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The present article provides a literature review and describes a study examining the effect of teaching young children (7–12 years of age) with social and emotional difficulties to use intelligent behaviours habitually when faced with a problem. While embedding a ‘habits of mind’ (HOM) approach into the whole-school programme has become popular in many Australian schools, as it is in the UK and USA, there is limited research on its impact on children who display challenging behaviours. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from an Australian primary school through teacher and parent workshops, surveys and interviews with staff, students and parents. The results of this small preliminary study indicate an increase for each of the HOM investigated, with a general decline in problematic behaviours. The most prominent reported changes were increased persistence at a given task, followed by applying past knowledge to new situations, listening to others with understanding and empathy, improvements in managing impulsivity, and thinking flexibly. Limitations of the study and possibilities for future research are discussed.


School of Education

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Journal Article

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