Lockdown in NSW again…

Home Schooling? Spending 24/7 with your kids?

Are you already rolling your eyes, abit apprehensive and frustrated that you have to do your own work, housework and still have to teach and look after your kids?Are you longing for lockdown to be over just so you can go back to work?

Be honest. You’re not alone.

We all need space and time away from our kids, no matter how much we love them.

ACTVoices – Supporting Parents/Carers can help you with home schooling in the primary years and with your kids in the early childhood years.

WE LOVE… kids, being around them, teaching them.

YOU NEED… to keep your sanity; to balance your work, family and personal life; to have a positive mental health so you can have positive interactions with your family.

You don’t need to feel guilty. That’s what our job is. Your chosen occupation doesn’t involve being around children for extended periods of time, so we get it, and you should get it too. Let us support you during this time of extended time with your kids.


We are only supporting a small group of families dependent on location, so get in quick and contact us.

Self-esteem and Self-efficacy and How to Build Each One

Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy – The Link With Building Your Mental Health

The following ‘self’ words are all important in contributing to a growing positive wellbeing and identity – The foundations for life.

When you work on your self-esteem and self-efficacy, you are building your socio-emotional wellbeing, that is, your mental health. This all contributes to developing your self-concept– an accurate self-concept.

BUT HOW???? Continue reading…


~ Feelings of self-worth and self-value. 

~ An overall evaluation of oneself. 

~ High self-esteem is having a good self image. Ie. self-esteem is like a mirror where you see your own qualities. 

~ Low self-esteem is not realising your potential, which translates to poor self-confidence.

REFLECT… When you look through the mirror, what qualities do you see? 
REFLECT… Define  your potential? Have you lived up to your potential? What can you do to see your potential being realised?
What you can do to build your self-esteem 

~ Limit negative self-talk, self-criticism and labels. 

~ Increase focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. 

~ Give yourself a break.

~ Practise saying ‘no’. 

~ Look after your physical health. 

REFLECT… Which one/s can you focus on today to build a positive self-esteem?
REFLECT… Which one/s can you use to help someone else build their self-esteem?

Orange needle on Master level on experience levels speedmeter


~ Belief in your capacity or competence to handle, perform and succeed at tasks. 

~ Self-efficacy varies from one situation/activity to another. 

~ It builds up as you go on learning and mastering different abilities in life. 

REFLECT… What tasks/situations/activities are you still growing in and learning? Which ones are you going to continue to work on?
REFLECT… Which situations/activities have you mastered? How can you use your mastery to help/support someone else?
What you can do to build your self-efficacy

~ Set some goals that are easier to achieve so you can develop confidence and the belief in your capabilities. 

~ Have other goals that will challenge and stretch you so you will develop your learning and grow in mastery. 

~ Avoid comparisons. Run your own race. Be proud of what you can do and what you have achieved.

REFLECT… What have you achieved thus far in your life – personal, professional?
REFLECT… What is one goal you can set for yourself that can bless someone else and their life?
Make your mental health a priority - unique vector hand drawn inspirational, positive quote for persons suffering from personality disorder and Awareness Month. Phrase for posters, t-shirts, wall art.
Improve your mental health as you focus on building your socio-emotional wellbeing. 
To shape a confident IDENTITY, you need to…
Build your EMOTIONAL WELLBEING, through developing a high…
Self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept

Click here (Part 1 and Part 2) to read more about the importance of building your self-concept and how you can improve your mental health through developing your self-concept.

At ACTVoices we can help you with your self-esteem and self-efficacy. As you grow in these two areas, you are building your self-concept – an accurate self concept. Contact Us now. 



Grow In A ‘Learning Community’ Part 1

Build Your Self Concept and Improve Your Mental Health – Collaboration

Community concept - pictogram showing figures happy family

Improve your mental health as you focus on building your socio-emotional wellbeing, which includes developing your self-concept. Self-esteem and self-efficacy are just the foundations. You can actively improve your mental health by growing in a ‘learning community’.

Self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept

What is your self concept? 

~ A combo of self-esteem and self-efficacy. 

~ Belief about yourself. 

~ A factual description of how you perceive yourself, whether it may be true or not. 

~ If your perception is distorted, this description may not be an accurate depiction of you, but it IS an accurate statement of what you believe about yourself.

REFLECT… Write down your perceptions of yourself.
REFLECT… Now write down a factual description of yourself.

Color handprint background concept, human hand print illustration for kid education, school learning or diverse community help. EPS10 vector.

Grow in your ‘learning community’. 

What you can do to build your self-concept

To grow in a ‘learning community’ work on 2 major skills… 

~ Collaboration. 

~ Reflective practice.


Macro photo of tooth wheel mechanism with COLLABORATION, EXCHANGE, TRUST, ASSIST, GOAL, SUCCESS and INSPIRATION concept words

To develop your self concept, COLLABORATE! 

Build and grow in a ‘learning community’. 

You can’t grow alone, so gather people around you to learn from and who can pour into your life. They also need your wisdom and life experiences, and so you can fill them up. 

REFLECT… Who will you include in your ‘community’? Who will you exclude from your ‘community?
Building a ‘learning community’ includes 4 ingredients… 

Grunge black encourage word round rubber seal stamp on white background1. Encouraging, supporting and being there for each other. 

To be there for your family includes encouraging, supporting and being there for one another to help each other learn, develop, and grow. To be there for your ‘community’, who is also learning and growing with you also entails encouraging, supporting, and being present for each other. 

REFLECT… As I asked before, who will you exclude from your ‘learning community’? This is an important question that you need to clarify so you can learn more, develop wider and grow further.

Feedback Constructive Insightful Actionable Puzzle 3d Illustration2. Engaging in honest and constructive feedback. 

You need people in your life to be honest with you. To tell you what you don’t want to hear to help you grow. To give you reflective insights about your life to help you self-reflect, and change things in your life. 

REFLECT… What honest feedback can you give yourself?
REFLECT… What feedback can you give someone in your ‘learning community’ to help them develop in their skills – to grow in some area of their life? 
As you do this, you will help each other develop accurate beliefs about yourselves (ie. your self-concept).

Business Team Success, Achievement Concept. Flat People Characters with Prize, Golden Cup. Office Workers Celebrating with Big Trophy. Vector illustration3. Celebrating success in its many forms – small and big wins, stepping stones and just each other. 

Just as we celebrate children’s birthdays, performances or participation in concerts, when they win a competition, when they get the award for being the best helper and the award for the highest marks, we need to celebrate the people in our ‘community’ and celebrate together with them.

We need to celebrate the people in our ‘learning community’ and celebrate with themDon’t forget to celebrate each other… just because! 

Do you really need to have a reason? 

But, if you do need a reason, then celebrate… 

~ The successful performance, engagement and participation on that last outing or work meeting. 

~ The routine that you got through without screaming, crying, getting angry. 

~ Being on time. Getting things done on time. 

~ The new promotion, job, home. 

Whatever is worth being celebrated, big or small… share it with your ‘community’. Let them share in your joy.

REFLECT… When was the last time you celebrated someone or something with your ‘community’? Isn’t it about time you celebrated yourself and/or others for the big and small things you have achieved? When will you start?
REFLECT… Remember, your ‘community of learners’ does not include your children. It is your ‘learning community’ where you and others learn from, support and help each other; and grow and CELEBRATE one another… together.

Handwriting text writing Don t not Compare Yourself To Others. Concept meaning Be your own version unique original Megaphone loudspeaker screaming turquoise background frame speech bubble.
. Avoiding comparisons.

Each person comes with their own gifts, talents and character traits that bring with it amazing results and influence, whether big or small, and leaves short and long term effects. You don’t need to compare yourself to others because you were made for different plans and purposes in life.

REFLECT… The last point in building your ‘learning community’. Comparison can be a killer. A killer of joy, perspective, reality. Make sure, you stay joyful, maintain the right and correct perspective and reality, not a distorted perception of yourself or your achievements.

You may look the same, do the same things, have the same goals. BUT… each of you have been made for different plans and purposes. Run your own race and run it with all your heart! Remember, it’s not how much, how high, how long… it’s the heart and how much of your heart you have put into what you do.

REFLECT… Don’t get side tracked from your goals, plans and purposes by looking left and right at what others are doing, have achieved or are pursuing. Keep looking ahead and continue to work towards your goals, plans and purposes.

“Comparison is the thief of joy and the stretcher of truth. Comparison says, “I am ill-equipped for the task at hand.” The truth is God has given me everything I need for the plans he has set before me”. (Unknown source/author).

REFLECT… Keep your joy and peace by minding your own business. What I mean is, looking after and ‘minding’/taking care of your own life, goals, plans.
Don’t mind the ‘business’ of what another person is doing, has done, looks like etc. Avoid comparing yourself.

As we find our confidence in other people’s approval rather than finding it in God, we are comparing ourselves. “God created us all for a distinct purpose. When we have confidence in our God-given purpose we don’t feel the need to compare ourselves to others or seek their approval”. (Unknown source/author).

REFLECT… Do I need to add anymore? Except to say, remember, don’t compare yourself to others. When you don’t compare then you are building an accurate self concept that will lead to a better, more positive mental health.

Paper doll people holding hands

Remember, to develop your self concept grow in your ‘learning community’. 

To do this, work on 2 major skills…

~ Collaboration: Is about building and growing in your ‘learning community’. 

~ Reflective practice: Is about maintaining the growth of the ‘community’ and growing further through reflection.

To read about this second major skill, click here


Grow In A ‘Learning Community’ Part 2

Build Your Self Concept and Improve Your Mental Health – Reflective Practice

Creative business team stacking hands together in office

Remember, to develop your self concept grow in your ‘learning community’. To do this, work on 2 major skills…

~ Collaboration: Is about growing in your ‘learning community’. (To read about this again, click here)

~ Reflective practice: Is about maintaining the growth of the ‘community’ and growing further through reflection.


Grow in your ‘learning community’. 

Paper people on the grey wooden background

In this post, we look at the second way to grow in your ‘learning community’ that will help you build an accurate self-concept, which helps improve your mental health.

You can’t grow alone, so gather people around you to learn from and who can pour into your life. They also need your wisdom and life experiences, and so you can fill them up. 

REFLECT word written on wooden

To develop your self concept, engage in REFLECTIVE PRACTICE

This incorporates holistic reflection, and includes both self-reflection and collaborative reflection.

Business Concept writing SELF REFLECTION on Blackboard SELF-REFLECTION

Reflecting by yourself, about yourself

AND a specific environment. 

AND the people affected or involved.

Concept of sharing skills to find a solution, with two men face to face who collaborate to find an idea.COLLABORATIVE RELFECTION

 Reflecting together with the people in your ‘learning community’ about yourself.

AND a specific environment. 

AND the people affected or involved.

Building a ‘learning community’ through reflective practice includes reflecting on yourself AND the environment AND others in combination with each other. 

Holistic reflection is important because people AND the environment AND others affected or involved are INTERRELATED and each has an effect on the other. One area alone cannot be interpreted or changed without having an influence on another area. Thus, you need to reflect alone and with others, so you can take the perspective of and understand all 3 areas.


*To develop your self concept, engage in REFLECTIVE PRACTICE!

This includes, HOLISTIC REFLECTION. Holistic reflection is important because you AND the environment AND others affected/involved are INTERRELATED and each has an effect on the other.

One area alone cannot be interpreted or changed without having an influence on another area.

Thus, you need to reflect alone and with others, so you can take the perspective of and understand all 3 areas.


*When you engage in holistic reflection, you will get transformational change.

This includes… ~Changing the culture of the setting (e.g. home, work).

~Influencing, pervading, and positively transforming every area.

It is a change that… ~ Is long lasting. ~ Takes place over a period of time. >>>>So, how do you get transformational change?


*To get transformational change and develop your self concept,

Engage in holistic reflection through SELF REFLECTION AND COLLABORATIVE REFLECTION

To facilitate any kind of change: observe, interpret and reflect .


Man's hand with concept of new or next normal digital transform in industry business, disrupt from coronavirus, covid crisis impact to small business or SME. Turn to next normal in financial concept.


When you engage in holistic reflection, you will get transformational change.



Holistic reflection of you…

AND the environment. (E.g., the work/classroom/home environment).

AND the people affected or involved in your life, your ‘learning community’ and/or in that particular environment .

To facilitate any kind of change: observe, interpret and reflect .

Reflection… observe, interpret and reflect.


~ Enable you to look back, reassess and understand actions, words and behaviour.

~ Identify ways to improve and how to do it differently.

~ Provide clarity, new perspectives and possibilities for the future.

REFLECT…What do You Want to Change words letter, written on paper, work desk top view. Motivational business typography quotes concept


Aspects of your environment?

Culture, interactions in your enviro?


When you reflect (self and collaborative), you are initiating and inspiring transformational change.

This results in changing the setting’s (e.g., home/work) culture. In doing so, influencing, pervading, and positively transforming every area including you AND the environment AND other people.

It is a change that is long lasting and takes place over a period of time.

Transformational change allows for personal growth. Growth that will empower you. Empowerment to use your ‘voice’ and have your ‘voice’ heard. Empowerment to overcome challenges encountered with more skill and knowledge.

Developing relationship concept: Construction machines building up with letters the word relationship, isolated on white background.

If you want to change things, change people, change you THEN… focus on relationships. Relationships with children, with colleagues with families/carers, with people in your ‘learning community’. 

Form genuine relationships built on sincerity, respect, kindness and care, and the door is open for change to occur.

REFLECT… Which relationships are important to you? Why?
REFLECT… Which relationships do you want to change? What changes do you want to see?
REFLECT… Do you need to change? Or does the other person need to change? Or do both of you need to change?

merger icon, illustration, concept vector template Teachers AND children have an impact on each other, as does parents/carers AND children. 

ALSO the environment (emotional, organisational and physical) have an impact on teachers/children, as well as parents/children. 

So, if you change any one of these areas it will have an effect on the other.

REFLECT… What do you want? What do you want to change? 

Once you have clarified what you want and what you want to change, then you can seek help, support and information. Then you will see change start to occur.

REFLECT… Observe, interpret, reflect on each of the 3 areas and their interaction with one another.

How do you, the environment, and the people affected or involved interact with each other?

~ THEN make changes in one area, and observe the changes, interpret, and reflect how it is impacting on the other 2 areas.

~ THEN take the perspective of another area AND ‘observe-interpret-reflect’ again.

~ Repeat the process with the 3rd area. 


What Do All These ‘Self’ Words Mean?

The following ‘self’ words are all important in contributing to a growing positive wellbeing and identity – The foundations for life.

To shape a confident IDENTITY, you need to…
To build your EMOTIONAL WELLBEING, through developing a high…
Self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept

~ Also known as self-worth and self-value, self-esteem incorporates feelings of self-worth and value .

~ An overall evaluation of oneself.

~ High self-esteem is having a good self image. Ie. self-esteem is like a mirror where you see your own qualities.

~ Low self-esteem is not realising one’s potential, which translates to poor self-confidence.

~ To develop self-esteem limit negative self-talk, self-criticism and labels. Increase focus on strengths, rather than weaknesses.



~ Belief in one’s self-worth and likelihood in succeeding.


Self esteem is a permanent internal feeling while self efficacy is a feeling that depends upon the performance at hand.



~ Belief in one’s capacity or competence to handle, perform and succeed at tasks.

~ Eg. completing a puzzle, dressing independently, studying. Self-efficacy varies from one situation/activity to another.

~ It builds up as you go on learning and mastering different abilities in life.

~ To encourage self-efficacy skills allow them to make decisions for themselves and include them in decision-making with you.



~ Belief about oneself.

~ Is a factual description of how you perceive yourself, whether it may be true or not.

~ If your perception is distorted, this description may not be an accurate depiction of you, but it IS an accurate statement of what you believe about yourself.

~ People with a good self-esteem and self-efficacy are often able to recognize their limitations without a judgment attached.


It is possible to have low self-esteem and yet have high self-efficacy, often seen with perfectionists.

Ie. Someone may tend to be overly-critical and negative about oneself and yet see themselves as quite capable in certain areas.

For instance, they might see themselves as uninteresting and unlikeable but see themselves as a competent speller.

But the first step you need to take is FINDING YOUR ‘VOICE’, that is, feeling empowered to speak up.

This will heighten your view of yourself, knowing that you can and do make a difference. This empowered voice will show you that your voice is valued. This voice developing your self-worth/esteem (Read above about this concept).


Empowering Children’s, Parents’ and Teachers’ Voices

Being listened to, respected and valued


Building One’s Emotional Wellbeing

High self-esteem + self-efficacy = Accurate self-concept


Shaping Children’s Identity

I accept myself for ‘who I am’

Then we have… Strengthened Foundations


If you want to make a change and clearly know who you are and why you are here,  or if you want to deal with your mental health, or if you just want to know more, contact us.

© Tirzah Lim 2017

Partnering with Families and Children

‘Family Stories’ – Understanding These ‘Stories’ to Support Wellbeing

Preview Changes (opens in a new tab)

The social-emotional wellbeing of children has a major impact on overall growth and development, including academic skills. Most importantly, children’s developing self-esteem and confidence influences the development of a positive and secure sense-of-self and identity, which contributes to their wellbeing (11,23).

The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Framework (NQF) have both acknowledged the importance of a positive social-emotional wellbeing. They emphasise the role teachers have and in  developing a collaborative relationship between teachers, children and their family to support the wellbeing of all (7,23).

‘Family Stories’

To work with families effectively and build collaborative partnerships ‘FAMILY STORIES’ need to be acknowledged and respected – their voices need to be shared and heard.

‘Family stories’ include experiences in varying contexts (such as in the home, cultural/religious places) in interaction with various family members, friends and others. It also includes family experiences in professional intervention (such as speech therapy) or medical contexts.

Understanding these ‘family stories’ widens and informs teachers’ knowledge and understanding of contextual issues and factors that could be influencing the family and children (10). In turn, this informs teacher practices that can support children in developing a secure and positive emotional development. As a result, supporting both children’s and the family’s wellbeing and mental health.

The Effect of Labels and Stigma – Importance of Collaborative Partneships

Partnerships that focus on interpersonal relationships and the idea of interdependence creates more positive, trusting and effective relationships (24). This has been found to lead to families being more involved in their children’s education, which results in both the positive wellbeing of children and their family (7,23).

Unfortunately, experiencing mental health issues, whether by children or their family, can lead to labels being applied. This can then result in stigma being formed in various contexts and in different relationships including informally (among society, friends and family) and in more formal contexts (such as in early childhood services) (5,9).

Even more, labels and stigma have been found to hinder families from seeking help – one of the reasons for about a quarter of families not seeking professional intervention (1,5,9). A finding that impacts immediate and future development and wellbeing.

Teachers have an important role in assisting to reconstruct labels and stigmas as they become the bridge for families to connect them to professional or medical support, while also addressing these issues through play and discussion during the day with the children.

Reflecting on Professional Intervention Practices and How it Informs Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices

Taking research around oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) as a focus for reflection around social-emotional wellbeing, we can also reflect on how this research can inform teachers’ beliefs and practices.

Findings from various ODD intervention studies (17,19) have focused around access and utilisation of services, among other areas. It was found that there were multiple barriers to service access including the following,

  • Stressors and obstacles (e.g. illness and transportation to the service).
  • Treatment demands (e.g. the length and commitment of treatment at the service).
  • Perceived relevance.
  • Parental and contextual factors (e.g. being a single-parent family, neighbourhood, parenting style, maternal depression).

Bernal et al. (3) agree with these findings, and further supports the emphasis by Lavigne et al. (19)  on the importance of culture and ethnicity, pointing out the necessity to consider and develop culturally sensitive interventions.

  • The main points identified by Bernal was the call for a reflection on the differences in values that the mainstream culture has on already developed interventions.
        • That is, interventions that have been employed to assist families from diverse backgrounds who hold different, and sometimes opposite cultural values, such as interdependence and ‘familialism’ – values that are of high importance and a part of many cultures.
  • When interventions and relationships did not consider various elements, such as language-appropriateness, client-therapist relationship and the importance of the therapist in understanding the values, beliefs and customs families found the intervention ineffective and unsupportive to their needs and goals.

In the same way, when teachers’ relationships with children and families do not consider these cultural elements this has been found to affect the support that families receive and feel that they receive or need. This is because the attitudes that teachers hold will affect how they will engage with and respond to families, and thus the type of support and relationship they develop with families.

However, when teachers take the time to listen to families’ stories and acknowledge, embrace and respect these various cultural elements in their personal interactions, as well as in the program and setting approaches, relationships and collaborative partnerships can be built between families, teachers and early childhood (EC) service.

Implications for Teachers and EC Services

Based on various research of ODD intervention approaches, the following are recommendations for teaching practice and strategies to support children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

* Build relationships with children by getting to know the charisma and character of each child, as well as their strengths, areas of need, dis/likes –  that is, the uniqueness of each child.

        • Consider and include this knowledge of each child when setting up a structured, but flexible routine, which will provide for an environment that is predictable and supportive. This will build the foundation for a partnership that honours and respects the child and the family (2,4,14,18).

*Arrange the environment and provide a program that considers the various interests, skill levels and learning styles of each child.

        • This includes a varied level of challenge and different approaches to learning. In addition, activities that require the use of executive functioning skills (ie. cognitive self-regulation), such as problem-solving and working memory. In this way, children are given opportunities to practice skills that enable them to be aware of their own emotions and how to express them effectively (8,14,16).

*Create environments that positively encourage and acknowledge children for their efforts in relation to all areas, including their efforts in emotional situations.

        • Rather than reprimand or discipline, teachers can use these times as moments to collaboratively work together with children to solve problems they encounter.
        • Take advantage of the ‘teachable moments’. These are moments to develop skills, but also to build strong relationships with the children to contribute to the positive wellbeing (12,13,14,23).
        • Don’t react to behaviour. Instead, be proactive in identifying possible areas children need support in, and walk with children in their need.

*Reconstruct labels and stigma using  Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) (6,20).

        • This enables all children to learn about and respect the different ways they can communicate, and understand how others communicate differently and in various situations and contexts.
        • By learning alternate ways to communicate, such as using Key Word Sign, music and other art forms this creates a sense of community within the class, which is an important strategy that builds relationships and creates a sense of belonging and empowerment (4,7,18).

*Use of ‘bibliotherapy’ that uses literature as a strategy – that is, the story is used as a focal point for learning. In doing so, it allows children to be detached from reality and provides for more open discussion about their own feeling and emotions.

        • They can connect with characters in the story and then apply the  generated alternative responses to their own lives (15,21).
        • From the literature used, children can also use these scenarios for role-play and other imaginative play opportunities where the ‘what-if’ provides a place where they can escape reality and be whatever and whomever they want to be. That is, where they can be control (22). In this way, they extend on their skills, understand their own and others’ emotions, and in the process build their social and emotional wellbeing.

*Support and facilitate joint decision-making with families. This is an important part of supporting children’s social-emotional wellbeing.

        • Have families involved in developing the program. This will result in positive outcomes for the collaborative nature of the partnership and for their child in also being more involved in the decision-making process of the program (4).
        • Invite families to share their talents and interests, such as art, music and sports to create a sense of community where children and families are likely to feel more open and welcome to participate and engage in the EC service and in their child’s education. This in turn builds more collaborative relationships between families and teachers.



(1) Allday, R.A., Duhon, G.J., Blackburn-Ellis, S., & Van Dyke, J.L. (2011). The biasing effects of labels on direct observation by preservice teachers. Teacher Education & Special Education, 34(1), 52-58.

(2) Bagdi, A., & Vacca, J. (2005). Supporting early childhood social-emotional wellbeing: The building blocks for early learning and school success. Early Childhood Education Journal 33(3), 145-150.

(3) Bernal, G., & Saez-Santiago, E. (2006). Culturally centred psychosocial interventions. Journal of Community Psychology,34(2), 121-132.

(4) Commonwealth of Australia (CoA). (2012a). Kids matter early childhood component 1: Creating a sense of community. Literature view.

(5) Commonwealth of Australia (CoA). (2012b). Kids matter early childhood component 4: Helping children who are experiencing mental health difficulties. Literature view.

(6) Cress, C.J., & Marving, C.A. (2003). Common questions about AAC services in early intervention. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19(4), 254-272.

(7) Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations (DEEWR). (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia.

(8) Dunsmore, J.C., Booker, J.A., & Ollendick, T.H. (2013). Parental emotion coaching and child emotion regulation as protective factors for children with oppositional defiant disorder. Social Development, 22(3), 444-466.

(9) Graham, A., Phelps, R., Maddison, C., & Fitzgerald, R. (2011). Supporting children’s mental health in schools: Teacher views. Teachers and Teaching: Theory & Practice, 17(4), 479-496.

(10) Grace, R. (2013). Developmental disability. In J. Bowes & R. Grace (Eds.), Children families and communities: Contexts and consequences (4th ed., pp.39-57). South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

(11) Green, B.L., Malsch, A.M., Kothari, B.H., Busse, J., & Brennan, E. (2012). An intervention to increase early childhood staff capacity for promoting children’s social-emotional development in preschool settings. Early Childhood Education, 40(2), 123-132.

(12) Greene, R.W., Ablon, J.S., & Goring, J.C. (2003). A transactional model of oppositional behaviour: Underpinnings of the collaborative problem solving approach. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 55(1), 67-75.

(13) Greene, R., Doyle, A. (1999). Toward a transactional conceptualisation of oppositional defiant disorder: Implications for assessment and treatment. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2(3), 129-148.

(14) Hemmeter, M.L., Osttrosky, M., & Fox, L. (2006). Social and emotional foundations for early learning: A conceptual model for intervention. School Psychology Review, 35(4), 583-601.

(15) Iaquinta, A., & Hipsky, S. (2006). Practical bibliotherapy strategies for the inclusive elementary classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 34(3), 209-213.

(16) Katz, L., & Windecker-Nelson, B. (2004). Parental meta-emotion philosophy in families with conduct-problem children: Links with peer relations.

(17) Koerting, J., Smith, E., Knowles, M., Latter, S., McCann, D., Thompson, M., & Sonuga-Barke, E. (2013). Barriers to, and facilitators of, parenting programmes for childhood behaviour problems: A qualitative synthesis of sutides of parents’ and professionals’ perceptions. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 22(11), 653-670.

(18) Lanza, H.I., & Drabick, D.A.G. (2011). Family routine moderates the relation between child impulsivity and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39(1), 83-94.

(19) Lavigne, J.V., Lebailly, S.A., Gouze, K.R., Binns, H.J., Keller, J., & Pate, L. (2010). Predictors and correlates of completing behavioural parental training for the treatment of oppositional defiant disorder in paediatric primary care. Behaviour Therapy, 41(2), 198-211.

(20) Orsati, F.T., & Causton-Theoharis, J. (2013). Challenging control: Inclusive teachers’ and teaching assistants’ discourse on students with challenging behaviour. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(5), 507-525.

(21) Santos, R.M., Fettig, A., & Shaffer, L. (2012). Helping families connect early literacy with social-emotional development. Young Children, 67(2), 88-93.

(22) Steeves, P. (2006). Sliding doors – Opening our world. Equity & Excellence in Education, 39, 105-114.

(23) Temple, E., & Emmett, S. (2013). Promoting the development of children’s emotional and social wellbeing in early childhood settings: How can we enhance the capability of educators to fulfil role expectations? Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38(1), 66-72.

(24) Williams, T.T., Sanchez, B., & Hunnell, J. (2011). Aligning theory and practice: Understanding school-family partnerships at an inner-city high school. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(5), 689-697.

© Tirzah Lim 2017

Why Talk? – How You Can Improve Self-Regulation Skills

Talking and the Link with Self-Regulation Skills… That Empowers Children’s Voice

Self-Regulation Skills….

Self-regulation skills are an important developmental skill that has an accumulating influence and effect on various areas of children’s development, including their self-esteem and self-worth, which builds their social-emotional wellbeing and self-identity.

By empowering children with their voice through facilitating intentional talk and conversational opportunities, this stimulates their growth of self-regulatory skills. It also supports their literacy and language development, among other developmental areas.

The Importance of Intentional Talk and Conversations


~ When children utilise expressive/verbal language skills, they learn about sentence structure, meaning of words in context, turn-taking in conversation and pragmatics (3).

      • These skills are the foundation of other language forms and development, including reading and writing.
      • The best way to learn these skills is through talking, particularly intentional and conversational talk.

~ When children have higher emotional self-regulatory skills, this allows them to understand societal rules and behaviour, which leads them to monitoring their own actions (1).

      • This takes children to the level of internalising their self-regulation, which is what we want for all children’s self-regulation skills to reach.
      • However, before reaching the point they can internalise their self-regulation, children are externally regulating their emotions (2).
      • This means they need adult support to help them to self-regulate (2).
          • Teachers can facilitate this area of development through various means such as the following strategies.


Engage WITH children in the following experiences:

~ Narrative and play literacy experiences, combined with drama elements for extension. Eg. improvisation, storytelling and puppetry.

~ Sociodramatic play with teachers and peers.

~ Process drama

      • Teachers use a teacher-in-role (TIR) technique to begin a drama/sociodramatic experience. They adopt a submissive role, then during the experience they work alongside the children – questioning, encouraging, developing and/or steering the drama while remaining in-role.
      • E.g. The teacher could be the new fire-fighter en-route to an emergency with the ‘expert’ children fire-fighters.

~ Ask open-ended, thought-provoking / inquiry-based questions, rather than close-ended questions.


INITIATE conversations and/or ENGAGE IN conversations with children.

~ At mealtimes – Have conversations about what they are eating and extend on it by talking about what they like to eat. Other topics to talk about that go beyond the present include, what they enjoyed doing during the day, what they did yesterday or what they will do over the weekend, and how’s their day going (reflecting on their feelings and thoughts of the day).

~ When children need a break, because they are getting a bit too energetic, break up the day with some ‘quiet time’.

      • ‘Quiet time’ is a time where children can get into small groups in a relaxed mood/setting, and have little conversations – recalling past events, predicting future events (such as what they will do tomorrow or on their planned holiday) and/or narrating imagined stories to each other.
So why all this talking? What’s really taking place?

When Children Talk Beyond Their Immediate Context They…

~ Develop ‘decontextualised language’. That is, they talk about and explain events in the past and future, which allows them to wonder and imagine about ideas.

~ Develop their verbal language skills and increase their vocabulary.

~ Develop skills that will contribute later to their writing, both for creative and more formal purposes.

~ When children narrate stories and love to have ‘chats’, they also develop more self-confidence as they learn more social skills and grow in their social-emotional skills and wellbeing (3).

~ Use higher-level thinking skills such as, suggestions and prediction as they answer open-ended questions posed to them. This sparks curiosity that contributes to their cognitive development (4).

When Teachers Have Conversations & Talk With Children… (3)

~ Teachers can model language, including grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary.

~ Teachers can model self-regulatory processing skills.

~ Children learn empathy as they see others have different thoughts, feelings and experiences than themselves.

~ Children develop a sense of belonging and being as they develop trusting relationships with adults and peers through the conversations they have with each other. This all contributes to more self-confidence and positive social-emotional wellbeing.

As a result, children are empowered with their voice! They use their voice/words to speak out, and in doing so, are empowered and realise that their voice can and has the right to be listened to and respected by both their peers and adults.


To read more about how to use language as a means to promote self-regulatory skills through other areas in the program, how it supports the growth in other areas of development, and to know more benefits beyond those listed here, refer to the reading by:

(3) Test J.E., Cunningham, D.D., & Lee, A.C. (2010). Talking with young children: How teachers encourage learning. Dimensions of Early Childhood, 38(3), 3-14. From: http://southernearlychildhood.org/upload/pdf/Talking_With_Young_Children.pdf



(1) Willis, E., & Dinehart, L.H. (2014). Contemplative practices in early childhood: Implications for self-regulation skills and school readiness. Early Child Development and Care, 184(4),487-499. doi: 10.1080/03004430.2013.804069

(2) Bodrova & Leong, 2007; Dawson & Guare, 2010, as cited in Willis & Dinehart (2014).

(4) A study by Weitzman & Greenberg, 2002, as cited in Test, Cunningham, & Lee (2010).

© Tirzah Lim 2017

What are Self-Regulation Skills?

Self-Regulation Skills and the Link with Social-Emotional Wellbeing

What the research says…

The importance of social-emotional development has been clearly established, especially in recent research with the emphasis on social-emotional health and wellbeing (6,11,12). There is now also an awareness of the link between social-emotional development and self-regulation skills. Thus, there has been an increase in research in this area, including a focus on the effects of these two areas of development on school readiness and early academic achievement (2,3,12,15).

As a result of these findings, it has been acknowledged that early development and support of these regulatory processes, or commonly referred to as self-regulation skills (including the development of behavioural, cognitive/executive functioning and emotional self-regulation skills) are of great importance.

It has also been noted that the development of self-regulatory skills best begins during the early childhood years, particularly at home with family. This is because family are the closest and most influential factor in children’s lives (4,12,15).

However, it has only been in the last ten years that research has really focused on the importance of the development of self-regulation and importantly in interaction with those beyond the family context, in particular within early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings, compared to a primary school settings (as most past research have concentrated on). Examples of primary school studies included those cited by Mortensen et al. (2015), (including, Mashburn et al., 2010; Rudasill et al., 2009; Sabol et al., 2012), as well as other studies cited by Rudasill et al. (2016), (such as Hamre et al., 2001; O’ Connor, 2010; Rudasill, 2011).


As the preschool years are the peak time that regulatory processes develop and are crucial for foundational skills for children’s development (5,17), research has looked into this area more closely. Consequently, researchers have started to investigate potential protective factors in the ECEC context, including preschools and long day centres. Furthermore, studies have placed particular emphasis on populations that are at-risk due to individual and/or broader contextual factors.

There are three main types of factors within the ECEC context that have been found to positively and effectively influence the development of regulatory processes in the preschool years, protective factors that ECEC contexts can easily tailor into their classroom. These protective factors have been found to have correlated benefits to all children – children from positive and less positive backgrounds – that is, children having experienced more at-risk contextual factors.




The first main factor that was identified to be influential in an ECEC context was teacher quality, but what this actually included was somewhat unclear and undefined. So to clearly understand what teacher quality actually was required further analysis of studies.

The following child-centred beliefs = factors of teacher quality:

  • Making curriculum and classroom decision, including having authoritative leadership and organisational structure,  whilst promoting autonomy among children. As well as teaching through sensitive interactions and caring relationships (10).
  • This correlated to growing self-regualtion, namely behavioural self-regulation (10).



Though academic outcomes could not directly be linked to child-centred beliefs and practices, there was an indirect relationship between those practices. This was a result of increased self-regulatory processes, and as such, this furthered skills in literacy and maths (10).

Curriculum decisions was another area of teacher quality. Willis et al. (2014) pointed out that children firstly learn to externally regulate their emotions through the help of others in the context of ECEC settings such as, through sociodramatic play experiences.

  • Rather than use more internal skills, which they would use when they got more skillful, it was proposed that through sociodramatic play children would be able to learn to externally regulate their emotions through scaffolded experiences with a more experienced teacher or peer to model and facilitate emotional self-regulation (18).

Additionally, through sociodramatic play…

  • Behaviour would itself be regulated by the ‘role’ they adopted, while also being regulated by others.
  • Within this safe ‘pretend’ world of scenarios there were no serious consequences to making the incorrect response. There were instead given opportunities to try again with the same or different strategies till they got it correct, and in doing so, refine their range of self-regulatory skills.

Curriculum decisions, another area of teacher quality.

Inclusion of active play was another important curriculum decision that had an influential effect. In the study by Becker et al. (2014) they had participants from Head Start preschools (who were preschool groups characterised as high-risk including children who have disabilities and physical delays, and who catered for children from low income families). Though this was a small sample, findings from the study were important in regards to the participants of the study and purpose.

  • Becker et al. (2014) found that the inclusion of active play in the everyday curriculum improved the self-regulatory skills of children, particularly children who came from a high-risk background, as described above.
  • They also found that there was a link between more active play and better self-regulation, in that children also showed higher literacy and maths skills, which was an indirect effect of using their self-regulatory processing skills obtained through the medium of active play.

It was significant to note the importance of curriculum decisions for individual needs, particularly for those who were more likely to have disabilities and physical delays. It was also important to know what factors were more likely to help and improve their skills.



Children’s most basic human LEARNING needs

  • Include collaborative learning, giving the child autonomy, and promoting a sense of belonging and competence.
  • Another area of child-centred practices and beliefs.

These concepts are all related to the issue of learning that takes place IN INTERACTION with others and the learning context (7,18).

When this type of learning was promoted, children’s basic human LEARNING needs were met, which meant lowered stress levels and less need to use emotion regulation. Overall, resulting in increased self-regulatory skills (7).

Learning that takes place IN INTERACTION with others and the learning context… meets children’s basic human LEARNING needs… resulting in increased self-regulatory skills


A second major factor that was identified to be influential in an ECEC context was engagement. Engagement with teachers, in the classroom, as well as in class tasks. However, a key factor that was important to consider alongside this issue was classroom climate/environment.


The study by Williford et al. (2013b) found that children who were more engaged in class tasks were more positively engaged with teachers and this was correlated to an increase in task orientation.

  • They also found that despite children being engaged in more negativity in the classroom, controlled emotional regulatory processing behaviours were related to positive engagement with teachers.

Another study by Williford et al. (2013a) added that in correlation with higher engagement in the classroom and with class tasks, this was related to greater gains in self-regulation.

  • There was also a relationship between the quality of teacher interactions in the classroom and inhibitory control, along with an increase in receptive vocabulary.
  • As a whole, these findings were related to better school readiness skills.

An environment is characterised by the relationships formed between teachers and children, which then influences children’s engagement in the classroom (3).

But how are these relationships supported? How is engagement heightened?

Through establishing the right….



Related to this second factor of engagement is the key factor of classroom climate/environment in relation to how emotionally and organisationally supportive the environment is.


In a study undertaken by Cadima et al. (2016) with a population of socially disadvantaged children, it was found that closer teacher-child relationships had a correlation with higher self-regulation.

  • A finding was that it was not just closer individualised teacher-child relationships that helped self-regulation. It was ALSO necessary to consider the quality of support provided by the classroom environment – that is, the climate of the learning environment.

The study by Choi et al (2016) found similar findings when they looked at cognitive regulation/executive function (i.e., skills including planning, reflection and independence), specifically focusing on inhibitory control (i.e., skills such as delaying gratification and restraining impulses).

  • The population of this study was based on children who were characterised by behaviour and emotion that were more negative, in particular, having lower/poorer inhibitory control.
  • They found that children who came with lower/poorer inhibitory control benefited from emotionally supportive and well-organised classrooms.

  • Interestingly, children from this group also made greater gains and improvement in inhibitory control than children who began and were on a normal trajectory of regulatory processes development.
  • Therefore, initial child inhibitory control was not a factor in determining their trajectory.
  • The key was teacher support, which enabled negative trajectories to be overturned and instead lead children to improved inhibitory control.

Inhibitory control and cognitive regulation were determined by both teacher-child interactions AND environmental climate established within the classroom (4).

Rudasill et al. (2016) added to the mounting research, with findings concerning effortful control (i.e. self-regulation relating to temperament), teacher-child relationships, and teacher-child conflict.

  • They found that emotional support assisted with low effortful control.
  • While the reverse was found too. That is, negative emotional support limited and made inhibitory control (i.e., skills such as delaying gratification and restraining impulses) worse, which also increased teacher-child conflict.

Basing discussion around teaching practices and teacher-child interactions as well as how children are the active recipients of teacher interactions, there were further findings regarding emotional support of children with and without behavioural problems and teacher-child conflict (13).

  • This suggested that children are ‘active’ in their own ecological context as a ‘child’/individual. In the same way teachers are ‘active’ in their ecological context as professionals in the ‘ECEC setting’ .
    • When considering the mesosystem – that is, the interconnection between the different contexts, this meant that within the ECEC context children and teachers had bi-directional effects on one another. Specfically in relation to this discussion, when positive emotional support was provided negative class behaviour decreased, which included teacher-child conflict.


The third and last main influential factor in an ECEC context was teacher-child relationships. The following studies build on the research by Cadima et al. (2016) and Rudasill et al. (2016), which were specifically related to the second protective factor.

Mortensen et al. (2015) discussed findings by various studies, including the following areas.

  • How children’s self-regulation related to social-emotional competence.
  • How engagement in class and being emotionally supported by teachers related back to high-quality teachers and high-quality child relationships with others.
  • The various studies in this area also found correlations to academic outcomes, namely literacy and maths outcomes.

In other studies, it was found that higher teacher-child relationships were correlated with higher self-regulation, as well as with higher maths skills in both preschool and kindergarten.

  • This was because the skills that enabled children to excel in understanding and solving maths problems (i.e., skills related to the learning of maths) such as working memory, inhibitory skills, and cognitive flexibility were the same skills associated with developing behavioural and cognitive self-regulation (2).

On another academic level, there were significant findings in relation to the impact of teacher-child relationships and behaviour regulation on the effects of language development, specifically grammar skills.

In this study, they found that despite having high teacher-child conflict, a child’s grammar skills still increased (15). However, it was their level of behavioural regulatory skills that related to the amount of grammar gained.

  • That is, more controlled behaviour regulation correlated with higher grammar skills.
  • While lower behaviour regulation correlated with lower grammar gain.
  • On the other hand, children with a weak (versus low) behaviour regulation had further risk for delay in language development. This was because teacher-child relationships that were characterised as having high-conflict, compounded experiences for children that impacted more areas of language development in addition to their grammar skills.

An additional study by Graziano et al. (2015) followed a group of children with externalising behavioural problems who were reported to have more difficulties with school readiness skills at preschool and difficulties when beginning school.

  • They concluded from their findings that that the defining factor was the quality of relationships – the positive and closer teacher-child relationships.
  • This correlated with executive function/cognitive regulation skills, teacher-rated school readiness and later school achievement.


  • Skills that assist in school readiness and academic achievement such as, working memory, planning, and independence are the same skills required to develop self-regulatory processes.
  • More importantly, Graziano et al. (2015) concluded that it was the quality of teacher-child relationships that could act as a protective factor for negative effects of self-regulatory processes.

It is important to note that the various types of factors from the ECEC setting...

  • Did NOT actually raise self-regulation as a whole for children with ‘normally’ developing self-regulatory development or children who had well developed self-regulation skills.
  • Instead, the three identified protective factors assisted in the development of self-regulatory skills and later school achievement. That is, the ECEC setting was another important ecological context in the life of children who were at-risk of developing low self-regulation. Not being born ‘at-risk’; but instead because of the interactive factors in their ecological context this affected the trajectory of their development in a less positive way.

As such, there are particular factors that act as protective, influential factors in the ECEC context that can support children to catch-up to their peers. In doing so, when provided with these more positive and effective factors in an ECEC context, children who were at-risk could make even greater gains, overtaking the skills and abilities of their peers who were on a ‘normal’, stable trajectory of self-regulatory development.


The study by Gunzenhauser et al (2015)(9) looked at families from lower versus higher socio-economic status (SES), and discussed some important findings in regards to a mix of the three factors that influence behaviour regulation.

      • Just because children were from higher-SES families did not mean they expanded the growth of their self-regulation or even that they had higher self-regulation.
      • The opposite was also true for children from lower-SES families. That is, just because children were from lower-SES families did not mean they lowered their self-regulation or had lower self-regulation.
      • Children from lower-SES families could still develop self-regulation to the same quality and even high self-regulation, as a positive contributing factor was the ECEC context.
CURRICULUM DECISIONSMore books vs. less books (9)

(Books – a measurement of home educational resources).

Despite being from a lower-SES, children with more books at home related to the support of the development of positive behaviour regulation.

However, some children from lower-SES had less books at home. In these cases the ECEC context became a protective factor by the curriculum decisions that were made. In particular, making books available and reading to children a focal part of the program.

    • This would support the development of children’s varying levels of regulatory processing skills who were also from varying SES backgrounds.
TEACHER-CHILD RELATIONSHIPSIs gender a risk factorin the development of self-regulatory processing skills?(9)

Gender was found not to be a risk factor.

In fact boys who had low processing skills or at-risk of developing low self-regulatory skills when growing up in the context of an at-risk familial environment, actually had a higher rate bouncing back and ‘catching up’ compared to girls.

The key was teacher-child relationships characterised by verbally stimulating non-gender specific socialisation (9).

  • The quality in relationships children developed with their teachers in the ECEC setting became a protective factor for children. A relationship that they may not have established or will develop in the home environment.
  • Even more, when children developed these relationships characterised by this style of verbal socialisation this was found to have a significant impact on the development of children’s self-regulatory processing skills, particularly boys from lower-SES backgrounds(9).

**** REFLECT ****

Are you gender-specific in your verbal socialisation?

Eg: Being more emotionally supportive and verbally stimulating to girls vs. more physically playful with boys.

Empirical studies says that most families are not very aware. However, teachers in ECEC contexts are more aware of their interactions, and provide equal time and verbal stimulation to both boys and girls (Matthew et al., 2014; as cited in Gunzenhauser et al., 2015).


(1) Becker, D.R., McClelland, M.M., Loprinzi P., & Trost, S.G. (2014). Physical activity, self-regulation, and early academic achievement in preschool children. Early Education & Development, 25, 56-70. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2013.780505

(2) Blair, C., & McKinnon, R.D. (2016). Moderating effects of executive functions and the teacher-child relationship on the development of mathematics ability in kindergarten. Learning and Instruction, 41, 85-93. doi: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2015.10.001

(3) Cadima, J., Verschueren, K., Leal, T., & Guedes, C. (2016). Classroom interactions, dyadic teacher-child relationships, and self-regulation in socially disadvantaged young children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 44(1), 7-17. doi: 10.1007/s10802-015-0060-5

(4) Choi, J.Y., Castle, S., Williamson, A.C., Young, E., Worley, L., Long, M., & Horm, D.M. (2016).  Teacher-child interactions and the development of executive function in preschool-age children attending Head Start. Early Education & Development, 27(6), 751-769. doi:10.1080/10409289.2016.1129864

(5) Degol, J.L., & Bachman, H.J. (2015). Preschool teachers’ classroom behavioural socialisation practices and low-income children’s self-regulation skills. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 31, 89-100. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresjq.2015.01.002

(6) Denham, S.A., Bassett, H.H., Way, E., Mincic, M., Zinsser, K., & Graling, K. (2012).  Preschoolers’ emotion knowledge: Self-regulatory foundations, and predictions of early school success. Cognition & Emotion, 26(4), 667-679. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2011.602049

(7) Fried, L. (2011). Teaching teachers about emotion regulation in the classroom.  Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(3), 117-127.

(8) Graziano, P.A., Garb, L.R., Ros, R., Hart, K., & Garcia, A. (2015). Executive functioning and school readiness among pre-schoolers with externalising problems: The moderating role of the student-teacher relationship. Early Education & Development, 27(5), 573-589. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2016.1102019

(9) Gunzenhauser, C., & Von Suchodoletz, A. (2015). Boys might catch up, family influences continue: Influences on behavioural self-regulation in children from an affluent region in Germany before school entry. Early Education & Development, 26, 645-662. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2015.1012188

(10) Hur, E., Buettner, C., & Jeon, L. (2015). The association between teachers’ child- centred beliefs and children’s academic achievement: The indirect effect of  children’s behavioural self-regulation. Child & Youth Care Forum, 44(2), 309-325. doi: 10.1007/s10566-014-9283-9

(11) Kragh-Muller, G., & Gloeckler, L.R. (2010). What did you learn in school today? The importance of socioemotional development – A comparison of U.S. and Danish child report. Childhood Education, 87(1), 53-61.

(12)Mortensen, J.A., & Barnett, M.A. (2015). Teacher-child interactions in infant/toddler child care and socioemotional development. Early Education & Development, 26(2), 209-229. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2015.985878

(13) Nurmi, J.-E., & Kiuru, N. (2015). Students’ evocative impact on teacher instruction and teacher–child relationships. International Journal of Behavioural Development, 39(5), 445-457. doi: 10.1177/0165025415592514

(14) Rudasill, K.M., Hawley, L., Molfese, V.J., Tu, X., Prokasky, A., & Sirota, K. (2016). Temperament and teacher-child conflict in preschool: The moderating roles of classroom instructional and emotional support. Early Education & Development, 27(7), 859-874. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2016.1156988

(15) Schmitt, M.B., Pentimonti, J.M., & Justice, L.M. (2012). Teacher-child relationships, behaviour regulation, and language gain among at-risk preschoolers. Journal of School Psychology, 50(5), 681-699. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2012.04.003

(16) Williford, A.P., Maier, M.F., Downer, J.T., Pianta, R.C., & Howes, C. (2013a). Understanding how children’s engagement and teachers’ interactions combine to predict school readiness. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 34(6), 299-309. doi: 10.1016/j.appdev.2013.05.002

(17) Williford, A., Vick Whitaker, J.E., Vitello, V., & Downer, J. (2013b). Children’s engagement within the preschool classroom and their development of self-regulation. Early Education & Development, 24(2), 162-187. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2011.628270

(18) Willis, E., & Dinehart, L.H. (2014). Contemplative practices in early childhood: Implications for self-regulation skills and school readiness. Early Child Development & Care, 184(4), 487-499. doi: 10.1080/03004430.2013.804069

© Tirzah Lim 2017

How Does Children’s Behaviour Affect Teachers’ Wellbeing?

The Bi-Directional Link Between Children’s and Teachers’ Wellbeing

From extensive research in brain development, it has been conclusive that early childhood experiences are vital in developing well established children for the future with positive life outcomes. In particular these experiences affect children’s physical health, social and emotional wellbeing later in life (1,4,8).

Even more, the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Framework (NQF) have acknowledged this position and has placed a focused emphasis on the role early childhood practitioners (ECPs) have in understanding and supporting the development of the social wellbeing of children through the relationships they build with both the child and their family (3).


Children’s mental health issues contribute to ECPs’ own emotional health and wellbeing.

It has been found that mental health issues, in particular oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and anxiety and depression are among the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in childhood (5,6,7).

In all cases of children’s mental health and wellbeing, it commonly presents itself through behaviour – positive, negative, or even hidden/silent behaviour, which means something.

  • In these cases, it has been found that supporting children in the class who experience more emotional and/or behavioural difficulties, is often aligned to ECPs’ stress levels. In turn, contributing to ECPs’ own emotional wellbeing (4,6).
    • ECP wellbeing has flow on effects in the relationships they form with children, the way they interact with them and react to their behaviour.
    • ECP wellbeing will also have an influence on the relationships they develop with families.

This raises important issues for the early childhood field and for ECPs in understanding their role in supporting the development of positive emotional wellbeing of all children. This includes being equipped with the knowledge of the importance of emotional wellbeing in children’s development. It also involves the responsibility in understanding what ECPs can do to support children and their families/family members who may be experiencing mental health issues.


ECPs have a responsibility to establish partnerships and collaboratively work with families.

In the study undertaken by Williams, Sanchez, and Hunnell (2011), they discuss the positive outcomes when there are partnerships between families and education organisations.

They base their study around the concept of an ecological approach, which emphasises four principles that are also relevant to the early childhood context. Two of the most important and interrelated of these being discussed below: interdependence and interpersonal relationships, both of which are also related to developing partnerships with families.

  • To be able to cater for their present needs and to provide effective learning experiences, is to understand children and their past experiences (2). This entails nurturing and growing interdependent relationships with families. It is when families and teachers work hand-in-hand with the unique knowledge they have of the child from each of their contexts (i.e. the home and early childhood service).
  • Instead of the main reason for conversing with families to be negative feedback, such as discussing problematic issues, challenging behaviour, or mishaps that have occurred during the day; when partnerships are focused on the interpersonal relationship it becomes stronger. As a result, there will be more benefits for all involved .
    • Partnerships that are focused on interpersonal relationships create more positive, trusted, and effective relationships.
    • This leads to families being more involved in their children’s education that works towards inclusive practices, while also supporting teachers.
    • In particular, children’s behaviour was more effectively supported, which in turn reduced teacher stress and supported their emotional-wellbeing.



(1) Brown, W.H. & Conroy, M.A. (2011). Social-emotional competence in young children with developmental delays: Our reflection and vision for the future. Journal of Early Intervention, 33(4), 310-320.

(2) Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations [DEEWR]. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. Retrieved from http://education.gov.au/early-yearslearning-framework

(3) Gloeckler, L. & Cassell, J. (2012). Teacher practices with toddlers during social problem solving opportunities. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40(4), 251-257.

(4) Green, B.L., Malsch, A.M., Kothari, B.H. Busse, J. & Brennan, E. (2012). An intervention to increase early childhood staff capacity for promoting children’s social-emotional development in preschool settings. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40(2), 123-132.

(5) Hamilton, S.S. & Armando, J. (2008). Oppositional defiant disorder. American Family Physician, 78(7), 861-866.

(6) Matthys, W., Vanderschuren, L.J.M.J., Schutter, D.J.L.G. & Lochman, J.E. (2012). Impaired neurocognitive functions affect social learning processes in oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder: Implications for interventions. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 15(3), 234-246.

(7) Nordahl, H.M., Well, A., Olsson, C.A. & Bjerkeset, O. (2010). Association between abnormal psychosocial situations in childhood, generalized anxiety disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 44(9), 852-858.

(8) Temple, E. & Emmett, S. (2013). Promoting the development of children’s emotional and social wellbeing in early childhood settings: How can we enhance the capability of educators to fulfil role expectations? Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 38(1), 66-72.

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© Tirzah Lim 2017