the field, I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of children and families and teachers trying to figure out the “behaviour” puzzle.

My original training was in “behaviour management” and special needs.

After becoming very skilled at “behaviour management”, I found very early on in my career that trying to “manage” behaviour was more about me being able to direct, handle, deal with and/or control behaviour so that the outcome was positive. That in and of itself seems OK.

However, as I continued to use the same techniques with all the different personalities, temperaments, ages and stages, I found that they were becoming less and less effective.

Less effective = Less Positive = FRUSTRATED! The child was not being separated from the behaviour – the deed from the doer!

I had to LEARN a new way, a new perspective, a new paradigm! Otherwise, I was going to burn out quickly and/or act out of anger instead of knowledge and understanding.

As I continued to reflect on my methods, actions and motivations, I came to the realization that I had to change first!

I had to own the problem more than the child: I had to learn to TEACH VS MANAGE behaviour skills.


  1. IT’S COMMUNICATION: Children’s behaviour is how they communicate. It is the “language” of children. They are communicating their needs, their dislikes, their challenges in understanding what is expected of them.
  2. THEY ARE UNIQUE: Children have their own temperaments, learning styles, nature, and personalities. Our job is to know who they are and how they learn and respond.
  3. THEY ARE STILL LEARNING LIFE SKILLS: TO be self aware, have self control, learn self discipline, how to articulate feelings, manage emotions, get along, wait, take turns, problem solve…
  4. LIMITS AND BOUNDARIES (for their age and stage) lovingly set and reinforced send a strong message that builds a child’s SELF ESTEEM.
  5. FRICTION IS GOOD! It is how they learn! They are engaged. They are learning what is appropriate and what is not appropriate behaviour. It is their job to bump up against the boundaries!

TEACHING VS MANAGING is knowing that all children sometimes exhibit undesirable behaviour, whether it is the Testing Toddler, the Passionate Preschooler or the Striving School Ager!

An effective BEHAVIOUR TEACHER is one that remembers: LIFE SKILLS take years to learn!

Stay tuned for more information on how to TEACH, MODEL, COACH, SUPPORT AND GUIDE behaviour.

If would like to learn more about how to deal with your unique child and situation, we offer Childlife Strategies that Work! Phone Sessions!
The first session is complimentary. Find out if it makes sense for your family or school.

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We are here to help make sense when kids don’t!

Live, Laugh, Love – your child will thank you!