Policy on Behaviour Management

Updated June 2018      

The nursery promotes an atmosphere where people feel valued and encouraged in their own Personal, Social and Emotional development. The Sam Morris Nursery recognises that the development of a child's Personal, Social and Emotional development is a core element of their learning encompassed within the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.  This is a developmental task that needs the support, encouragement, teaching and positive role model from all.

It is important that everyone who uses the nursery understands the philosophy behind the nursery - that violence or intimidation is not acceptable, either verbal or physical - between any combination of persons, or that causes damage to property.  The manager ensures that all staff, Parents/Carers, students and volunteers and children work in partnership and understand that communication channels are open and any worries or concerns should be aired immediately and dealt with appropriately. 

Everybody’s values should be respected and a flexible, open approach adopted to avoid conflict.  The manager is available to offer advice on difficult issues and give information on outside agencies who could offer more specialised support.

Children learn from the adults around them so all adults should be conscious of their own behaviour.  Aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated and if encountered, you will be asked to leave the premises.  The Nursery promotes and enforces a positive behaviour policy as we believe that all children, parents and staff have an entitlement to be in an environment in which they feel safe, cared for and free from bullying.

Procedure for all staff and adults on site

  • Praise positive behaviour with simple phrases and body language.

  • Listen to children at all times and encourage them to voice their concerns.

  • Be clear and firm about boundaries for unacceptable behaviour.

  • Deal with behaviour in a consistent manner, with strategies agreed by all and to support one another in implementing these strategies.

  • Remove the child from the situation if unacceptable behaviour continues and explain that what they are doing is not acceptable. If s/he continues, then time out is permitted, 1 minute for every year of their life.

  • Make the situation safe for the child, other children and adults if a tantrum occurs. A staff member should supervise the tantrum and the other members of staff should offer support when necessary.  Staff should remain calm and let the child express their emotions.


The Sam Morris Nursery has a designated person (Melanie Warne) who is responsible for ensuring that the children receive the appropriate support for their Personal, Social and Emotional development, and any issues regarding behavioural concerns.

It is the responsibility of the designated coordinator to:

  • Keep abreast with current legislation, research, promoting positive behaviour within the setting ensuring inclusive practice.

  • Attend regular training.

  • All staff, volunteers and students are required to demonstrate positive behaviour through friendliness, care and courtesy to all children, parents and one another.

  • All new staff and volunteers are given copies of the settings behavioural policy and guidelines.

  • All members of the setting – staff, children, parents, volunteers and students – to adhere to the guidelines and procedures.

  • We work in partnership with parents, through daily feedback on their child's behaviour.  Staff carry out weekly observations to ascertain any recurring inconsiderate behaviour.  These observations are then discussed with the parents and relevant strategies are agreed.

Strategies with children who engage in inconsiderate behaviour   

  • All staff, volunteers and students are required to promote and use positive strategies for dealing with any inconsiderate behaviour.  This is achieved through the implementation of supporting the children to adopt strategies and find solutions that are relevant to their individual needs in accordance to the age and stage of the child.  Solutions such as: enabling the child to acknowledge their emotions and feelings, and support them to understand their emotions through empowering them to gain control of their feelings to enable them to learn and adopt a more positive approach.  Also through discussions and explanations as to what behaviour was not acceptable.

  • Acknowledgement of considerate behaviour such as sharing and kindness is recognised.

  • We support all children in developing self- esteem,confidence and feelings of competence.

  • All children are supported in developing a sense of belonging in their individual rooms and across the whole of the nursery, so that they feel valued, respected and welcome.

  • Children receive praise, support and adult attention throughout the day.

  • When children behave in inconsiderate ways, we help them to understand the outcomes of their action and support them in learning how to cope more appropriately.

  • Physical punishment or threats, such as smacking or shaking will not be tolerated.

  • A child will only be physically restrained, such as holding, only to prevent the child from harming themselves, others and/or serious damage to the nursery property.

  • In the event of the above details (what happened, action which was taken and by whom, and names of witnesses) will be brought to the attention of the manager and will be recorded in the child's individual personal file.  Parents will also be notified of the event on the same day.

  • The adults do not shout or raise their voices in any threatening way to respond to any unwanted/inconsiderate behaviour.

The Sam Morris Centre also implements a ‘Time out’ strategy.   This is directed at the older children in the Nursery and should only be given when a child is displaying negative physical behaviour which may cause harm to themselves or another child.   Time out is when the child is moved away from the immediate situation to a safe environment (A minute for every year, depending on how old they are).  The child is then spoken to by an adult at an age appropriate level about why their behaviour was unacceptable. Talking and reassuring actions will enable the child to recognise his/her feelings and so deal with them. 

Sometimes it may be necessary to take physical action in an emergency to prevent personal injury to the child or others around them. 

Parents will always be informed if ‘Time out’ has been used on the day it occurs. When we feel that a child’s behaviour is giving cause for concern then behavioural observations will be taken and a meeting will be arranged between the Parents/Carers and their key worker to discuss possible reasons behind the behaviour and ways to support the child to move forward. These meetings will be recorded and notes kept on the child’s file.  Parents are advised to monitor the child’s behaviour at home using these observations in order for them to identify a pattern in the child’s behaviour.  Parents are also welcome to keep a copy of the observations. Activities will be planned for the particular individual needs of the child and any strategies will be incorporated into the planning.  For example, if a baby is constantly biting then staff will provide a treasure basket or biting bag with a variety of textured objects that the child can put in their mouth.

Children under three years

  • We recognise that when children under the age of three behave in inconsiderate ways strategies for supporting their individual needs will need to be developmentally appropriate and will differ from those for the older children.

  • We recognise and understand that babies and young toddlers are unable to control their own emotions, such as anger, fear or distress, and will require sensitive adults to help them do this.

  • Staff will remain calm and patient, whilst offering comfort to intense emotions, when helping children to manage their emotions and feelings when displaying inconsiderate or hurtful behaviour such as biting, hitting or having tantrums.  Through joint discussions these feelings are shared and help to resolve the issues and promote understanding.

  • If children are displaying frequent tantrums or other inconsiderate behaviour, staff will liaise with both parents and other colleagues to try and establish any underlying cause. 

  • We operate a key person system to support children's personal, social and emotional development, through attachment and building strong relationships which will provide security to the individual child.

Rough and tumble play, hurtful behaviour and bullying

Our policy has been updated to include and provide additional focus on these kinds of inconsiderate behaviours.

Rough and tumble play and fantasy aggression

Within a child's imaginative play, they often engage in play that displays aggressive themes, such as superhero's and weapon play;  some children appear pre-occupied with these themes, but their behaviour is not necessarily a precursor to hurtful behaviour or bullying, although it may be inconsiderate at times and may need addressing using strategies as above.

  • Staff recognise that rough and tumble play and teasing are developmentally normal for young children and are acceptable within limits.  This kind of play is regarded as pro-social and not as problematic or aggressive behaviour.

  • Strategies are developed to contain play which are agreed with the children, and understood by them, with acceptable behavioural boundaries to ensure children are not hurt.

  • We recognise that fantasy play also consists of violent dramatic strategies, such as shooting, blowing people up, roles referred to as 'goodies and baddies'. These opportunities allow us to explore concepts of right and wrong with the children, and can allow us to tune in to the content of play, and possibly offer and suggest alternative strategies, making the most of 'teachable moments' which will encourage empathy and lateral thinking to explore alternative scenarios and strategies for conflict resolution.

Hurtful behaviour

The nursery takes hurtful behaviour very seriously.  Most children under five years of age will at some point/stage hurt or say something hurtful to another child, especially during times when their emotions are high.  This type of behaviour should not be labelled as 'bullying', as for children under five years old, hurtful behaviour is momentary, spontaneous and often without cognisance of the feelings of the person whom they have hurt.

  • Staff recognise that young children's hurtful behaviour towards others is due to their ability to manage intense feelings which sometimes overwhelms them has not developed at this stage.

  • Staff will help and support the children to manage these feelings as they have neither the biological means nor the cognitive means to do this for themselves. As we understand that self-management of intense emotions, especially of anger, happens when the brain has developed neurological systems to manage the physiological processes that take place when triggers activate responses of anger or fear.

  • We help this process by offering support, calming both of the children. Supporting and helping the child to a normal state enables the child's brain to develop the physiological response system which will help them to manage their own feelings.

  • We do not engage in punitive responses to a young child's rage as that will have the opposite effect. Our way of responding to pre-verbal children is to calm them through holding and cuddling.  Verbal children will also respond to cuddling to calm them down, however, we will offer them an explanation and discuss the incident with them to their level of understanding.

  • Staff recognise that young children require help and guidance with understanding the range of feelings they experience.  This is achieved through naming them and helping children to express them which enables them to make a connection verbally between the event and the feeling/emotion.  For example “Bella took your pram, didn't she, and you was playing with it.  You didn't like it when she took it, did you?  Did it make you feel angry? Is that why you hit her?”  However, the older children are more capable to verbalise their feelings better, talking through themselves the feelings that motivated the behaviour.

  • We help young children to learn to empathise with others, by enabling them to recognise and understand that they also have feelings and that their actions impact on others' feelings.  For example “ When you threw the car at Bella, it hurt her and she didn't like that and it made her cry.”

  • Staff help and support young children to develop pro-social behaviour.  For example resolving conflict over who has the toy.  “ I can see you are feeling better now and Bella isn't crying any more. Let's see if we can be friends and find another pram, so that you can both play with one.”

  • We are aware that the same problem may occur over and over again before developing skills such as sharing and turn-taking.  In order for both the biological maturation and cognitive development to take place, children will need repeated experiences with problem solving, supported by patient adults and clear boundaries.

  • Social skills are supported through modelling behaviour, through drama and stories and everyday activities and experiences.

  • Self-esteem and confidence is embedded in children through the recognition of their emotional needs from close and committed relationships they have built.

  • Children are helped to understand the effect that their hurtful behaviour has had on another child; children are not forced to say sorry, but are encouraged.

  • If a child constantly displays hurtful behaviour, staff will liaise with the parents to identify the cause and find a solution together.

There are several reasons why young children engage in excessive hurtful behaviour, these are that:

  • They do not feel valued or have not built any strong attachments who can interpret and meet their individual needs – this could be either at home or in the nursery environment.

  • Their parents or carers within the setting, does not have the appropriate skills in responding, and consequently negative patterns are developing where hurtful behaviour is the only response the child has to express feelings of anger or frustration.

  • The child may have difficulty communicating as they have insufficient language, or mastery of English, to express themselves and may feel very frustrated.

  • The child is exposed to levels of aggressive behaviour at home and may be at risk emotionally, or may be experiencing child abuse.

  • The child may have a developmental condition that affects how they behave.

We use the Code of Practice to support the child and family if the above does not work, allowing us to make appropriate referrals to a Behaviour Support Team where necessary.


The nursery takes bullying very seriously.  The term bullying involves the persistent physical or verbal abuse of another child or children.  It is characterised by intent to hurt, which is often planned, and accompanied by an awareness of the impact of the bullying behaviour.

A child who is bullying has reached a stage of cognitive development where s/he is able to plan to carry out a premeditated intent to cause distress in another.

Bullying normally occurs in children aged five years and over, and may well be an issue in establishments who cater for slightly older children such as after school clubs and holiday schemes.

If a child bullies another child or children:

  • The intervention from an adult to stop the child who is bullying from harming the other other child/ren.

  • Listening and responding to the child's concerns who has been bullied, giving them reassurance.

  • Give an explanation to the child who is doing the bullying why his/her behaviour is not acceptable, to enable them to recognise and understand the impact of their actions.

  • Give plenty of praise to the child (bully) for positive and considerate behaviour towards others.  Ensure plenty of opportunities to practise and reflect on considerate behaviour is allowed.

  • Children who bully are not labelled as 'bullies'.

  • Staff recognise that children who bully may be experiencing bullying themselves, or be subject to abuse or other circumstance causing them to express their anger in negative ways.

  • Staff recognise that children who bully are often unable to emphasise with others, for this reason we do not insist that they say sorry unless it is clear that they feel genuine remorse for their actions. 

  • Parents meeting with the child who did the bullying will take place to discuss strategies and put in place an action plan for handling the child's behaviour.

  • Information is shared with the parents of the child who has been bullied, explaining that the child who did the bullying is being helped to adopt more acceptable ways of behaving.