Misbehaving at Preschool!!!

Updated on July 26, 2010
J.I. asks from Manassas, VA
11 answers

I have an almost 4 yr old, his b-day is in August.
So the issue is he started a summer camp and he's never been to school before the first week he was there he was really good, just the typical playing a little rough with kids and not being quiet at nap time. Butafter talkingto him he got it and was doing better. Then we had to skip the camp for two week because there was nospace for him. So we just started this week Monday was great but the rest of the week was horrible. Spitting at teacher running away from her and not listening to her. Getting on top of the tables, hidding under neath the teachers desk. He has never behaved this crazy before and at home he misbehaves and does typical stuuf but not like this. I feel so frustrated don't know what else to do ive taken tv away and always talking to him.
Any advice is this normal???

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So What Happened?

Hello Ladies,

Thank you for all the feedback. The update is taht everythingescalated from bad to worse. On Friday he was spitting at teacher ans again doesnt listen to her. We had him in soccer classes in the spring and parents were not involved i nthe classs we would watch from a distance wher he wouldnt see us and he did fine listen to teacher and everything participate none of this type of behaviour surfaced. At home we use the time out and 1-2-3 couting routine and by tow he listens as soon as he hits or screams at us he goes to time out. I did speak to the teacher and she said he is a good boy he isnt always misbehaving but when he does its tough to make him understand. So beore friday i took him to a playground i wanted to see how he would be around other kids after being in school and he did great no figting or any of the things the teacher would say he does. he gets his moments when he is tired but after talkingto him he gets over it. We also went to a party over the weekd end and he did great. So i decided if while talking to the teacher that if he didnt do good this week i would take him half day only. So surprise I take him monday get a call that i have to go pick him up because they cant take his behaviour anymore. And they really make him out to be horrible and he is not. At home he doesnt get away with misbehaving . I always ask him how he did in school and what he learned and all taht. He did tell me once or twice taht a lady scared him and told him to stop it or soemthing and she screamed at him but i thought maybe she did raise her voice a bit or was frustrated but maybe thats what made him feel not wanted there or something. So monday they told me i couldnt bring him back anymore because they dont tolerate his behaviour. But I noticed somethign had to have gome wrong because when i get there tow of the kids that help at the summer camp toldm e he had peed in hispants that he never does that not at night not ever. So what i found funny was taht if they say my son doesnt listen to the teacher or other adults there then how come they send him with middle school kids to the bathroom? SO, taht the update he is not going back I want to enroll him in like an activities class like little gym once a week to see how he does with another teacher and then he is going to some other school for the fall. But ut does make me feel very sad taht they make my son look like this terrible kid and he si not like that he doesnt behave like that at home he has the attitued of any other kid and I even tried being more patient with maybe it was my way of talking to him my husband and i have been triying really hard to change the way we talk to him and give him ore attention and maybe that was the problem but I dont know what could have happened :(

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answers from Washington DC on

Is he getting enough sleep? My son is the same age and can get like this if he isn't well rested, especially with a change in routine. We remind him before he goes that he should have no time outs. If he has not time outs, we make a big deal of it and he gets a treat, like a popcycle, m&m or small candy. If he does get time outs, we remind him he shouldn't have. By the time he gets home, he can't remember why he got the time out so punishing, like no TV doesn't really work.

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answers from New York on

Hi J.,
Sorry that you are having this problem with your little boy. If he's never been to school, camp or daycare before, don't assume he knows what he is supposed to do. I don't know what type of disclipine you use at home, but perhaps is not aware that there are rules, that the teacher is the authority, that's it's not a free-for-all. If he is not used to being around other kids, he may simply be so excited that he loses control, or that he is trying to compete with other kids for the attention of the teachers. Taking away things after he gets home is not really effective discipline for a 3 year old, the consequence must be immediate - so the teacher must be on board with the discipline. Speak with her, and I think that you and your son should have a "conference" with the teacher to discuss expectations and discipline at school/camp. Also when he's gone for just a couple of weeks, then skipping a couple of weeks, it's hard for a kid that small to adapt to a routine over and over.
Good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

J., I'm so sorry you are going through this. How compliant is he with you at home?

If he listens to you at home and does what you say without the drama you are detailing here, then the issue is that he doesn't recognize authority outside of you. You mention that he misbehaves at home. How much misbehavior are you meaning? What do you consider "typical stuff"? If you are not strict with him at home, between that and not accepting authority from another adult, then this will be a real problem for him when he goes to real school.

I would ask my ped to help me find some resources for how to change your pattern of discipline at home so that you can help him learn to behave better. Without that, you'll just keep having failures outside of home like at camp. Once you've put a new discipline routine into place and he's finally accepting it, enroll him in preschool. There he will learn to work within a group and accept his teachers' authority. It will serve both of you well for when kindergarten comes around.

If you don't change anything at home, J., putting him into preschool will possibly not work out, and they will ask you to withdraw him from the school. They do not have to put up with a child doing what your son is doing in the classroom, and they won't. Public school does have to, to a certain extent, but it will cost your son so much in lost time learning and cause you much grief and time conferencing with the school over his poor behavioral skills.

Good luck,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sarasota on

Your son has never been in school and has never been in a situation on a regular basis where you were not there and someone else was in charge with other kids around? This is pretty simple. I bet he is feeling confused and a little sad with this sudden change in routine without his mommy. The two weeks break took him back to his usual routine and then bam, he all of a sudden was back to this situation.

Is there anyway you can ease him into preschool? can you do three half days a week for a little bit, then four, then 5, then start adding in afternoons slowly? I think you will find that if he is given the chance to adjust slowly to the change with a lot of love and conversation with you as to how things are going, he will do better.

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answers from Norfolk on

Hi J.,
I would not assume your son is doing anything wrong. No, in fact he is doing exactly what a 3 year old might do if he has realized he'd rather be home with you than at camp. I would reccommend you be excited about his day at camp and ask him to let you know everything he does that day. Reassure him that you will be back to pick him up right after (fill in the blank)- something he can relate to like right after his nap or afternoon snack or something that your little 3 year old can look forward to and he will become excite to see you and share with you his day. This is not a permanent situation. He is simply demonstrating that he would really rather be at home because this is a new environment and in this environment he probably is NOT the center of attention like he may be at home. Now, who wouldn't rather be home for all that attention. The key is to continue to praise him and show him how excited you are about his growing up and how much fun he is going to have at camp and how excited you are to hear all about his day. Now after having said all that - it is important that you follow through and give him your undivided attention when you get home, or on your way home, to allow him to share his day with you - and be excited for him. Some of my favorite time with my son was in the car returning from school. Your little guy is growing up and it is exciting and scarey all at the same time.

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answers from Washington DC on

Whatever thing you think may be "small" to let him get away with with his parents is going to blow waaay out of proportion with other people. If it's not corrected at home it's just going to amplify when they're out of your sight. Children are funny like that. If I can get away with it with my own parents, who are these people to tell me any different? You're not my mom...I don't have to listen to you. You're not my dad...leave me alone. Once keep encouraging him to be a good person at home, it will spill over wherever he goes. Also stress to him the importance of respecting his elders like they were his own family and to respect other people's space and rules.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think that you might want to drop in to the summer camp and observe. That kind of behavior sometimes is because the child is stressed in those circumstances. Is this a new teacher? Is there another child who is picking on your son? A 3 year old cannot verbalize those complex issues yet, so acting up may be his only way to voice his frustrations. Check it out and don't always assume that it is your son's fault, get the facts first.

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answers from Columbus on

Just curious, does he have any sensory issues that you take care of at home without thinking about? Say, loud noise, smells, or textures that you change to suit him that keep him comfortable and calm?

All of the behaviors you describe sound sensory seeking to me, as if he was confused or overwhelmed by something in his environment when he came back after the two weeks. A change in routine can set some kids off, but you should be looking for additional clues as to why this has effected him so deeply.

He has a full year before this is a big issue in Kindergarten. My advice to you is, if it is suggested to you that he be held back a year to "mature" before starting kindergarten, refuse. Check out the data on holding kids back, it is a very bad thing for children who may need intervention, and for all kids in general.


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answers from Sacramento on

I am a teacher of young children.The 2 wk break in camp did your son in and messed up his new routine at camp. This often happens when preschool age children beccome accustomed to a new environment, especially 1st time away from home Mom and Dad. Young children often get accustomed to new surroundings and a routine and sometimes it changes. His reaction to act out is not out of the ordinary but he needs to know it is not OK. Just curious, how is his behavior at home and what methods of discipline do you use there? It sounds like it may not be working if he thinks he can act up in public like this. Are your discipline methods age appropriate and consistent; is Dad on the same page with it too. If not they need to be soon. There also needs to be reasonable and understandable consequences for poor behavior. To improve things if he is continuing at "camp" this summer you need to call the teachers and ask if you can meet with them. Tell them that you are concerned about your boy's behavior and ask them as experts for advice and suggestions to get your son to stop his naughtiness. Your son should not be present when you have this talk. I would also consider putting your son in preschool for 2-3 half days a wk in the fall so your he can learn how to behave in a structured setting away from Mom and Dad. He will need to learn this to go to kindergarten next yr. and will also benefit socially from being around others his age. Hang in there Mom, but hold firm. Schedule the short mtg with his teachers asap, listen to what they say and things will get better. Good Luck

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answers from Washington DC on

i agree with the mom who suggested that easing him in would be better than straight from home to a full-time camp. he's so young. this must be incredibly baffling for him. if you're frustrated, multiply that a LOT for a little guy who is still working on expressing himself verbally and is in a world with a lot of new people and inexplicable rules.
but a pre-school camp should be prepared for this. it's exasperating to be expected to discipline a little fellow hours and hours AFTER the offense has occurred. taking away tv doesn't relate in any way to what he did, and talking to him later won't help that much when he's in a situation that he doesn't know how to handle without you there. you need to have a heart-to-heart with his teacher about her methods of discipline, your methods, your first-hand knowledge of your child's temperment, and how SHE can take charge of him while ....er.......he's in her charge. yes, parents should know about their children's behavior and be prepared to participate in dealing with problems, but ultimately it boils down to who's got the boots on the ground.
can you get him into the camp on a part-time basis? either 3 days a week, or every day for the morning or afternoon only? it sounds to me as if he's just not ready for a transition this big yet.



answers from Washington DC on

I would be worried about the camp and the teacher. This behavior seems significantly different than what you experienced before, therefore there needs to be a reason for it.

Is something happening at camp or with the teacher that is causing this. Is he imitating other children? Is he doing it to get attention? (Does the teacher have too many children to manage thus she is unable to give each of the children the attention they need/want. They are only 4.)

Is there too much happening in the room for him? My son has problems in large groups because of the noise and stimulation level.

I would suggest doing more investigating into why this is happening. It will help you figured out an effect way to correct the problem. Simply punishing him to get him to stop doesn't always work.

Good Luck!

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