Challenging Behavior


This topical guide will introduce you to important books, videos, and information resources available from the EI Clearinghouse and other sources.

Contact us via online form or by phone (1-877-275-3227) to request a resource listed below (or ask your local public librarian). Note that some videos may be viewed online, and journal titles will take you to the publisher’s homepage.

child holding hands over ears


1-2-3 magic: effective discipline for children 2-12
Tom Phelan
Sourcebooks, 2016
This book gives parents information on how to control obnoxious behavior, encourage good behavior, and strengthen relationships with your children. Advice and real life stories are included in this book.
Call#: HQ 770.4 .P485 2016 

1-2-3 Magic for kids: helping your kids understand the new rules
Tom Phelan and Tracy Lee
Sourcebooks, 2017
Through engaging illustrations and a storybook format, 1-2-3 Magic for Kids lays out the program in a way that’s relatable for kids of all ages.
Call#: HQ 770.4 .P486 2017

Addressing young children’s challenging behaviors
Michaelene Ostrosky
Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Childrens, 2013
This book covers topics like helping families address challenging behavior, using positive support in early intervention, and much more. This could be used by parents or educators.
Call#: LB 1060.2 .Ad28 2013 

ASQ:SE:2 Learning activities & more (cd-rom included)
Elizabeth Twombly, et al.
Brookes Publishing, 2018
Specially developed to complement ASQ®:SE-2, this essential resource makes it a snap to share practical social-emotional strategies with parents of children from birth to age 6.
Call#: WS 105.5 .E8 T9749 2018

Challenging behavior in young children: understanding, preventing, and responding effectively
Barbara Kaiser
Pearson, 2017
This book covers many topics like how to respond to challenging behavior, why children behave certain ways, etc.
Call#: LB 1060.2 .K35 2017

The emotional life of the toddler
Alicia Lieberman
Simon & Schuster, 2018
Now updated with new material throughout, this book is the seminal, detailed look into the varied and intense emotional life of children aged one to three. It offers an in-depth examination of toddlers’ emotional development, and illuminates how to optimize this crucial stage so that toddlers can develop into emotionally healthy children and adults.
Call#: HQ 774.5 .L54 2018
Also available as an audiobook on 5 CDs and as an eBook.

F is for feelings
Goldie Millar and Lisa Berger
Free Spirit Publishing, 2014
This friendly and positive alphabet book gives children “feelings words,” and explores the idea that while some feelings are more comfortable than others, all are natural and important. This book invites children to share, express, and embrace their emotions.
Call#: PZ 7.1 .M477 2014

From biting to hugging : understanding social development in infants and toddlers
Donna Wittmer and Deanna Clauson
Gryphon House, 2018
This book offers strategies to help caregivers teach the littlest children pro-social behaviors and techniques to deal in developmentally appropriate ways with challenging behaviors such as biting and hitting. Learn how infants and toddlers develop socially and emotionally and discover ideas for nurturing self-regulation, skills for joining in play, expressing needs and emotions, conflict-resolution skills and more.
Call#: LB 1139.23 .W58 208
Also available as an eBook.

Gentle discipline: using emotional connection – not punishment – to raise confident, capable kids
Sarah Ockwell-Smith
TarcherPerigee, 2017
Filled with ideas to try today, Gentle Discipline helps parents of toddlers as well as school-age kids embrace a new, more enlightened way to help kids listen, learn and grow.
Call#: HQ 770.4 .O25 2017
Also available as an audiobook on 6 CDs.

I belong
Cheri Meiners
Free Spirit Publishing, 2018
A sense of belonging is a basic human need. This friendly, affirming book helps toddlers see that they have places where they feel loved and where they talk, play, share–and help others belong, too.
Call#: BB 7.1 .M477b 2018

I feel
Cheri Meiners
Free Spirit Publishing, 2018
This reassuring book helps toddlers name their feelings and see that their actions affect how they feel. Includes tips and activities for helping children understand emotions.
Call#: BB 7.1 .M477f 2018

Ignore It!: how selectively looking the other way can decrease behavioral problems and increase parenting satisfaction
Catherine Perlman
Blackstone Audio, 2017
This book teaches frustrated, stressed-out parents that selectively ignoring certain behaviors can actually inspire positive changes in their kids. Combining highly effective strategies with time-tested approaches, she teaches parents when to selectively look the other way to withdraw reinforcement for undesirable behaviors.
Call#: HQ 755.8 .Ig5 2017 
Audiobook on 5 CDs.
Also available as an eBook.

Matt de la Pena
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018
This book depicts the many ways we experience the universal bond of love, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.
Call#: PZ 7 .P3725 2018

Mindful Discipline : a loving approach to setting limits & raising an emotionally intelligent child
Shauna Shapiro and Chris White
New Harbinger, 2014
Raising happy, compassionate, and responsible children requires both love and limits. This book weaves together ancient wisdom and modern science to provide new perspectives on parenting and discipline.
Call#: BF 723 .E6 S537 2014
Also available as an audiobook on 6 CDs.

Social and emotional development in early intervention : A skills guide for working with children
Mona Delahooke
PESI Publishing, 2017
Full of clear, straightforward steps, guiding principles and useful techniques backed by neuroscience and research, this book provides practical methods so that all childhood providers can better support the social and emotional lives of children and families.
Call#: BF 721 .D372 2017

Social and emotional well-being
Connie Smith, et al.
Redleaf, 2014
Young children are better able to cope with their ever-changing world, overcome obstacles, and grow into emotionally healthy adults if they are provided opportunities to build their self-awareness and confidence. Help children appreciate themselves and others, explore relationships, and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with change and difficult events in their lives as they learn about self-esteem, emotions and feelings, family, friends, and changes in life.
Call#: LB 1140.5 .H4 S647 2014 Vol.4
Also available as an eBook

Socially strong, emotionally secure : 50 activities to promote resilience in young children
Nefertiti Bruce and Karen Cairone
Gryphon House, 2011
This book provides teachers with the tools they need to help children become socially and emotionally healthy for life. Organized into five chapters, the activities support and build resilience in children ages three to eight.
Call#: HQ 783 .B79 2010

The survival guide for kids with behavior challenges: how to make good choices and stay out of trouble
Thomas McIntyre
Free Spirit Publishing, 2013
This book provides information, practical strategies, and advice to help kids make smarter choices and control their behavior. This is intended for kids and/or parents.
Call#: HQ 773 .M35 2013 

The transforming the intense child workbook
Howard Glasser
Nurtured Heart Publications, 2016
This workbook will show parents, educators, and therapists how to transform their child’s challenging behaviors into successes through a simple, powerful, and time-efficient approach.
Call#: WS 350.6 .G464 2016

Uncover the roots of challenging behavior: create responsive environments where young children thrive
Michelle Salcedo
Free Spirit Publishing, 2016
This book is for educators on reducing behavior problems and nurturing the growth of all learners in classrooms.
Call#: LB 1139.23 .S248 2018 

Using picture books to enhance children’s social and emotional literacy : creative activities and programs for parents and professionals
Susan Elswick
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018
This book offers an introduction to social-emotional literacy, followed by activities related to emotions such as empathy, friendship, grief and self-esteem, aiming to embed this literacy training into daily school and home activities to increase children’s chances of future success.
Call#: LB 1072 .E57 2018

When young children need help: understanding and addressing emotional, behavioral, and developmental challenges
Deborah Hirschland
Redleaf Press, 2015
This book provides a framework of understanding a range of emotional, behavioral, and developmental challenges and explores a process through which educators and parents can translate their growing understanding of difficulties into sensible goals for intervention.
Call#: LC 4801 .H54 2015  

Winning ways for early childhood professionals: responding to challenging behavior
Gigi Schweikert
Redleaf Press, 2016
This book explains how educators and professionals should best respond to children with challenging behavior and how to understand them.
Call#: LB 1060.2 .S349 2016 


Good discipline: understanding difficult behaviors and turning them around
54 min; DVD
Healthy Learning, 2011
This video discusses difficult behaviors and how to react and change those behaviors.
Call#: HQ 770.4 .D6317 2011

How to raise emotionally healthy children. Vol. 1 : babies
23 min; DVD
InJoy, 2013
This interactive program teaches parents how to create an emotional connection so their child can thrive. Focusing on relational parenting, it features an overview of emotional needs, common parent-child conflicts, and how parents can modify their reactions to meet their child’s critical emotional needs: to feel respected, important, accepted, included, and secure. Parents will also learn skills to help reduce stress and maintain their own emotional health.
Call#: LB 1139.23 .H69 2013 Vol.1

Managing difficult behaviors694 min; dvd Healthy Learning, 2012
This DVD discusses challenging behavior and how to promote positive behavior in children.
Call#: HQ 770.4 .M3116 2012

Parenting Basics. Emotional health & positive discipline: 7-12 months
9 min; DVD
InJoy, 2016
This DVD teaches young parents how to build a loving and trusting relationship through emotional health and positive discipline.
Call#: WS 103 .P217 2016 Vol. 1

Active Parenting. Responsibility & discipline
30 min; DVD
Active Parenting Publishers, 2014
Master proven, nonviolent discipline techniques that also teach responsibility; discover how to use effective “I” messages; discover the value of logical consequences and how to use them.
Call#: HQ 770.4 .A383 2014


The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations
This federally funded project supports the capacity of state systems and local programs in implementing an early childhood multi-tiered system of support to improve the social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes of young children with, and at risk for, developmental disabilities or delays.


Young Exceptional Children, 19(1),3-15
The ABCs of Challenging Behavior: Understanding Basic Concepts
Hedda Meadan, et al. (2014)
This article discusses basic behavioral concepts to provide family members and professionals with practical and essential knowledge about challenging behavior, the reasons it occurs, and the process by which adults can effectively select strategies to prevent or intervene on these behaviors.

Young Exceptional Children, 22(4), 198-213
Coaching to Build Parent Competency in Addressing Early Challenging Behaviors
Zhe Gigi An, et al. (2018)
The purpose of this article is to discuss how a parent coaching framework with the support of several critical components can be applied to build parent competency as a way to address children’s challenging behaviors. With coaching, parents and service providers can partner to effectively support young children’s appropriate behaviors, decrease or eliminate challenging behaviors, and improve family quality of life.

Web Resources

Creating Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior
This toolkit includes many resources to help support children with challenging behavior in the classroom and other learning environments. It includes information on visual strategies, scripted stories, circle time, emotional vocabulary, and routine based supports.

NAEYC’s Guidance and Challenging Behaviors Resources
This list of resources from the National Association for the Education of Young Children provides information for families and child care providers.

Resources for Caregivers
These infographics from Barton Lab provide tips on preventing challenging behavior and using visual cues and prompts with young children.

Supporting Children with Challenging Behavior
This video, produced for Head Start programs, is a recorded webinar that offers strategies for classroom teachers on proactive planning to prevent challenging behaviors. Information is applicable to center-based programs and uses the Pyramid Model to design systems.

Related Resource(s)