“Stop that!” I heard the shout from across the classroom. I took a deep breath and headed to the block area. I was confident I knew what happened. Four-year-old Charlie yelled at other children a few times a day. The reasons varied. Someone was too close. Someone was using a toy that he wanted. In this case, it was because someone was looking at him. If Charlie’s yelling at other children was not a challenging behavior, I did not know what was.
Let me be clear, I do not think Charlie was challenging, but his yelling was challenging to both me and Charlie. I was stressed by the volume. For Charlie, whatever caused him to yell was challenging; the yelling itself was not. Telling Charlie to stop yelling might address what I found challenging, but not what he found challenging. Too often, we as teachers focus on the behaviors that we find challenging rather than what is challenging the child. In other words, our main goal is to get the child to comply to our rules and expectations.