Date of Conferral







Sallie J. Jenkins


Expulsion rates for children occur at a rate of 10 children per every 1,000 enrolled in center-based early learning programs. The inability of teachers to manage the challenging behaviors of children contributes to these rates. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to answer the research question that inquired how teachers’ perceptions of their own social emotional competence influenced their responses to children with challenging behaviors. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning’s social emotional learning framework served as the foundation for the interview protocol questions. Data were gathered during semistructured interview from 6 teachers who met the participant criteria and analyzed using a thematic and inductive approach. The inclusion criteria included teachers with at least 1 year of experience working with children ages 2-5 years, and who have at least 12 units of early childhood education or a bachelor’s degree. Results indicated discrepancies in participants’ perceptions of their self-confidence with variances between their professional and personal lives. In their responses to the scenarios that illustrated challenging behaviors, participants emphasized the importance of respecting the rights of children and understanding the underlying factors that contributed to those behaviors. Findings suggest the need for a more hands-on approach to better support teachers’ efforts in managing challenging behaviors in children, which in turn can potentially reduce the number of preschool expulsions in center-based programs. Results promoted positive social change by extending our understanding of the influence of the teacher-child relationship on the behaviors of children, specifically challenging behaviors.