Date of Award


Document Type

Non Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education




Early Childhood Education

Capstone Instructor

Cecelia Westby

Second Reader

Carmen Cook


behavior, early childhood education, qualitative study


Challenging behaviors exhibited by young children are common to early childhood environment. How early childhood educators respond to challenging behaviors can have long-term positive or negative effects on children that display challenging behaviors. Often times, early childhood educators are unsure how to best respond to these behaviors. The purpose of this thesis was to discover the effects of different types of teacher responses to challenging behaviors on the children exhibiting the behaviors. The thesis compares teacher responses to occurrences of challenging behaviors in the early childhood setting.

The subjects of this qualitative study were six Head Start children that exhibited challenging behaviors and their teachers. The researcher spent time observing and informally interviewing each dyad over the course of a four-month period.

Narrative text, along with charts and graphs were used to report the findings of the study. Children that received more constructivist types of responses from their teachers were found to have more success with decreasing occurrences of challenging behaviors. It was further discovered that teacher education and quality of interactions related to the decrease or increase of a child's challenging behaviors.


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