The University of Texas at Austin Child Development Centers uses positive guidance methods in order to help children learn self-control and self-direction without loss of self-esteem. The centers encourages children to use words to solve problems with others. A balanced schedule of activities suited to your child’s development, and a positive environment promotes cooperation. The center uses a variety of methods to encourage children’s cooperation, including the clear statement of limits in positive terms, redirection, choices between acceptable behaviors, and positive reinforcement through praise and encouragement of good behavior. Teachers work closely with parents to understand each child and to determine which methods work best for him or her.
Discipline is based on an understanding of each child’s individual needs and level of development. When correcting a child’s behavior, the caregiver’s response is individualized and consistent for each child, appropriate to the child’s level of understanding, and directed toward teaching the child acceptable behavior and self-control. When a child repeats a challenging behavior, the center uses a variety of methods for encouraging cooperation. These include the positive methods described above, and conferencing with other staff, parents, and center administration. The center makes every effort to understand children’s needs and modify classroom practices so each child is successful. Staff members anticipate problems and plan to prevent them by maintaining an appropriate learning environment.
As stated in the DPRS licensing standards, there must be no harsh, cruel, or unusual treatment. As such, the Child Development Center’s guidelines entail the following:
- Corporal punishment (see Compliant Procedures) or threats of corporal punishment is prohibited.
- Children must not be shaken, bitten, hit, or have anything put in or on their mouth as punishment.
- Children must not be humiliated, yelled at, or rejected.
- Children must not be subjected to abusive or profane language.
- Punishment must not be associated with food, naps, or toilet-training.
- Bed-wetters must not be shamed or punished.
- Staff may use brief, supervised separation from the group if necessary, but staff must not place children in a locked room or in a dark room with the door closed.
- Withholding active play or keeping a child inside as a consequence for behavior, unless the child is exhibiting behavior during active play that requires a brief supervised separation or time out that is consistent with other child care regulation requirements for methods of discipline and guidance.
- Requiring a child to remain silent or inactive for inappropriately long periods of time for the child's age, including requiring a child to remain in a restrictive device.
Children with Challenging Behaviors
If an enrolled child exhibits behavior that compromise the safety and health of children and/or staff or disrupts the program to the extent that it fundamentally changes the nature of the program and expected services to children and families, UTCDC will coordinate a meeting.
Example of behavior that might result in such a meeting being called include:
- Established pattern of physical behavior that hurts others, such as hitting, biting (older children), kicking, and/or throwing classroom furniture, equipment or materials.
- Established pattern of running, screaming or yelling in the classroom
- Established pattern of destroying program equipment and or materials
- Established pattern that prevents the teaching staff from implementing curriculum
- Established pattern of running away despite efforts of prevention
The purpose of the meeting will be for teachers and/or administrators to meet with parents and others who are involved in the care or providing services to the child to share information and develop a plan to address the concerns.
Plans may include:
- Creating a behavior modification plan
- Recommending an evaluation
- Implementing recommendations from an evaluation or therapist
- Moving to a different class or age group
- Modifying the classroom environment
- Specialized training for the teaching staff
Excluding Children from Care
Every effort is made to mitigate issues of safety and disruption to the program for each and every child. If a child, despite efforts, continues to pose a direct safety or health risk to children or adults, or causes disruptions that would require regular one-to-one care for periods of time during care, the child in question may be excluded from care (examples of exclusion are below). If a child requires one-to-one care in order to participate in the program on an ongoing basis, parents may provide a personal assistant approved by the UTCDC, at their expense, or to arrange a personal assistant through a government program.
Exclusion from care may include:
- Being removed from the class for short amounts of time if a teacher or administrator is available. This may include the child taking a walk around the school, spending time in the office or hallway with an alternative activity.
- Being sent home for the remainder of the day if displayed behaviors are not manageable
- Withdrawing enrollment temporarily until a solution to mitigate risk and/or disruption can be implemented
- Withdrawing enrollment permanently