Ameliorating conflict situations in the play of preschool children is an issue that may arise at some point in day-to-day teaching practice. How teachers and children are coming to terms with this issue will be revealed. There is an overall emphasis on ways to prevent and contain the behaviour, and a look at why teachers use this approach.
Antisocial play is an issue that is at the forefront of planning in the preschool setting. Behaviour management strategies used by preschool teachers may relate to an inability in applying an effective strategy to a particular incident (Miller, 1984). Effectiveness may be further complicated by sporadic and inconsistent application (Rodd & Holland, 1990), inexperience, lack of consolidation with colleagues, or simply by a belief in a `quick fix' method.
Some antisocial behaviour will always be an aspect of life with young children. Such behaviour can result in disruption to the preschool group and low teacher morale because of incidents of aggression and violence. Social equity in the sociometric status of all children (Gottman, 1983) qualifies the existence of further understanding of what can constitute effective teaching practice.
Access to strategies of the kind used by teachers in the field could serve as a useful insight into its pragmatic function. The process of interpreting theoretical understandings of behaviour management and implementing them in some way is to be explored.
The information supporting this paper came from a survey of state preschool centres in North Queensland, from Cardwell to Bowen. This survey was part of a school-based research project funded by Education Queensland and James Cook University, with the main purpose being identification of the nature of antisocial play behaviour. This information was presented in a paper titled Anti-social Play in the Pre-school: Survey Data on Children's Behaviour and Some Response Strategies in Current Use. Antisocial play is described as throwing equipment, hitting others, using equipment as a weapon, verbal aggression in varying degrees of frequency. The information indicated that the strategies used by teachers in these situations were corrective and coercive options to prevent and contain the behaviour. Evidence clearly suggested that efforts were made to concentrate strategies within the `prevention' sector, rather than employing intervention strategies as a first measure.
From the responses gathered, this paper is able to categorise the strategies used according to generalised principles, and behaviour management strategies in various temporal locations. Generalised principles refer to the planning of the curriculum in terms of preliminary and long-term stages of the year. Behaviour management strategies refer to prevention and intervention. This paper will list these before leading on to a discussion about their implications.
Teacher responses appeared to be grounded within three themes; planning, communication, and the needs of the child.
The survey showed that there were clear guidelines in teacher planning, which is critical during the early stages of a program at a time when the children may find it difficult to share. Activities needed to be planned so that the scheduling of familiar and less complex experiences took place at the beginning of the year. This enabled the teacher to concentrate on the social dynamics of the group. An example of this was the preferred use (by teachers) of a basic home corner--rather than a post office, for instance--something with which the children could easily identify. When introducing a new resource to the children, the teachers generally ensured multiple copies of this same resource, or the inclusion of another resource of high interest. Finally, teacher presence became an issue in certain activity contexts. From the survey, the raw frequency data indicated that unstructured activities such as the sand pit, home corner, and block corner influenced the likelihood of antisocial play occurring. …