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NAEYC, 2021, 156 pages; ISBN: 978-1-938113-89-5

The Leader’s Crucial Role

Leaders of early childhood programs and schools play a crucial role in making it possible for children with challenging behavior to remain in school, behave appropriately, and learn. But running a program or school for young children isn’t easy—and it becomes much harder when there is a child with challenging behavior in the mix.

Possessing good leadership skills is just the beginning. Helping children with challenging behavior to reach their potential requires a community of caring where everyone works together, and principals, administrators, directors, lead teachers, supervisors, and family home caregivers—whatever they may be called—provide leadership and support.


Leaders must create an environment where all children and families are welcome and the entire staff believes that every child has the capacity to learn and behave appropriately—an environment where the educators understand both why children behave inappropriately and why they themselves respond to children’s challenging behavior in the way they do.

This book enables those who head programs for 3- to 8-year-olds to support their staff—and the children and families they serve—in the best possible way. It focuses on research-based, proven-effective strategies and information, such as the Pyramid model, PBIS, functional assessment, and Second Step, as well as trauma-based practice, resilience, cultural and linguistic diversity, implicit bias, and self-reflection.

Readers will find realistic and practical ideas to use right now, including:

  • Understanding why children engage in challenging behavior
  • Learning how a child with challenging behavior impacts your leadership skills
  • Developing a behavior guidance policy
  • Helping staff and families understand the importance of keeping a child with challenging behavior in the program
  • Enabling staff to act and supporting them through change
  • Harnessing the power of prevention
  • Helping teachers respond effectively to challenging behavior
  • Working with families
  • Creating a trauma-sensitive environment

What inspired us to write this book? Barbara’s 40 years of experience as a director, trainer, and consultant working with children with challenging behavior and the educators and administrators who care for them.

Click here to watch Barbara and Judy discussing their book.

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