Challenging behaviors in infant and toddler non-parental care: An exploration of caregiver beliefs and response strategies
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The number of children under the age of three spending time in non-parental care has increased over the last three decades. In order to promote optimal development, children and their caregivers must develop secure and nurturing relationships. The current body of literature suggests that challenging behaviors can disrupt these relationships. This study builds upon this literature by focusing on the experiences of children under the age of three and their caregivers in both child care centers (CCC) and family child care homes (FCC). The current study analyzes survey data from 272 infant and toddler child care providers in Washington state, CCC = 79, FCC = 193. Survey items focus on experiences with, and knowledge of, challenging behaviors (aggressive, disruptive, and challenging behaviors of infancy). They also ask about caregiver expertise, job stress and program characteristics. Qualitative responses were coded using a combination of inductive and deductive coding categories. A priori codes were selected from the literature on challenging behaviors and supportive responses suggested by the Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL). The current study uses multiple linear regression to determine the influence of predictor variables (e.g. provider expertise, stress, and program characteristics) on caregiver responses to challenging behaviors. The caregiver Strategy Support Score (SSS) is a measure of strategies used by caregivers when children demonstrate challenging behaviors and serves as the outcome variable. An exploratory, supplementary logistic regression model is also run to further investigate the impact of these variables on responses to challenging behavior; the use of timeout serves as the outcome variable for this model. Descriptive data related to frequency of behaviors, the meaning that caregivers attribute to behaviors, and the rate of expulsion are discussed. Differences between FCC and CCC experiences are explored. The results of the current study indicate that aggressive behaviors are commonly experienced and identified as difficult to work with by infant and toddler caregivers. There appear, however, to be differences in the ways that FCC and CCC providers experience these behaviors. Caregivers use a mix of CSEFEL and other strategies when presented with challenging behaviors. Working with families appears to be infrequent, particularly in response to aggressive behaviors. Children under the age of three appear to be expelled at lower rates than their older peers. Access to training, level of caregiver education, and class size appear to have the most robust influences on SSS.
- Education - Seattle