Young children and challenging behavior: Issues and considerations for behavior support.


The critical importance of intervening early to promote the social and emotional development of young children is a recurring theme in several reports commissioned by national organizations and leaders (i.e., Child Mental Health Foundations and Agencies Network; National Research Council of the Institute of Medicine; U.S. Surgeon General). There is an increasing awareness that social-emotional difficulties and problem behaviors in young children are highly likely to continue in school. In addition, young children who show the most chronicity and stability of problem behavior are more likely to be members of families who experience marital distress, parental depression, and poverty. Young children in urban environments who have problem behavior are likely to also face challenges in health, poverty, and access to quality childcare and other services. In this article, the complexity of the urban context is described with a focus on the lives of young children and their families. The authors present a discussion of appropriate practices and research that provides a foundation for the development of effective early intervention programs for young children affected by environmental and developmental challenges. The emphasis of program recommendations is on comprehensiveness in the design of family-centered behavioral support options.


Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions


  • Glen Dunlap
  • Lise Fox
  • D. Powell

Prevention Level

  • Tertiary


  • Parents
  • PBS Coaches
  • PBS Teams
  • Specialists

System Impact

  • Individual Student


  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Elementary School
  • Families
  • Mental Health