It's not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It's our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.– L. R. Knost
The applied behavioral science (ABS) principles of actively caring for people (AC4P) are critical for effective childcare. Appropriate applications of these principles can dramatically improve behavior and the way caregivers teach children healthy, prosocial behavior. Many parents and caregivers use these principles already without knowing it. Others can benefit from learning the principles and their applications.
You may already be a parent or a teacher, or plan to care for children someday. Perhaps you work as a nanny or help your family by caring for younger siblings. Many careers involve working with children (e.g., teachers, healthcare professionals, and coaches). The ABS principles can be applied to all of these situations to make the work of caring for children more effective and enjoyable for both caregiver and child.
This chapter reviews the ways ABS can be used to benefit childcare. It describes how the key principles explained in Chapter 1, which have been effectively applied to the promotion of healthy behavior in the workplace, in healthcare facilities, and in schools, can be used every day in childcare situations. In addition, the most common childcare challenges are addressed, as are specific solutions provided by ABS.
Relationships between the ABS approach and healthy development are discussed throughout this chapter in order to make salient the connection between ABS principles and AC4P behavior. We focus on early childhood, addressing specific milestones and challenges in the care of children who are 3–8 years of age. Nonetheless, the ABS principles are critical to caring for children of all ages and in all stages of their development.
It's not until age 3 that children have the cognitive ability to learn from the ABS principles discussed here. Still, behavior management is certainly an important role for parents and caregivers of children under age 3. Discipline for children under age 3 consists essentially of ignoring unwanted behavior, distracting the child, and managing the environment to prevent unwanted behavior and ensure safety. The use of ABS strategies effectively in early childhood, as soon as children are developmentally ready, can lay the foundation for continued success in the future, from middle childhood to adolescence.