top of page

Equality of Opportunity


Promoting positive behaviour


Policy statement

Our setting believes that children flourish best when their personal, social, and emotional needs are met and where there are clear, fair, and developmentally appropriate expectations for their behaviour. Positive behaviour is located within the context of the whole development of children’s skills and well-being. Staff who understand children’s needs, their levels of development, personal characteristics, and specific circumstances, supports this development.


Settling into a new environment is an emotional transition for young children especially as they learn to develop and master complex skills needed to communicate, negotiate and socialise with their peers. Skills such as turn taking and sharing often instigate minor conflicts between children as they struggle to deal with powerful emotions and feelings. During minor disputes, staff members help children to reflect and regulate their actions and, in most instances, children learn how to resolve minor disputes themselves. As children develop, they learn about boundaries, the difference between right and wrong, and to consider the views and feelings, and needs and rights, of others and the impact that their behaviour has on people, places, and objects. The development of these skills requires adult guidance to help encourage and model appropriate behaviours and to offer intervention and support when children struggle with conflict and emotional situations. In these types of situations staff can help identify and address triggers for the behaviour and help children reflect, regulate, and manage their actions. We appoint a member of staff as behaviour coordinator to oversee and advise on the team’s responses to challenging behaviour.



We recognise that some incidents are influenced by factors, requiring a strategic approach especially if the behaviour causes harm or distress to the child or others. These situations are managed by staff using a stepped approach which aims to resolve the issue and/or avoid the behaviour escalating and causing further harm.

This has been an unsettling time for young children. Educators are alert to the emotional well-being of children who may have been affected by the disruption to normal routines. Where a child’s behaviour gives cause for concern, educators take into consideration the many factors that may be affecting them. This is done in partnership with the child’s parents/carers and the principles of this procedure are adhered to



The named person who has overall responsibility for our programme for supporting personal, social, and emotional development, including issues concerning behaviour is Emma Clements.


  • We require the named person to:

  • keep her/himself up to date with legislation, research and thinking on promoting positive behaviour and on handling children's behaviour where it may require additional support.

  • access relevant sources of expertise on promoting positive behaviour within the programme for supporting personal, social and emotional development; and

  • Check that all staff have relevant in-service training on promoting positive behaviour. We keep a record of staff attendance at this training and ensure that all staff have access to additional training on behaviour management such as Understanding and Addressing Behaviour in the Early Years (EduCare) or Encouraging Positive Behaviour (NoodleNow)

  • help staff to implement the Promoting positive behaviour policy and follow the Behaviour Procedure in their everyday practice, advising staff on how to address issues or access expert advice if needed


  • We recognise that codes for interacting with other people vary between cultures and require staff to be aware of - and respect - those used by members of the setting.

  • We require all staff, volunteers, and students to provide a positive model of behaviour by treating children, parents and one another with friendliness, care and courtesy.

  • We familiarise new staff and volunteers with the setting's behaviour policy and its guidelines for behaviour.

  • We expect all members of our setting - children, parents, staff, volunteers, and students - to keep to the guidelines, requiring these to be applied consistently.

  • We work in partnership with children's parents.Parents are regularly informed about their children's behaviour by their key person.We work with parents to address recurring inconsiderate behaviour, using our observation records to help us to understand the cause and to decide jointly how to respond appropriately.


Strategies with children who engage in inconsiderate behaviour

  • We require all staff, volunteers, and students to use positive strategies for handling any inconsiderate behaviour, by helping children find solutions in ways which are appropriate for the children's ages and stages of development. Such solutions might include, for example, acknowledgement of feelings, explanation as to what was not acceptable and supporting children to gain control of their feelings so that they can learn a more appropriate response.

  • We ensure that there are enough popular toys and resources and sufficient activities available so that children are meaningfully occupied without the need for unnecessary conflict over sharing and waiting for turns.

  • We acknowledge considerate behaviour such as kindness and willingness to share.

  • We support each child in developing self-esteem, confidence, and feelings of competence.

  • We support each child in developing a sense of belonging in our group, so that they feel valued and welcome.

  • Rewards such as stickers are used only in particular considered circumstances. Whilst these often provide immediate results for the adult, they do not necessarily provide the child with the skills to manage situations and emotions themselves or apply the positive behaviour to contexts where there is no ‘prize’.

  • We avoid creating situations in which children receive adult attention only in return for inconsiderate behaviour.

  • When children behave in inconsiderate ways, we help them to understand the outcomes of their action and support them in learning how to cope more appropriately.

  • We never send children out of the room by themselves, nor do we use a ‘naughty chair’ or a ‘time out’ strategy that excludes children from the group.

  • We never use physical punishment, such as smacking or shaking. Children are never threatened with these.

  • We do not use techniques intended to single out and humiliate individual children.

  • We use physical restraint, such as holding, only to prevent physical injury to children or adults and/or serious damage to property. This is explained in greater depth in our Physical Restraint Policy.

  • Details of such an event (what happened, what action was taken and by whom, and the names of witnesses) are brought to the attention of our setting leader and are recorded in the child’s personal file.The child’s parent is informed on the same day.

  • In cases of serious misbehaviour, such as racial or other abuse, we make clear immediately the unacceptability of the behaviour and attitudes, by means of explanations rather than personal blame.

  • We do not shout or raise our voices in a threatening way to respond to children's inconsiderate behaviour.


Challenging Behaviour/Aggression by children towards other children

Step 1

  • The setting manager, SENCo and other relevant staff members are knowledgeable with, and apply the Behaviour Procedure

  • Unwanted behaviours are addressed using this agreed and consistently applied approach to deescalate situations

  • Behaviours that result in concern for the child and/or others must be discussed by the key person, SENCo/setting manager. During the meeting the key person must use their all-round knowledge of the child and family to share any known influencing factors such as a new baby in the family, child and/or parental illness, underlying additional needs to help place the child’s behaviour into context.


  • Any aggressive behaviour by children towards other children will result in a staff member intervening immediately to challenge and prevent escalation.

  • A member of staff will

  • If the behaviour has been significant or may potentially have a detrimental effect on the child or those affected,

  • he designated person will contact children’s social services if appropriate i.e if a child has been seriously injured, or if there is reason to believe that a child’s challenging behaviour is an indication that they themselves are being abused and will consider whether notifying the police if appropriate.

  • Ofsted should be notified if appropriate i.e., if a child has been seriously injured.

  • If a physical intervention has been required, the setting will follow the guidance as set out in the Physical Restraint Policy.


  • Relevant health and safety procedures and procedures for dealing with concerns and complaints should be followed.

  • Appropriate adjustments to practice must be agreed within the setting. If relevant, a risk assessment should be carried out.

  • If the adjustments are successful and the unwanted behaviour does not reoccur or cause concern then normal monitoring can resume.


Step 2

  • If a cause for the behaviour is not known or only occurs whilst in the setting, then the setting manager/SENCo must suggest using a focused intervention approach to identifying a trigger for the behaviour such as the ABC approach, i.e. Antecedents – what happened before; Behaviour – what was the behaviour observed; Consequences – what happened after the event.

  • If a trigger is identified, then the SENCo and key person must meet with the parents to plan support for the child through a graduated approach via SEN support

  • The designated person should complete a behaviour plan related to the child’s challenging behaviour

  • Parents should also be asked to sign behaviour plan where the behaviour plan relates to managing the behaviour of a specific child. Parents will also be asked to sign risk assessments where the risk assessment relates to managing the behaviour of a specific child.


Step 3

If despite applying initial intervention to deescalate situations and focused interventions to identify triggers the child’s behaviour continues to occur and/or is of significant concern, the SENCo and key person invite the parents to a meeting to discuss external referral and next steps for supporting the child. It may be agreed that the setting request support from the Early Help team and/or other specialist services such as the Area SENCo. This will help address most developmental or welfare concerns. If the behaviour is part of other welfare concerns that include a concern that the child may be suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, safeguarding procedures must be followed immediately.

  • Advice provided by external agencies is incorporated in a SEN Support Action Plan and regular multi-disciplinary meetings held to review the child’s progress.

  • If a review determines a statutory assessment may be needed then all relevant documentation must be collected in preparation for an Education Health and Care Assessment which may lead onto an Education, Health and Care Plan.


Temporary suspension (fixed term)

Any decision to temporarily suspend a child must be carefully considered lawful, reasonable and fair. If despite following the stepped approach for behaviour it is necessary to temporarily suspend a child, for no more than five days, on the grounds of health and safety, the following steps are followed.

  • The setting manager provides a written request to suspend a child to their line manager; the request must detail the reason why the child must be suspended and the length of time of the proposed suspension.

  • If the line manager approves, the parents must be invited to a meeting to discuss next steps. Parents are invited to bring a representative along. Notes must be taken at the meeting and shared later with the parents. The meeting must aim for a positive outcome for the child and not to suspend.

  • If no acceptable alternative to suspension is found then the setting manager must give both verbal and written notice of time related suspension to the parent, meanwhile the setting manager must ensure that continued resolution is sought and suitable adjustments are in place for the child’s return.

Suspension of a disabled child

We have a statutory duty not to discriminate against a child on the basis of a protected characteristic. This includes suspending a child based on a disability. Ignorance of the law or claiming it was unknown that a child was disabled is no defence. However, if the child’s behaviour places themselves or others at risk then the setting must take actions to avoid further harm. Time limited suspension may be applied to keep the child and/or others safe whilst finding a solution. Suspension is only used if reasonable steps and planned adjustments are first used to help resolve the situation. Without this action, suspension of a child with SEND may constitute disability discrimination (Equality Act 2010). A decision to suspend a disabled child must be clearly evidenced, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and targeted. Plans and intervention must be recorded on the child’s file and SEN Support - Action plan. If little or no progress is made during the suspension period, the following steps are taken.

  • The setting manager sends a written/electronic invite to the parents, a local authority representative and any relevant external agencies to attend a review meeting. Each attendee must be made aware that the meeting is to avoid the situation escalating further and to find a positive solution.

  • After the meeting the setting manager continues to maintain weekly contact with the parents and local authority to seek a solution.

  • Suitable arrangements offer the parent continued support and advice during the suspension. The setting manager reviews the situation fortnightly and provides their line manager with a monthly update.


In some exceptional circumstances a child may be expelled due to:

  • a termination of their childcare and early education agreement

  • if despite applying a range of interventions (including reasonable adjustments), the setting has been unable to adequately meet the child’s needs or cannot protect the health, safety and well-being of the child and/or others.



Challenging unwanted behaviour from adults in the setting

Settings will not tolerate behaviour from an adult which demonstrates a dislike, prejudice and/or discriminatory attitude or action towards any individual or group.

  • This includes negativity towards groups and individuals living outside the UK (xenophobia). This also applies to the same behaviour if directed towards specific groups of people and individuals who are British Citizens residing in the UK.

  • Allegations of discriminatory remarks or behaviour including xenophobia made in the setting by any adult will be taken seriously. The perpetrator will be asked to stop the behaviour and failure to do so may result in the adult being asked to leave the premises and in the case of a staff member, disciplinary measures being taken.

Where a parent makes discriminatory or prejudiced remarks to staff at any time, or other people while on the premises, this is recorded on the child’s file and is reported to the setting manager. The procedure is explained, and the parent asked to comply while on the premises. An ‘escalatory’ approach will be taken with those who continue to exhibit this behaviour. The second stage comprises a letter to the parent requesting them to sign a written agreement not to make discriminatory remarks or behave in a discriminatory or prejudiced manner; the third stage may be considering withdrawing the child’s place


Children under three years

  • When children under three behave in inconsiderate ways we recognise that strategies for supporting them will need to be developmentally appropriate and differ from those for older children.

  • We recognise that very young children are unable to regulate their own emotions, such as fear, anger, or distress, and require sensitive adults to help them do this.

  • Common inconsiderate or hurtful behaviours of young children include tantrums, biting or fighting.Staff are calm and patient, offering comfort to intense emotions, helping children to manage their feelings and talk about them to help resolve issues and promote understanding.

  • If tantrums, biting, or fighting are frequent, we try to find out the underlying cause - such as a change or upheaval at home, or frequent change of carers. Sometimes a child has not settled in well and the behaviour may be the result of ‘separation anxiety’.

  • We focus on ensuring a child’s attachment figure in the setting, their key person, is building a strong relationship to provide security to the child.



Rough and tumble play and fantasy aggression

Young children often engage in play that has aggressive themes – such as superhero and weapon play; some children appear pre-occupied with these themes, but their behaviour is not necessarily a precursor to hurtful behaviour or bullying, although it may be inconsiderate at times and may need addressing using strategies as above.


  • We recognise that teasing and rough and tumble play are normal for young children and acceptable within limits. We regard these kinds of play as pro-social and not as problematic or aggressive.

  • We will develop strategies to contain play that are agreed with the children, and understood by them, with acceptable behavioural boundaries to ensure children are not hurt.

  • We recognise that fantasy play also contains many violently dramatic strategies, blowing up, shooting etc., and that themes often refer to ‘goodies and baddies’ and as such offer opportunities for us to explore concepts of right and wrong.

  • We are able to tune in to the content of the play, perhaps to suggest alternative strategies for heroes and heroines, making the most of ‘teachable moments’ to encourage empathy and lateral thinking to explore alternative scenarios and strategies for conflict resolution.


Hurtful behaviour

We take hurtful behaviour very seriously. Most children under the age of five will at some stage hurt or say something hurtful to another child, especially if their emotions are high at the time, but it is not helpful to label this behaviour as ‘bullying’. For children under five, hurtful behaviour is momentary, spontaneous, and often without cognisance of the feelings of the person whom they have hurt.


  • We recognise that young children behave in hurtful ways towards others because they have not yet developed the means to manage intense feelings that sometimes overwhelm them.

  • We will help them manage these feelings as they have neither the biological means nor the cognitive means to do this for themselves.

  • We understand that self-management of intense emotions, especially of anger, happens when the brain has developed neurological systems to manage the physiological processes that take place when triggers activate responses of anger or fear.

  • Therefore, we help this process by offering support, calming the child who is angry as well as the one who has been hurt by the behaviour. By helping the child to return to a normal state, we are helping the brain to develop the physiological response system that will help the child be able to manage his or her own feelings.

  • We do not engage in punitive responses to a young child’s rage as that will have the opposite effect.

  • Our way of responding to pre-verbal children is to calm them through holding and cuddling. Verbal children will also respond to cuddling to calm them down, but we offer them an explanation and discuss the incident with them to their level of understanding.

  • We recognise that young children require help in understanding the range of feelings they experience. We help children recognise their feelings by naming them and helping children to express them, making a connection verbally between the event and the feeling. Older children will be able to verbalise their feelings better, talking through themselves the feelings that motivated the behaviour.

  • We help young children learn to empathise with others, understanding that they have feelings too and that their actions impact on others’ feelings. “When you hit Adam, it hurt him, and he didn’t like that and it made him cry.”

  • We help young children develop pro-social behaviour, such as resolving conflict over who has the toy. “I can see you are feeling better now, and Adam isn’t crying any more. Let’s see if we can be friends and find another car, so you can both play with one.”

  • We are aware that the same problem may happen over and over before skills such as sharing and turn-taking develop. In order for both the biological maturation and cognitive development to take place, children will need repeated experiences with problem solving, supported by patient adults and clear boundaries.

  • We support social skills through modelling behaviour, through activities, drama and stories. We build self-esteem and confidence in children, recognising their emotional needs through close and committed relationships with them.

  • We help a child to understand the effect that their hurtful behaviour has had on another child; we do not force children to say sorry, but encourage this where it is clear that they are genuinely sorry and wish to show this to the person they have hurt.

  • When hurtful behaviour becomes problematic, we work with parents to identify the cause and find a solution together. The main reasons for very young children to engage in excessive hurtful behaviour are that:

  • they do not feel securely attached to someone who can interpret and meet their needs – this may be in the home and it may also be in the setting.

  • their parent, or carer in the setting, does not have skills in responding appropriately, and consequently negative patterns are developing where hurtful behaviour is the only response the child has to express feelings of anger.

  • the child may have insufficient language, or mastery of English, to express him or herself and may feel frustrated.

  • the child is exposed to levels of aggressive behaviour at home and may be at risk emotionally or may be experiencing child abuse.

  • the child has a developmental condition that affects how they behave.

  • Where this does not work, we use the Code of Practice to support the child and family, making the appropriate referrals to a Behaviour Support Team where necessary.



We take bullying very seriously. Bullying is a behaviour that both parents and practitioners worry about. Bullying is a deliberate, aggressive and repeated action, which is carried out with intent to cause harm or distress to others. It requires the child to have ‘theory of mind’ and a higher level of reasoning and thinking, all of which are complex skills that most three-year-olds have not yet developed (usually after the age of four along with empathy). Therefore, an outburst by a three-year-old is more likely to be a reflection of the child’s emotional well-being, their stage of development or a behaviour that they have copied from someone else.


Young children are keen observers and more likely to copy behaviours, which mimic the actions of others, especially the actions of people they have established a relationship with. These are learnt behaviours rather than premeditated behaviours because children this young do not have sufficiently sophisticated cognition to carry out the type of bullying an older child can do. Unless addressed early, this type of pre-bullying behaviour in young children can lead on to bullying behaviour later in childhood. The fear is that by labelling a child as a bully so early in life we risk influencing negative perceptions and expectations of the child which will impact on their self-image, self-esteem and may adversely affect their long-term behaviour. This label can stick with the child for the rest of their life.


A child who is bullying has reached a stage of cognitive development where he or she is able to plan to carry out a premeditated intent to cause distress in another.


If a child bullies another child or children:

  • we show the children who have been bullied that we are able to listen to their concerns and act upon them.

  • we intervene to stop the child who is bullying from harming the other child or children.

  • we explain to the child doing the bullying why her/his behaviour is not acceptable.

  • we give reassurance to the child or children who have been bullied.

  • we help the child who has done the bullying to recognise the impact of their actions.

  • we make sure that children who bully receive positive feedback for considerate behaviour and are given opportunities to practise and reflect on considerate behaviour.

  • we do not label children who bully as ‘bullies’.

  • we recognise that children who bully may be experiencing bullying themselves, or be subject to abuse or other circumstance causing them to express their anger in negative ways towards others.

  • we recognise that children who bully are often unable to empathise with others and for this reason we do not insist that they say sorry unless it is clear that they feel genuine remorse for what they have done. Empty apologies are just as hurtful to the bullied child as the original behaviour.

  • we discuss what has happened with the parents of the child who did the bullying and work out with them a plan for handling the child's behaviour; and

  • we share what has happened with the parents of the child who has been bullied, explaining that the child who did the bullying is being helped to adopt more acceptable ways of behaving.


Further guidance


  • Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (DfE 2014)

  • Behaviour Matters (Pre-school Learning Alliance 2016)

  • CIF Summary Record (Pre-school Learning Alliance 2016)


Policy agreed on 14/11/2022

Review date November 2024

bottom of page