Supporting Children's Behavior

With adult support, infants and toddlers can learn how to express themselves in positive ways 

child following directions with musical toy

At a Glance

Infants and toddlers rely on behavior to express themselves and communicate with others. Educators play the important role of external regulators for young children. When adults tune in to children’s behavior, they can respond to children’s needs and help children express themselves in positive ways.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at how you can help infants and toddlers express themselves positive ways

Provide Effective Instructions

Give simple and clear instructions that focus children’s attention on what to do, rather than what not to do. When this educator says, “Get down please,” the young child is able to adjust her behavior and use the bike safely.

Offer Choices

Provide options whenever possible, like this educator does by placing various activities around the room. This gives children a say in what they can do and minimizes potential conflicts that may arise when children have to share or wait turns.

Use Cues

Use simple cues, like lights and songs, to signal that it’s time to transition. These help children prepare to move on from one activity to the next and remind children of important steps or directions.


Hands Can

Hands Can, written by Cheryl Willis Hudson and illustrated by John-Francis Bourke, features repetitive text and photographs of real children to highlight positive ways to use our hands.

hands can cover


Apply a Trauma-Informed Lens

This practical guide from the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health offers strategies to apply a trauma-informed lens to support children’s behavior in the classroom.


Support Families to Manage Behaviors

Dr. Rosemarie Allen from the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations talks with two mothers about their experiences with school suspension.


Culturally Appropriate Guidance

In this webinar, Dr. Ercan offers transformative, yet practical ways educators can start to understand children’s cultural backgrounds to support behavior in the classroom.

Activity Cards for Infant and Toddler Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can help children to practice focusing their attention, movements, and behavior.
Move and regulate


Encourage children to engage in various movements and “freeze” when you call out.



Practice concentration and coordination by squeezing water into buckets.

Rise Up
Breathe it out

Breathing: Rise Up

Use breathing exercises to help children calm down and develop body awareness.

breathe and move

Yoga: Animal Poses

Calm down by connecting movement with breath in an animal yoga flow.


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of the Core Skills