As Early Years Practitioners you have the opportunity to make a huge difference in a child’s life in many ways. Think about how you can shape a child’s whole future if they come into nursery disruptive and misbehaving but leave to go to school eager to learn and well behaved.

It is possible to transform any child’s behaviour with the right approach and by remembering that a child’s behaviour is shaped by their thoughts, which means that if you want positive behaviour you have to encourage children to have positive thoughts and feel good about their selves.

This leaves you with a daily challenge of using only positive techniques that really work and are proven to bring out the best in all children. Here is one very effective positive way to promote good behaviour in your childcare setting which will have a long lasting positive effect on every child.


Quiet time, is a perfect time for children to just sit quietly and calm down and it helps you to simply get on with your work with minimum disruption.  A child can be taken to quiet time without the whole class knowing and it is most effective when you simply, quietly and calmly walk up to a child and ask them to come to quiet time.

Quiet time is not to be confused with the naughty spot or naughty chair. There is a different negative feeling to being on the naughty spot, than there is to having quiet time.  The naughty chair implies that the child is naughty, which is of course negative and unhelpful.  Quiet time is not about making a child feel bad but an opportunity for a child to be taken out of a disruptive situation and as a consequence for unwanted behaviour.  This way you are far more likely to end unwanted behaviour rather than temporarily distracted a child from it.

  • Rules of quiet time

Let the children know the rules before you need to use quiet time for the first time.  Pick a good time to introduce it and let the children know that there is no more naughty spot (if you use it) but that they will have quiet time if they are misbehaving. Here are some rules that you can tell the children about quiet time.

Children’s rules of quiet time; 3-9 year olds

  1. You will have to go to quiet time if you misbehave
  2. You will stay in quiet time for 4 minutes (one minute per year old)
  3. Quiet time means that you will have to sit in a chair by the teacher or standing or sitting by them when we are outside
  4. Quiet time starts when you are sitting quietly
  5. If you start to make a fuss, talk, or leave quiet time, the time starts again when you are sitting still again
  6. You can leave quiet time when the teachers say it is time You are not to talk to anyone when you are in quiet time

Quiet time for 18 month -3 year olds

Very young child can benefit from quiet time although they will not remember or understand rules so will need to use it where appropriate and will not be able to have explained the rules as such beforehand.

You will only need to use it as a last resort and sparingly to help a child calm down by sitting by you for a short time.


Practitioners rules for quiet time

  1. Use quiet time when children will not comply with the nursery rules and you have used a fitting consequences but the behaviour is persisting.
  2. Quiet time is on a chair or on the floor next to you
  3. Quiet time is for 1 minute for every year of their lives and it starts from when they are sitting still and quiet. (be accurate on this and make sure you time it, if you want it to be effective)
  4. When in quiet time don’t give the child attention
  5. Quiet time needs to be used consistently for unwanted behaviour.  You may find you are using it several times a day at first, but this will become less frequent as the children begin to adjust to your new rules and positive actions.
  6. If a child tries to leave quiet time or gets upset, take their hand and put them back into quiet time, for the first time you can say, you need to sit in quiet time, but anytime after that don’t speak to them, just take them back to quiet time.
  7. When quiet time is over you can tell the child that quiet time has finished and add, “thank you for sitting nicely”.  Then direct them to what you want them to do, which may be to do what you asked them before they went into quiet time.

So remember that quiet time is all about keeping a positive relationship with the children because this way you will bring out a child’s natural desire to please you.  It gives you a chance to promote good behaviour and show children by example how you want them to behave.

Have you tried the ‘Quiet time’ approach? What practices do you employ in your nursery to encourage positive child behaviour?

For further details of staff training days and parent courses, contact Ruth at childbehaviour@aol.com or go to the Child Behaviour website for more details.

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