Pre-school Teachers’ Perceived Control and Behaviour Problems in Children

Sammanfattning: In this thesis, pre-school teachers’ perceived control, is examined in relation to problem behaviours of children and the actions of teachers in the classroom. In addition, other factors that are thought to relate to teachers’ perceived control were studied.The results of Study I indicate that pre-school teachers’ high perceived control was related to high intentions to act in the event of child behaviour problems. Teachers’ high satisfaction with their work was also related to high perceived control. Study II showed that low perceived control was associated with having a high proportion of children with a high level of externalising behaviours and of boys in the classroom. Study III shows that children who had a high level of externalising behaviours at the beginning and throughout the school year had teachers with low perceived control. Teachers’ perceived control was not related to their perception of internalising behaviours in the same way as to externalising behaviours and it was unrelated to a change in any direction of problem behaviours. Concerning changes in problem behaviours, no other factor was found, except a low child to adult ratio for a positive change of internalising behaviours. In Study IV, the aim was to examine naturally occurring child–teacher interactions. Teachers’ responding with commands to children was associated with teachers’ low perceived control, whereas restrictive teacher responses were not related to teachers’ perceived control.The present study indicates that teachers’ perceptions of children are important for their perceived control. It provides evidence that teachers’ low perceived control is associated with their difficulties in handling externalising behaviours and the behaviour of the boys in the classroom. Responding to problem behaviours can be explained by teachers’ perceived control, and their perception of a child’s sex and externalising behaviours.