4 Year Old Acting Outta Preschool

Updated on April 06, 2013
J.W. asks from Tomball, TX
8 answers

My granddaughter has always liked preschool but lately she has been acting out. One day she threw she shoe other times she threw tantrum but today she slapped one of her friends and was sent to the office We don't know what to do. We have grounded her, sent her to her room, took away toys and television. She does well at home playing with her sister using a smiley face chart. Please help us! Until now she has always been so good at preschool.

Every time she acts out the teacher removes her from the classroom or as in the latest case sent her to the office and sent her home..

Could it be the fact that they live with me and I had 2 surgeries over Christmas and now doing chemo and about to lose my hair?

What can I do next?

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answers from New York on

You need to talk to the director and figure out a way to address the issues right then and there. Waiting until she gets home won't work. Agree on some on the spot consequences and privilege removals that the teacher should enact.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

At four years old, I believe that the school can have a consequence AND one can be applied at home. It is her job to follow directions and behave herself (be safe with her body and her words) at preschool. Should she have to be sent home for hurting others, it is reasonable that she not be allowed to have any 'currency' objects/privileges.

At school, they should be making sure she has the appropriate discipline. You hit? The teacher should be having her 'check in' with the offended child each and every time. Then, she needs to take a break on a bench until the teacher sees she's ready to acknowledge the problem, preferably in a place which is out of the main flow of play. No getting up or talking. She must just sit there until the teacher feels she may return.

Tantrums-- remove to a safe place where her carrying-on does not disturb others. When I had a preschool, slapping people and throwing things would have resulted in a phone call home at the first incident, the repeated incident would have been a call to pick up the child.

I understand it's inconvenient. I also know, as a mom, that when I remove my son from a place he likes because he is misbehaving--and remove him immediately-- it does make an impact. When a child is being unsafe with their body on purpose then they MUST leave that area. There is a huge difference between a small scuffle over a toy and some pushing/grabbing (which comes with the territory at this age) and actually slapping/throwing objects with the objective of hurting.

Has something come up in your family recently? Any new changes which your daughter is unhappy about?

I'd also try role-playing with puppets to both find out what's behind the behavior and to introduce/reinforce better ways of coping with anger and stress. Also positive prep (I do this with my son some mornings, when necessary) of "when Suzy says/does (whatever your Granddaughter takes umbrage at) you have choices. You can walk away from her. You can tell her what you are wanting, or you can ask a teacher to help you." Reminding her of her choices every day at a calm time in the morning before saying goodbye can help. I would spend my time doing that instead of reminding her about what NOT to do or the consequences for doing those negative things. Keep it positive during the goodbye time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Ditto Hazel. My guy who turns 4 next week (I'm raising my youngest grandchild) was hitting a couple of months after he started preschool in October and November, the school did as she suggested. It isn't just the school's problem so follow-through discipline at home that day was he lost a privelege like no Disney Jr that day, no going out for ice cream as we'd planned, etc., something to reinforce that bad choices are not rewarded, we weren't going to reward his bad behavior away from home.

We also went over class rules at home a couple of times a day, he knew them backwards, forwards, upside-down and could repeat them to me, so I had to fight frustration, he KNEW how to act but made bad choices. (And that is key, he wasn't a "bad" boy, he wasn't making good choices.) I elaborated on them, adding to "Keep our hands and feet to ourselves" - no spitting, no kicking, no choking, no pinching, no tripping, etc., if he'd exhibited that behavior over the past day or few days.

Each day was a new day, he was reminded of class rules and expected to make new choices.

Do look at any new stress in her life, a new sibling, a move, a relationship change, sleeping in a new room or bed, an illness in the family, the loss of a friend, etc. Good and bad changes can affect behavior because of frustration or anger. In our case my Mom, his Nana, was dying, we were doing in-home hospice, and they loved each other dearly. The director, his teacher and myself all saw this was a stressor in his life, the behavior stopped a couple of weeks after she passed. It was never an excuse for his poor choices, it just helped us know why he was making them.

Though it took a couple of months and passed, it took me, my family and the school working together. Your granddaughter needs to know her behavior is unacceptable, and that she has the power to make good choices. Be consistent until this phase passes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

She's not old enough to associate "I acted out at school so now I'm in trouble at home too". The school needs to give all the consequences from this.

Talking to her and being stern is of course correct. But taking away things at home isn't going to have any impact on how she acts at school.

I suggest they find out why she's having problems in this classroom. Maybe she's not being listened to. Maybe someone she plays with is saying mean things to her and making her feel bad, maybe she is not getting to take a nap on time and is just cranky. There are thousands of reason's she's acting out. It may take a couple of people asking her questions to find a reason. But listening to her will be the key, and translating what she said in to what is happening.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It's hard to discipline behavior that you don't see! I agree with Mommy of 1 in that the consequence has to come from the school and it has to be immediate. If not, she will not develop any respect for the school or her teachers and it will just get worse. Like I tell my children when they say their kids don't respect them like they respect me - you have to establish your own authority and gain your own respect with kids. No one can do that for you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

"Could it be the fact that they live with me and I had 2 surgeries over Christmas and now doing chemo and about to lose my hair?"

Sounds like a lot going on there. Just saying...



answers from Austin on

Ask her what she is sad about. Ask her what she is afraid of. Does she worry about you? Does she have questions about your chemo and hair loss? Reassure her that you will be there for her and how hard you will be fighting the sickness so you can be with her for a long time. Give her "jobs" to do that will help you. For example, tell her that when she sees you do ____, that you would like her to give you a hug. Or when you feel tired, you will need her to bring you things. Ask her if she can/would help you as you go through the healing process/cancer battle (whatever you call it). She might be feeling really helpless right now.

Hurt people hurt people. So I am guessing she is having some struggles.


answers from New York on

Yes the problems you are going through at home, and if she was living with other family members earlier, yes all those things are effecting her. Make sure the school knows her family history, knows about your health problems and is willing to work WITH her to help her through this. Good luck

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