My 3 Year Old Acts up After She Gets Home from School

Updated on March 19, 2008
A.S. asks from Scranton, PA
12 answers

I was woundering if anyone can give me some insite on why my 3 year old would act up after she returns home from school? Well my 3 year old goes to 3 year old preschool and she enjoys going. But my problem is when she returns home from school she gets so out of control that I can not stop her she is very mouthy and self abusive when I tell her it is time to sit down and have some relaxing time! She tells me what to do when to do and where to do it and I don't know how to stop it. She only attends preschool 2 a week from 8:20 in the moring to 10:50 in the moring. On the days that she does not have school she listen very well. But when she has school she returns to the mouthy and I am not going to listen to you type. And I just want to get into control again on these days that she has school. Anyone with any insite on this can you please help me?


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answers from Pittsburgh on

Maybe she's been missing you at school and doesn't know how to express it?
I find that if I am organised and can have time to play quietly and cuddle with my 3 year old after his daycare that things roll along much more smoothly after that. mostly i think he just needs to know that I'm there for him after he's been away for the day

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I had a few thoughts as to potential reasons why your daughter is acting this way.

1) Perhaps she is tired after school. Maybe an earlier bedtime the night before school or a nap right after school might help.

2) Could she be hungry? Does she get to eat a good breakfast before school? What time does she have a snack at school?

3) Maybe she is imitating the behavior of other children. Maybe the teacher can provide some insight.

3) Could she be imitating her teacher?

My 3 1/2 yo has a desire for more control and therefore has recently taken it upon himself to make rules. He gives orders using mannerisms that very clearly belong to me and my husband. It isn't always fun or pretty to see "myself" in action. LOL In dealing with this issue we review household rules and ways to behave appropriately. I give my son choices when I can to let him feel like he has some control over things. I try to be consistent in disciplining him. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hello A.. I was a preschooland Kdg.teacher for 13 yrs and I cannot tell you how many parents have told me the same story as yours. My advice to them was that if their child really loved coming to school, then perhaps sitting down and talking to them and saying that you have noticed that one the days that she comes home from school that she is not listening, being bossy, etc. Explain what you expect of her and let her know that if continues, that she may have to miss school until she is better able to control herself when returning. I would also ask the teacher (I did this many times) to perhaps talk about this very thing during monrning circle time. For some reason, the preschool teacher is next to God and those children listen to them well. I have had parents call me at home to talk to their child when having difficulty with them. If you do not get it under control now, it will only get worse. You may also want to do a reward chart. Let her pick a "prize", place it somewhere in your home but let her know that she is not permitted to have it until the chart line is complete. Some parents do not like reward charts but here is my take on it.........when you study hard in school, your reward is good grades...when you get a job, your reward is a paycheck....and so on. I did it with my children who are now 20 and 13 and they have turned out just fine. Hope this helps. You can email me at [email protected] if you would like to talk more. J. :)

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answers from Sharon on

Sadly, the acting up after school probably won't stop anytime soon. Unfortunately your daughter is probably picking up the bad behavior from another school mate. My oldest daughter went to pre-school for 2 years and had been perfectly behaved until we sent her there. There was not a lot of classroom contol and there were a few girls were terrible examples for others. Unfortunately since we live in a rural area and did not another school to choose from our daughter had to keep attending. After a few weeks of her bad behavior at home after school, we laid out some school day ground rules. We discussed the bad behaviors and gave her some strict guidelines about what was going to happen the evening before school and during the afternoon and evening following school. After 2 weeks or so, she finally settled into a good routine and actually seemed to enjoy school more. She became more comfortable in the classroom and actually ended up paying more attention to the good kids instead of the bad ones. The undesirable bad behaviors ceased.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I would either change schools or take her out. My son went through this and after nurmerous talks with the school we found out he was being picked on by a student and a teacher and learning things from other children a preschooler shouldn't be learning. Which triggered his actions. My friend had hers in another school and she didn't have any problems. So it was just that school and not all.



answers from Reading on

Dear A.,

I sounds like your little angel may be overwhelmed from all the excitement of preschool and just needs a nap on those days. You didn't say if she still naps, but even if she had stopped them, she may need "rest" time in order to deal with her new activities. You may need to lay down with her, give her a special "friend" to sleep with, a cup of water, all the comfy measures she needs in order to relax. Soft music may also help.

We all get cranky when we're tired. It is just worse for a 3 year old who doesn't know how to be aware of her feelings yet. Say things like "you must be tired" or I think you are cranky because you are tired". Teach her how to put her feelings into words, and it will help in the long run. Take it from an experienced mom of two tweens and a 3 year old. It took me many years to understand it all. I only wish my first two could have benefited my years of experience!

Good luck...



answers from Philadelphia on

Have you spent any time in her class with her? if not, you need to! I wouldn't even set up an appt, i'd just drop in one morning (and if they don't let you do this, i'd make sure i thought twice about sending her back) dropping in takes away any time needed to prepare for a visitor (they shouldn't need to prepare). See how the teachers are talking to the children. Are they speaking this way to the children or do they respect the children? Are the children being allowed to speak this way to one another? If so, something needs to change nowbefore it has any lasting effect on her.

Alternately, did you ask her teachers if there may be a child in the class who has a mouth like this--maybe she's picking it up from another child.

also, do they feed her snack there? Could she be eating something that doesn't agree with her, maybe an ingredient that her body may be sensitive to?

either way, it sounds like, if it's not just exhaustion or hunger, someting is going on there.



answers from Allentown on

get yourself the book (how to behave so your children will too) it is wonderful! I love it. It has helped me immensly in understanding how to discipline with love and without stifling my sons self esteem and creativity.
you can get it at any book store or even online.
Good Luck



answers from Pittsburgh on

I once read an article in a parenting magazine that some kids are very well behaved in a day care or school setting, then once they're with Mom and/or Dad, they have a meltdown. The article said that the kids can start to know proper behavior and are good away from home, but once they're with the people that they know truly love them they relax more and let go of any pent up frustrations. I believe it based it on my experience with my older son's manners. I had a mom comment to me one day after a playdate " Your son has the nicest manners, and when I told him about it he said to me 'Oh, I don't do this at home!'" Maybe she just needs some time to unwind after school. Good luck. I hope my advice helps.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi! Maybe instead of sit down relaxing time when she gets home why not try doing a dance viedo? Or a sesame street excersice tape? Some playtime outside, riding a bike, maybe something by the Wiggles? Some children get wound up at school and need physical activity to release the stress, tension and excitement of the day. Then it's time for a tall glass of water and a talk with Mom about the day at school...relaxing after. Don't accept mouthy behavior, if you let her get away with it now, trust me you will regret it later. Keep your rules and punishment simple and consistant and you both will get over this rough patch. You could also talk to the teacher about this as well. She might have some insight and ideas for you as well. Best wishes.



answers from Scranton on


Your daughter's behavior is very normal. Children who are just beginning school, or who are transitioning from half day preschool to full day elementary school will often go through an adjustment period where their behavior is fine during the school day but awful once they get home.

There are two common reasons for this. First and foremost is that young children have to work very, very hard to behave for hours at school. While we all have rules at home for our kids, schools, out of necessity, have more rules. It can take some serious effort for a child to learn and adhere to all these new rules at school and it wipes them out. Think of it this way; they use all of the energy they have to behave well at school and by the time they come home, their tanks are empty. Your daughter is exhausted from trying to be good all day, so when she gets home she lets loose. And her bossing of you is probably a reaction to being bossed herself all day. Now that she's out of school, she wants to be the boss.
The other reason that she may be acting up is that she might be imitating kids at school. It's inevitable that even the best of kids will be exposed to, and perhaps pick up, some bad habits at school. You just need to reinforce your rules at home and make it clear that you will not tolerate her misdeeds and bad attitude. Just know that it might take the full first year of school for her to adjust. It's hard, but try to be stand firm and be patient at the same time.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I had something similar with both of my boys at this age. The pediatrician told me that they become over stimulated at school with structure and the variety of personalities along with separation and independence for the first time. He told me that the best thing is to reduce the stimulation once they get home by keeping the TV off and limiting activity. They do grow out of it once they mature and get used to the routine of going to school.

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