[R-0466] S6: Social Interactions

Citation: The CSEFEL. (2005).  Helping Children Express Their Wants and Needs. Retrieved from [link] [or enter The CSEFEL. (2005).  Helping Children Express Their Wants and Needs” in your search window]

Abstract: This is a research brief that is part of the What Works Brief series produced by The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL). All briefs in this series are “short, easy to read, ‘how to’ information packets on a variety of evidence-based practices, strategies, and intervention procedures. Briefs include examples and vignettes that illustrate how practical strategies might be used in a variety of early childhood settings and home environments. They are most successful for an individual child when developed based on observation and assessment of the child including information from the family, teacher, and other caregivers.” (p. 1). In this brief article, scholars will learn effective strategies to prevent challenging behaviors by teaching children more appropriate ways of communicating their needs and wants.

Integration: “Children with communication delays often exhibit challenging behaviors when their needs are not met. Because of the children’s limited communication skills, their caregivers misinterpret or fail to notice their communication attempts. However, as children learn to communicate better and caregivers learn to recognize and respond to children’s communication, these challenging behaviors often subside.”

Content Focus: Challenging Behaviors; Child Guidance; Communication Skills; Communication Delays; Social and Emotional Development

Notes: The child introduced in this brief is a three-year-old boy who has difficulty communicating with others and demonstrates challenging behavior both at home and at school. Strategies recommended for him include reading his body language, providing him with choices, providing picture schedules to help him move easily between activities, segmenting multiple-step directions and providing cues so he better understands the expectations, and modeling communication skills. As an activity to use with this resource, instructors can divide the class into groups and have each group read, report on, and model a strategy for their peers. Scholars might also discuss why these strategies might provide support to other children in the class. This brief includes links to additional information on implementing the practice of helping young children communicate. It also provides the names of researchers who have examined the short- and long-term effectiveness of adults’ use of the strategy described here as Helping Children Express Their Needs and Wants.