Date of Conferral







Patricia N. Anderson



Challenging behavior is an expected part of development among preschool children, but

persistent disruptive behaviors can lead to teacher stress and burnout and negative

student-teacher relationships. Challenging behaviors are disruptive behaviors that

interfere with teaching and learning and can sometimes threaten the safety of children

and teachers in the classroom. According to current research, students’ academic success

is contingent on the nature of the relationships they have with their teachers. The purpose

of this basic qualitative study was to explore preschool teachers’ perspectives regarding

challenging behaviors and how the strategies they use to manage such behaviors could

affect relationships with students who exhibit challenging behaviors. Research questions

focused on teacher description of how challenging behavior and their response to this

behavior affects their relationship with the child. Lazarus and Folkman’s transactional

model of stress and coping served as this study’s conceptual framework for this study.

Data for this study were gathered from 10 Head Start teachers who were interviewed

using the think-aloud interview method applied to scenarios depicting challenging

behavior that were drawn from actual events. Thematic coding was applied to the

resulting data to answer the study’s research questions. Study findings showed that most

teachers believed challenging behaviors and behavior management do not affect their

teacher-student relationships, but some teachers felt threatened by children who exhibit

challenging behavior. The findings of this study may support the inclusive perspective of

Head Start teachers in response to challenging behaviors and may lead to increased

support for teachers and the children they serve.