By: Carrie Naijar, M. Ed., Early Childhood Education Specialist, STG International, Inc, Alexandria VA.
I became a Center Supervisor at a Head Start program and focused on the academic outcomes of the children, supporting families with wrap-around services and assisting the teaching staff with occasional behavior issues. It seemed like there was not anything I could not handle. Two years later, I met my challenge, learning more about children’s behavioral language in nine months than I had learned in years of college.
Our center had three children that engaged in challenging behavior ranging from hitting other children and staff, knocking over furniture, dumping storage bins, ripping children’s artwork off the walls to collapsing on the carpet sobbing. I, with a Master’s degree, was expected to lead and support the teaching staff in addressing these behaviors, but did not know what to do. I was indebted to the mental health consultant’s leadership and her assistance in our center. One year later, she introduced me to a training opportunity that would change everything.
I attended the Facing the Challenge Train-the-Trainer program that the mental health consultant had invited me to attend. I was trained by Barbara Kaiser and Nefertiti Bruce, both knowledgeable trainers that shared similar classroom experiences. The training was in-depth, research based and made sense. The training videos and materials were relatable, sent a consistent message and incorporated the work of numerous experts in the field of Early Childhood. I left the training program with answers and resources; the pieces of the puzzle I needed!
Since 2007, I have delivered Facing the Challenge training to over 400 participants in Ohio. After attending this training, educators leave with the understanding that challenging behavior is a language children speak in times of need, not because they are "bad kids." Facing the Challenge reminds us that addressing challenging behavior is a journey, not a day trip. Now my journey begins every time I lead a training and share my experiences. At the end of every training I take pride in knowing, I faced the challenge.