3 Year Old Behavior Problems...Possibly Being Kicked Out of Preschool!

Updated on July 12, 2012
A.R. asks from Milford, OH
13 answers

I have a 3yr old daughter. She turned 3 in March and currently attends preschool. She went to a private preschool until two months ago and then I moved her to a public preschool. She has always been a sweet and loving child until lately.

Her teachers at preschool have started giving me daily behavior reports about how my daughter kicks or hits the other children in her class. There are at most 10 kids in the class and one teacher and sometimes an aide. The reports vary from hitting to kicking other children in the face. Today the teacher told me that she kicked another child in the face and the child's parents have called the school wanting my daughter removed from the classroom and the school. At school the teachers use timeouts and taking away recess privileges to which they say my daughter does not respond too. They say that this is all they are allowed to do. At my daughters other preschool I had a few reports of her not listening but never anything like this.

If my daughter has a bad day at school of hitting and kicking we do not let her have any snacks, take away TV time and make her spend time in her room. She does not seem to respond to any of these punishments. We talk to her daily about being nice and treating others how she would want to be treated and she just doesn't seem to understand. We ask her why she hits and kicks the other kids and she just says that she doesn't do it.

The teacher says my daughter is the only one in the class with a behavior problem and none of the other kids bother or provoke her. The teachers say they talk to her about her behavior but she just tells them that she didn't do it even though they watched her hit another child. Her teacher says she is not aggressive to the other children but out of nowhere just kicks someone in the face.

I am at my wits end. The teacher says the other children's parents are so upset and calling the school demanding them to remove my daughter from the class.

I do have an older daughter who is 7 and the two of them do not get along at all. As soon as they are in the same room together they are fighting and crying and can't play together at all.

When I am alone with my daughter she is so sweet and hugs and kisses me. I don't know what to do about this behavior. I was hoping someone had another suggestion of what to try.

I also wanted to add that myself and my husband work full time and so she has to attend some sort of preschool.

Thanks so much!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers


answers from New York on

Something doesn't make sense. She is unhappy in her school environment. I say take her out of there, and put her in another one. Maybe you can take a day off work and go observe (without being in the room) her at school?

Stop punishing. Figure out what is going on. She is 3 years old and is acting out because she cannot properly communicate her feelings. You need to figure out what the deal is.

Also is she eating well? Sleeping enough? Does she get a nap every day? Is there a time of day when the bad behavior happens?
Any other big changes recently?

Calm down, and analyze this situation and get to the root of it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

Maybe she needs to wait until next year to do preschool... It's really not fair to the other children or the teachers to have to put up with her if she is going to be acting like this, and nothing they can do works.

Until then, I would find a play group where YOU can observe her with other children her age. That way, you can correct her behavior yourself. It would be much easier for you to do than the teachers who have the other 10 children to supervise as well, and are severely restricted in what they are not allowed to do.

p.s. My little cousin had the same issue... he got kicked out of preschool for being too vicious toward the other children... the next year they tried again and he did just fine. :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would look hard for a preschool that does NOT do time outs or other punishment. And I would stop taking things away from her hours after her behavior happened. She is too young to consider if she does A now, she will lose B tonight. She is years away from this kind of impulse control. All threatening her with punishment will do is make her mad - and immediately learning shuts off.

She is acting this way because she lacks the tools to get what she wants in a socially acceptable way. She needs someone to help her learn these things. And she will not get this in a punitive environment. I would look for a program that emphasizes positive discipline. If you cannot find that, consider a Montessori program - they are all different - but ours emphasizes communicating with the students and having a teacher coach a student through an interaction that is going poorly. You might also consider a Waldorf or Steiner program.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think it may help to put her into a social skills group at a local child psychologists office. I think they can help give you a better idea of what is going on and help give your daughter coping skills.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Definitely go observe. She is telling you that she isn't happy. I had this same experience with my speech delayed son when he had just turned 5. He constantly came home with negative reports and the teacher was pretty terrible when I finally pulled him out. She had been using a reward chart that I had given her to try by putting FROWNY FACES all over it. DS was supposed to have 3 dimensions that he had to do well on each day.

Unbeknownst to me, she increased it to 9 dimensions and had used it all of that last week to record forwny faces and show that to him. GGGRRRRRR. IT makes me angry just thinking back on it (that was last fall). I observed him a couple of times that last week and the teacher was truly making up some things. For example, she claimed that he hit her once while I was watching without her knowledge. He most certainly HAD NOT. She started to send him to the office when I walked in.

The school had the audacity to tell us that he was likely autistic because of his behavior issues. While we haven't had him tested, we think he is gifted, which brings on a whole 'nother set of issues in a classroom if the child is not challenged. We tried to get the school to see that. They wouldn't. Since then, btw, the school district has evaluated him and also believes that he is gifted.

The next preschool he flat out told us that he didn't want to be there. We went a month with awful reports of spitting at others, ripping down artwork, throwing things (out of fun), etc, etc, etc. I cried alot. My DS was spanked for the first time in his 5 years several times over that month. We were eventaully called in on what turned out to be his last day there, when DH said to him in the director's office, you need to go play with your friends, not go home. DS said that he didn't like it there and wantd to go home. DH said no. DS said "I will spit in the director's face and then you will have to take me home." DH said no you won't. DS turned and spit in her face and then looked at DH and said now you have to take me home. :-0

The 3rd preschool in January of this year took him on in a different light. They acknowledged his speech delay, they acknowledge his intelligence and then worked with him in a way that has allowed to to absolutely LOVE his present preschool. He is excited to go there. The only time we really got behavioral reports was early on when he wouldn't transition to new activities or when he demanded information that the teachers either couldn't answer or didn't have time to answer! But he has settled out of that even.

You have to find the right place. DS told us with his actions last fall when he was still struggling with his speech, He told us verbally in the winter when speech wasn't hindering him as much anymore. And now he tells us verbally, emotionally, and physically that he LOVE his new preschool.

Your DD is telling you something is wrong and that she is likely in the wrong place. You have to listen. Go observe and see what the deal is.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Since she is fine and sweet and hugs and kisses you when the other daughter is not there it sounds to me like she is wanting all of your attention and will do anything to get it. I would sit down with her and tell her what you expect out of her at preschool and what will happen if she doesn't do it and then maybe do a reward of some kind, such as a chart, for when she does to the right things at school. Some kids do better with rewards for good behavior than drawing attention to the bad as that's what they want...attention. I would not let the girls fight at home either. Separate them until they can get along and discipline them both, the older too, for fighting. Maybe the older sister fighting with her is frustrating her too and she takes it out at school on kids her size and age. I would make some changes in the fighting and getting along at home first. If you could visit the school and watch her behavior without her seeing you that might give you some clues as to what the problem is.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Start looking for another preschool ASAP. Your child is about to be kicked out. I've been through this and there was only one parent complaint to get our son kicked out. Our son has ADHD and did fine once he was treated, but that was one traumatic time for all of us. Six years later, he still remembers being kicked out.

I agree with the point about meeting with a child psychologist. You can get some tips to help at the next preschool. A psychologist can't diagnose anything (if there even is a condition involved), but can offer strategies to help your daughter.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Lots of good suggestions here.

Now, per your 7 year old and your 3 year old. That is 4 years, difference.
My kids are 4 years apart as well.
In order to be fair, to them, I take consideration of their ages and development, per their respective ages. I do not EXPECT them to be the same. They are not. 4 years is a an age spread.
My daughter, who is the older one, knows that her younger brother is not the same as her, thus, she cannot "expect" him to understand things like she does. How does she know that? Because, I spend a lot of time talking with her about age development and how, she and her brother are developmentally not the same. So her expectations of him, are fairer.
But I never expect my daughter, to parent him. That is my job.

Then for my youngest, my son, I teach him about communication and problem solving and speaking up and saying his feelings. To us. This enables him to facilitate... what is going on in his head or emotions. And I teach him coping skills etc. I did this with both my kids from when they were 2 years old. If he is frustrated, then he knows he can say it or express it. And, this helps a lot.
And each of them need time, to themselves or just with me or my Husband. I have taught them "quality time" too, and to say when they need that, from me. If I am forgetful about it. So they don't get frustrated.
And I don't expect them to "share" everything, or to have to be doing things together all the time. Teaching them about "personal space" and to say, their needs, too. To me. So that helps a great deal. As well.
Otherwise, siblings can get on each other's nerves.

Or if one child is more "controlling" & rigid or territorial than the other, then there will be problems. I know, I have a sibling that was like that.

Try to teach your kids, that family means looking out for each other, and having each other's back. That is important... they have each other. And you are all family.

Teach your kids about the word "compromise." When my daughter was 2 years old, that is one of the first words I taught her. And then for my son when he was 2. And how this word, is important for family. And to get along.

This is hard. Your daughter may be expelled.
The teachers have witnessed this.
And the other parents are upset.
The school has done what they can, given their "rules."

Maybe get your daughter an assessment.

I also know of a girl, my daughter's classmate, that has a younger brother. They have a tenuous relationship. But it is because (this girl vented to me once about it), SHE has to always mind her younger sibling... babysitting him and playing with him, and doing so many things with him. Because her parents both are very busy and work etc. But so that means, she has no fun, of her own. And she gets deeply frustrated by this. And they both fight. She is just a girl. And being a parent to her younger brother, is too much for her. But her parents think she is older, thus able... to do it. And that that is her "job" as an older sibling.
But the younger sibling, is hard to handle. I have seen it myself.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

At three, your daughter does not really understand that consequences that happen hours after an event are connected to her earlier behavior. Even if she understands that, the part of her brain that can tell her "If I do that I'll get in trouble" won't be especially well-developed for another couple of years. Some 3yo's have very little impulse control, some have at least some.

But it sounds like your daughter has a pretty stressed and disappointing life, and maybe lonely, if she gets privileges denied frequently both at home and at school. Stressed and disappointed children act out – they know no other way to try to meet their emotional needs. She can't know how inappropriate her choices are or what other choices she may have, because her pool of experiences and successes is so small.

You say she's so sweet when you are giving her one-on-one attention. There's a great deal of information in that. Might you consider, instead of punishment when she has a bad day, the reward of a bit of extra time and appreciation from you when she has a better day?

That would still hold the problem of being too distant from the actual behavior, but she might relate well to a symbol of promised Mommy time, maybe a bracelet that reminds her to be kind now and be appreciated later. Give her a little scenario each morning before you drop her off of how a little girl with a bracelet like this remembers to smile, cooperate, and be gentle. Of course, use words that your daughter knows. Puppets can act out scenes of good behavior/choices in a way that can be more memorable and helpful for children.

It may be too late to mollify the other parents. Not being there to see the structure, it's hard to say, but it sounds as though the childcare workers may not be very well trained, or they may not have a large enough staff to really keep tabs on all the children. The usual and most effective response to biting or hitting in a preschool is to assign an adult to shadow the child in question, anticipate and stop the negative behavior. Taking away privileges simply does not connect for all children.

If you do have to find a new child care provider, be sure to mention your daughter's history, and ask what their procedure is for correcting this behavior. You can't do it yourself if you're not there.

Wishing you all the best.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

She obviously misses you and wants to spend time with you.

Spend as much free time with her as you possibly can.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Can you take one or two days off of work to observe her in the classroom and see what she's like? Maybe you would pick up on a cue or provocation that the teachers wouldn't notice since they don't know your daughter as well.

Find out if the incidents are happening at certain times of day. Could she be acting out more when she is hungry or tired?

It's possible that the school just isn't the right fit for her. Maybe the structure of the day, the personality of the teacher, or the activities they do just aren't right for her. Maybe she misses her old school.

Where I live, we have an organization through the school district that provides various services for preschoolers. One of these is to assign a shadow to your child. This is a trained adult who attends class daily with your child, usually for 2-4 weeks, to observe and correct behavior as needed. It lets the teacher do her job but also makes sure your daughter's needs are being met. talk to her teachers and/or the school system to see if anything similar exists where you are.

Also, for all we hear about the Terrible Twos, many of my friends and I agree that the Threes are actually far worse. So it's possible that some of this may be a phase.

How well does your daughter talk and communicate? Does she understand the difference between lies and the truth?

I commend you for doing what you can to correct the problem. So many parents refuse to believe that their child is anything but perfect. I hope you're able to figure out why she's behaving this way so you can help her quickly move past it.

One last thing: if you do have to change preschools, be prepared for another rough transition and do your best to help her feel as comfortable as possible at the new school.



answers from Toledo on

Sorry about your situation. I wonder if the sister has anything to do with it. Maybe your younger daughter is learning some fighting habits. If I were in your situation, I would look at their behavior together and try to turn it around.
Not quite sure what to about the school situation, though. I hope things work out!



answers from Columbus on

Is she retaliating because she wants to go back to her old school? (doesn't like new one)

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions