Behavioral Issues at Preschool

Updated on November 23, 2009
A.E. asks from Keller, TX
10 answers

Moms, I really need your insight! I have a 3-year-old daughter (3 in June) who is exhibiting really bad behavior at preschool. Please bear with me! She attends 2 days a week for 5 hours each day which began on Sept. 1st. She has had only about 3 good days since she started. This is her first preschool experience and otherwise has been at home with mom and grandma watching her. She is out of control at school, and I am lost as to what to do at this point. We have not seen her pediatrician yet as we were trying to give her a chance to adjust, but I think she has had time by now to adjust, and things are not getting better. Her teachers say she just does not listen or follow directions, will not stay at her table (which she sits by herself at a table because she won't leave the other kids alone), picking at kids, putting her hands and feet on kids, hitting (not hard but still), throwing wood chips at people on the playground, and throwing her lunch and the floor and stomping on it and then trying to eat other kids food. She goes to time out several times a day I believe but repeatedly does the things she gets in trouble for. She is at the point now when she walks in her classroom she shuts her eyes and covers them when she sees her teachers the last 4 times we have gone in and says she doesn't want to go but will be fine before we get there. Now, the teacher told me that the parents/or a parent is starting to complain. We have talked to her until we are blue in the face, taken toys away, etc, and she can rehearse everything we have told her not to do and rewarded her on her good days. She is not a perfect angel at home all the time, but she does not exhibit this type of behavior and plays well with others when mommy and daddy are with her and can sit and focus if she is doing something that is keeping her attention, like she loves to read books. She is also a very, very bright little girl. I am concerned that she has a lot of signs of ADHD, but at the age of 3, I know it is going to be hard to get a diagnosis probably. I am at my wits end about now, and her teacher has even asked me to give her any suggestions I might have. It is of note that I think her father probably had/has ADHD but was never formerly diagnosed with it. I think we are on thin ice, but they are tolerating it so far because they think she really needs the social skills, but with other parents starting to complain, our journey may be short-lived if we don't figure something out. Not to mention that she still won't poop in the potty and isn't fully potty trained, so I am sure that is wearing on them as well. I need some of your insight as to what you are doing or did if you have had this problem, moms! Any insightful information and help is greatly appreciated, seriously...we need anything we can get at this point. Thank you!

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answers from Dallas on

OK, before we start thinking about what is "wrong" with your daugther, maybe we need to look at the school first. Could it be the school? Is there somethign wrong with this school perhaps? Does she go to sunday school or anything else that might give you an insight into her behavior when you're away.

Maybe this is just not the school for her. Not all Pre-K's are equal and a perfectly wonderful one might be perfectly awful for your child. You mention that she doesn't exibit this behavior at home so that just makes me wonder.

It's way too early to start talking adhd I think. It could be a speech related issue. Her receptive language skills might not be there quite yet. Children with receptive delays or disorders have difficulty listening to instructions, focusing, etc. Your Dr can refer you to a speech therapist if he or she feels this might help.

Regarding her social skills, have you considered joining a playgroup or MOMS Club type organization? This would also get her out with other children and would help give you a break too. I'd highly recommend you look into this.

Good luck with this all I know how some schools can make you feel just awful. If you feel her behavior is unique to this environment, try changing the environment. If she still runs into problems, then maybe she needs help. If she improves, maybe it wasn't her after all?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on


I use to be a director of learning center where we had 300 kids and many children that were similar to your daughter. At 3 1/2 she definitely understands what she is doing gets her attention.

First let me address the parents complaining issue. At 3 most kids can tell their parents who hit them, bite them etc. But by NO MEANS is a teacher allowed to tell a parent what child is doing something to their kid. This is against licensing to talk about another child with a diff parent. So if a parent "complains" about your child whether saying her name becuase their kid said it or addressing her as the child that keeps hitting my son etc. The teacher can not say your child's name or acknowledge that it is your daughter. This is out of the safety of you daughter. You don't know if one of those parents are "crazy." and would try to retaliate against your little one. This is the same reason "home-made" items are not allowed to be brought it for the reason that if a parent "posions" one etc.

Next issue. They should not be putting her in time out! Most daycares will not do this as it is looked about as a "negative" or corporal punishment in some eyes. Obviously it is not working for you daughter. Her are a few suggestions.

1. Ask that your daughter shadow a teacher. Meaning have your daughter hold her teachers pocket if needed. Wherever the teacher goes your child is right there. For 4 years I ran a successful 3 year old classroom. I have had 15 by myself as well as 30 with a 18 yo assist. I went over a yera without any incident reports etc. If your daughter is shadowing her teacher there is no reason that anything should be happening.

2. In the case a situation happens the child should be addressed as what the behavior was how it was wrong and how they should act. As a result of the second time they should be sent to a "Peace Place". To a 3 yo Peace Place is not a Negative Time Out. Instead it is a place that they can feel calm and collect their feelings away from others. Peace Place should only be for 1 child. They Preschool Should know how to make a Peace Place/Center and if not then this is how: Get a simple mat or carpet and place in a place away from others. There should be a basket that goes along with it. It should contain books about emotions and character values etc. (happiness, kindness, when sophie gets angry bookes etc) as well as puppets (even sock or lunch sack ones), sensory bottles (they should def know what these are), a stress ball and a mirror. This of this nature. So your daughter feels at ease. These are proven methods. There is no reason your daughter should be sent to a time out as it is obviously not working.

I stand by my opinions they worked for me. After just being in the industry 1 1/2 years I became a director for a reason.

As to the Pooping. She knows better. Simple as that. I think when the other issues are addressed this will come. My daughter was potty trained by 18 months except pooping. When she was a little over 2 the Private School she was going to go to told her she had to be fully potty trained. She never pooped in her underwear again.

You need to give her an incident to want to go. Sticker charts for the most part don't work. You need to take away something she loves. For my daughter she is a tv aholic. Even at 2 she understood what no tv meant. So for my daughter whether it was a beahavior issues etc. I let her know I would erase her shows off DVR etc and she would shape up. Let her "earn" her joys and passions. Take something away whether dessert or toy and put your foot down.

HTH if you need anymore ideas let me know.

[email protected]

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answers from Dallas on

wow, I'm sure this is so stressful for you so for that i'm sorry!!! My gut is telling me that maybe it's an attention thing...What's the student/teacher ratio? Maybe she needs to be in a setting where she's getting more one on one? I would look into a different school, with a lower ratio and see how that works before I would dig into the ad/hd realm. If this behavior is only present when she's at school, I'd change schools, know what I mean?



answers from Dallas on

I second the room mom idea. I don't think there is something "wrong" with her.



answers from Norfolk on

Well even though she is almost three, if you think she may have ADHD, you should talk to her doctor, she may even have bipolar from the sounds of it. My boyfriend is bipolar, and he sometimes acts like that...without the being three part and....well same thing but on a like level, but he also has it could be one or the other. The best thing you can do is talk to her doctor about your concerns, and help deal with it and it will get better.

Also good luck!



answers from Dallas on

My DS went through some similar issues. We ended up changing daycares and his behavior improved dramatically. The center he was at was too chaotic for his personality and my kiddo shut down. I like the room mom idea to see what is going on. Also, I think finding a play group, or a play group therapist could be helpful. If you are concerned whether there could be something more, I would consider going to a pediatric neurologiist. We went to Dr. So in Plano and he is good. He could confirm or ease your mind about whether she has ADHD. These are the things that we did and my son is now thriving in preschool. Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

Sounds like how our 3 yr. old was. I told her if she behaves and gets a happy face on her conduct paper she would get a special prize. After a week she came home with the happy face. We went straight to shopping. She gets to choose the prize. Every time she got a happy face we went shopping or did something nice for her. Help her pick small prizes. It took about a month , but now she behaves everyday. Rewards help big time. It does'nt have to be a toy, a new outfit, a trip to a favorite eatery, a special movie or even a day at the park with a picnic.You don't have to have to do anything that costs money. Just make it a special and fun day. Let her know on the way to school to behave and listen to the teacher and be nice to others and she will get to do something special. That way she will really work on it. But do this for about a month or so, then TELL her that she can be nice because she is a good big girl and if she does start to act up. rewards stop.


answers from Dallas on

We had similar issues with our youngest child of 4. To the point of seeking child counseling. She is now 8 & this is the first year that we are finally on track! It took a lot of effort. We have learned that she is a strong willed child. We have had to have clear boundaries & rules both at home & at school. We did not see progress until we began very strict clear rules & consequences at home & school. We would have some progress but not full progress until we became willing to be very consistent. We started by making a rules that were appropriate and a chart that was visible that hung in her room. There was a chart for home & school. She would get a sticker or a star for the things done right. If she broke a rule then she would have a consequence that was written on a chart for school & home. If she miss behaved at school there was always a consequence at home too. Because it showed her that we would support her teachers & school. The consequences were losing play time. Having a favorite toy taken away for a certain amount of time. Having tv time taken away. We have found that limiting tv & the types of programs she is allowed to watch has made a huge difference. A lot of the disney & nickelodeon shows are harmless for most kids but for a strong willed child they show how to be funny by disrespecting adults, throwing food & acting in a negative behavior. None of those shows are allowed for our youngest child anymore. We bacame super strict about a year ago & took everything but 5 basic outfits, a bed, lamp & desk out of our daughters room. WE even took off her door. She was allowed to earn back the things that make her room special to her. It took 6 months. But has been so worth it! This year her attitude has been totally different. We now have good behavior reports for the first time ever. We don't allow drama or negative behavior from her. When it starts we say stop & go sit on your bed until you can be part of the group. We push team work from her. She only recently has been allowed to do any project by herself. She used to want to do everything by herself & her way. She didn't want instructions. From a child that can be very hard to deal with. It was hard road & a lot of times we just felt overwhelmed but it has turned the corner & we are so thankful that things are getting easier. We do realize that we may always have to keep clearer guidelines & boundaries with her & that we may never be able to be as loose with parenting as we were with our older children. But the change has made it where we can be a family without the drama!



answers from Dallas on

I would recommend that you stay in the classroom with her for several days to monitor. Offer to be a room Mom for the day and watch for yourself her interactions and her teachers responses and how they handle her in class. It is entirely possible their personalities don't match up and that class isn't the right one for her. I'd lean more towards that direction rather then a clinical diagnosis since she's able to behave and respond at home. Thinking it's more school related then anything.... good luck!



answers from Dallas on

I would consider finding a new daycare. Maybe she is acting out because she doesn't want to be there. If that doesn't work, I would definitely take her to your pediatrician and tell her what is going on. Your pediatrician might put her on Omega 3 or suggest play therapy or maybe something else but the pediatrician will help you figure it out.

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