Free Spirit Publishing 1.800.735.7323

Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior

Create Responsive Environments Where Young Children Thrive


When teachers create environments that teach skills rather than punish individual actions, they reduce behavior problems and nurture the growth of all learners. This book expertly guides early childhood teachers to analyze their classroom elements, routines, and responses to children. Much like gardeners who adjust soil, water, or fertilizer to help flowers bloom, educators of young children must look beyond challenging behaviors to what a child’s actions are communicating about her learning environment or home life. Digital content includes all forms from the book along with a PDF presentation.


Paperback $34.99 81753 Paperback 81753 $34.99

View where you can purchase the eBook.

ISBN: 978-1-63198-175-3
Audience: Teachers and directors in early childhood education (ages birth–6), parents, counselors
Trim Size: 8.5" x 11"
Page Count: 192
Digital Content: Includes all forms from the book along with a PDF presentation.
Praise for Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior:

“This book will help you reduce behavior problems and nurture the growth of all learners.”—Learning magazine

“A comprehensive manual for teachers and other adults who work with young students whose behavior is considered challenging. Recommended.”—School Library Connection

“This book is a must-have for all early education professionals! It is an accessible, comprehensive primer for those new to the field, giving you a wealth of both proactive and reactive strategies and resources that will create a successful, thriving community of young learners. Experienced educators will also find the book solidly grounded in well-established theory and research but written with a fresh voice that will provoke your thinking, provide new ideas, and add value to your classroom practices. If you follow Ms. Salcedo's sound advice, your ‘garden’ of seedlings will surely blossom and grow. Highly recommend!”—Richard Cohen, M.A., international early education motivational speaker and consultant
“Helping young children develop into socially competent and caring adults starts early. In Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior, Michelle Salcedo provides a wealth of information for teachers at all levels. She includes strategies for establishing the classroom environment and effective guidance techniques for teachers to try in their own classrooms. Teachers will find her ideas, charts, and stories helpful for not only critically examining their own behavior, but also working to develop the key relationships and appropriate learning settings that truly help children thrive.”—Karen Menke Paciorek, Ph.D., professor, Early Childhood Education & Children and Families at Eastern Michigan University
Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behaviors is one of those books that will be looked at frequently. It does a marvelous job simplifying why challenging behaviors occur and the best ways to prevent them. Informative and engaging, the ideas can be used immediately. Everyone should keep this book where you can pull it out for a quick solution.”—Daniel Hodgins, author of Boys: Changing the Classroom, Not the Child and Get Over It! Relearning Guidance Practices.
“If you are seeking practical, specific, and supportive ways to create classroom environments, step right this way. In Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior, Michelle Salcedo reminds us behavior is a powerful form of communication. She provides practical suggestions and concrete examples on how to create classroom environments that support educators in hearing this communication and meeting the often unmet needs of children.”—Brigid Beaubien, Ph.D., professor, Teacher Education, Eastern Michigan University
“All teachers struggle with behavior issues that perplex them—what to do when Johnny won’t sit at circle time, when Meg lashes out, when Enrique keeps disturbing his classmates. But what if we could create classroom environments that help prevent these behaviors from happening in the first place? With this important book, early childhood expert Michelle Salcedo offers specific, carefully considered, research-based strategies and ideas that will make your classroom as effective, responsive, and joyful as possible . . . an abundant garden of blooming possibilities!”—Diane Ohanesian, early childhood development specialist, former editor-in-chief of Early Childhood Today, and author of Hugga Bugga Love
“Early care professionals spend an exorbitant amount of time brainstorming appropriate responses to inappropriate behaviors displayed in the classroom. Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior is an excellent tool that can be used to support the paradigm shift from reactive to proactive classroom guidance. Michelle Salcedo captures the transition from theory to practice by identifying essential components needed to support students through a vulnerable stage of development. Teachers walk away with specific strategies that can be immediately used in the classroom.”—Shelia Lewis, Ed.D., early childhood educator 
“This book offers a variety of ways to address challenging behavior: analyzing your environment, evaluating your schedule and materials, and offering suggestions about how you build relationships with children in your care. Most importantly, Michelle Salcedo encourages us to ask the question, ‘What are children telling us with their behavior?’ As you uncover the answers to that question, you can help find ways to ensure each child feels safe, valued, and heard.”—Sandra Heidemann, M.S., coauthor of The Thinking Teacher: A Framework for Intentional Teaching in the Early Childhood Classroom
Executive Functioning: Creating Critical Thinkers and Creative Problem Solvers

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
—Margaret Mead

We don’t know the world for which we are educating our children. When I was a child, I was promised flying cars. And while that has not yet happened, I do walk around with an incredibly powerful computer in my pocket—a device that has rendered meaningless all the hours I spent memorizing discrete facts (except for an occasional victory at trivia night). Most of us can neither imagine the future nor predict the skills and knowledge children will need to successfully navigate the workforce they will enter. However, we know that if children are able to analyze a problem, approach it with critical and creative thinking, and prioritize and implement a solution, they will probably be okay—no matter what the future holds.

Continue reading on the Free Spirit Blog.
What You Can Do Today to Lessen Challenging Behaviors Tomorrow
A Free Webinar with Michelle Salcedo, M.Ed.

Join Free Spirit’s edWeb community, Social-Emotional Learning, Positive Behavior, and Student Achievement, to take a short quiz based on the webinar below and earn a free CE credit.

Related Resources

Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior PLC
Strategies and activity ideas to support emotional development in children.
Be prepared to respond to a wide range of potentially tough questions posed by young children.
Finding Your Way Through Conflict: Strategies for Early Childhood Educators
30 hands-on lessons provide students opportunities to learn and practice self-regulation strategies
Intentional Teaching in Early Childhood
Hands Are Not for Hitting

User Reviews

Sort By:
June 14, 2021 / Linda Dashnaw - Potsdam, NY
An essential guide

FIVE STARS for Free Spirit!!! This book has a digital content link, sample worksheets and forms to assist parents, teachers and most of all, children. The essence of the book are FIVE CHANGES that we can make today: 1) Incorporate active learning “H.O.M.E.S.” which is an anacronym for a Hands-on, Open-ended, Meaningful, Engaging, and Sensory-oriented curriculum; 2) Lesson sensory overstimulation; 3) Allow for movement; 4) Define expectations, and 5) Be joyful and have fun! As a parent and/or teacher, you are responsible for providing a caring, nurturing environment to help children grow and reach their full potential. This is an essential guide for making that happen. If behavior is communication, what is the challenging child trying to tell us?

April 23, 2018 / Samantha Coontz
Applicable and user-friendly

This book study helps guide learners through an introspective journey through children's behavior as a communication tool and our responses to them. Identifying behaviors in conjunction with examining our learning environments and our own approaches to resolving behaviors naturally builds in a compassion and empathy piece we neglect when we are emotionally invested in working with challenging behaviors. Too often we tell teachers what they can not do, this tool encourages teachers to explore effective ways to address and eliminate challenging behaviors by laying the ground work for a peaceful classroom early on.


Free Spirit’s monthly e-newsletter, Upbeat News, is full of practical tips, free downloads, and special offers. Sign up today!