You can’t correct a child
you don’t connect first.
like to be understood. But it’s sometimes not easy to understand a child.
Especially one that is throwing a tantrum or being aggressive. What is there to
understand when they won’t stop? You don’t even know where to start or how to
deal with this situation that keeps occurring. You are already out of ideas and
it’s not like you haven’t tried before. You are starting to dread coming to
teach because of these recurring situations… Meanwhile, you have 12 other kids
waiting for your direction on the next activity.
is where the Teacher-Child Interaction Training (TCIT)* comes in. This is a
program that works one on one with early childhood teachers (who work with kids
between the ages of 2.5 and 7 years) on how to better connect with these
children who are having difficulty with aggressive behavior in the classroom
setting. The issue is more common than you would think.
Ten to twenty-two percent of
kids are struggling with these types of behavior (behavioral challenges and
psychological disorders) and many teachers were not feeling confident that they
had the necessary skills to work with the issues at hand. Also, research tells
us that adverse outcomes of emotional and behavior problems in early childhood,
which are not treated appropriately lead to expulsion, decreased likelihood of
receiving positive feedback and instruction from teachers, more likely to be
held back early in their educational career and drop out once into adolescence,
less likely to succeed in academic tasks and more likely to engage in
delinquent behavior, and in general, are at risk for poor social, emotional,
and cognitive outcomes.
This is why the Office of Child
Development’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) team has partnered
with The Mathilda Theiss Child Development Center of WPIC to implement the TCIT
model. Teachers interact with the children in their class for many hours of the
day each day. It is a golden opportunity to try to improve these children’s
outcomes within that setting, as it will reap them many positive benefits later
in life. TCIT is about building relationships with those children; the ones
that teachers can – despite their best intentions – find the most difficult and
frustrating. The program offers teachers the perspective that they are being "Paid
to play"! This makes a huge difference, and already the ECMHC team has seen
positive cases and are excited to grow their reach.
program is really hands-on. This means that teachers receive professional
development from an ECMH consultant and then receive intensive follow-up
coaching from the consultant. Just like with anything in life, one can be told how to do something, but they can
also be shown. Any person can be told
how to play basketball, but if it remains conceptual it will be really
difficult to actually play. If a person is instead taken on the court to play,
then it is memorable and makes it easier to apply because they know what it’s
like. That’s why the TCIT model is an intense direct coaching style within the
classroom. Doing so ensures that the theory is brought to practice and brings
it to reality with real life children and practical situations.
program is structured in two phases. The first asks teachers to just focus on
how they interact with the child. They work with a child for 5 minutes every day
as homework. The Early Childhood Mental Health consultant is there to provide
live feedback and coaching. The first
TCIT skill set that is measured is the use of the "PRIDE" skills. PRIDE stands
for these interaction items below:
Once the teacher has mastered
this phase, which is the Child Directed Interaction model (CDI), the teachers
then move toward second phase, the Teacher Directed Interaction model (TDI).
Here, teachers learn how to give clearer and more positive and consistent
instruction, according to best practice. In this phase, the teachers give more
direction and implement the “Sit and Watch” strategies among others. “Sit and
Watch” strategies differ from the standard “time out” by engaging the child in
learning as they watch other kids behave well, therefore understanding that
they are not playing with the other kids because they were behaving improperly.
Teachers love the positive intent of the Sit and Watch technique and feel that
it is a better fit for an early care and education setting than time out. The
positive outlook and reinforcement impacts both the child and the teacher!
The core features of this
program are that intense children are given positive praise which is something
they are not used to hearing. Improved behavior is immediately noticeable. Just
from this one simple step! After just a few weeks of TCIT implementation, teachers
become like magnets to the children who love the new strategy and respond
positively to the reinforcement. By the end of the program, the cases show that
the children had a better temperament, and the teachers also felt more
confident in handling the classroom, and felt that they were being more
effective and less stressed at their job.
The TCIT model is a
collaborative effort on multiple levels. It builds on a significant body of
research, with its key focus is on developing, testing and adapting a model for
use in an arena that has not been used in previously. It helps bring research
What are some of the positive
outcomes of this model?
- Increase teacher’s use of positive
communication and attention skills.
- Increase child compliance to teacher
- Increase in positive teacher-child relationship.
- Decrease in disruptive, aggressive, and
For more information, contact
Sharon Geibel at firstname.lastname@example.org
*The TCIT model is based on
its, also very successful, counterpart, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).