Preschooler Always in Trouble at School

Updated on October 05, 2008
C.C. asks from San Francisco, CA
8 answers

Hi mamas,
I'm a little discouraged and need some ideas. My three year old daughter, who is... spirited, let's say, keeps getting in trouble at preschool. She's a sweet little girl, but she's got very definite ideas about what she will and won't do. She's been like this since she was tiny, it's nothing new. Last year we had her in a preschool where I really did not like their style - my daughter hated school and her teacher didn't seem to like her. Being a typical two year old as she was, I chalked it up to her age, and found a preschool for this year that I thought would suit her better. I checked into tons of schools and found one I thought would be perfect.

So, now she's been in her new school for 5 weeks and today we received the third note home from her afternoon teacher. Her teacher says that my daughter is disruptive when it is naptime and does not allow the other children to sleep, and that today when asked to go potty and get her lunchbox from her cubby, that my daughter rolled her eyes at the teacher. (I've never seen her do this, but that doesn't mean she didn't do it.) In conclusion, the note says, if she does any of this again, my daughter will be kicked out of the afternoon class. (Which means we'll need to find a new school, since my husband and I both work full time.)

I'd love to pull her out of school altogether until next year, but it is not financially possible for my husband or me to quit our jobs.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do? I am at my wits' end with this. My daughter loves school and seems oblivious to this issue that the teacher is having with her. I've had a stern talk with my daughter about listening to and obeying her teacher, but I do not have the sense that anything really sunk in. Hellllllp...!

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So What Happened?

Thank you for your kind responses! Yes, we did consider the Montessori school here - I have heard wonderful things about it. Unfortunately it is only in session a few days per week for a half day. =(

My husband spoke with the teacher this morning and explained that although we spoke with our daughter at home about respecting grown-ups and listening to her teacher, that we really needed the teacher's help in helping our little girl be her best. So today at nap, they gave Isabelle a book to look at during nap and I guess she was a completely different kid! I hope it lasts?! In any case, I told my daughter how proud I am of her behavior today. She responded, "That's because I'm a good girl and I'm smart, too!" LOL...

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

Hi Catherine,

I think our kids have a lot in common! My son, 2 1/2 is also very spirited and independant. Although he's been at the same center getting excellent care for two years now, I am thinking about moving him now that he is in pre-school. Have you considered a Montessori school? That's what we're investigating. I think Montessori does more to encorage children who are naturally independant and want to make their own decisions and there is less of an "everybody do this at this time, everybody stop at this time" vibe.

Good luck with this.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Are there any consequences for her bad behavior while at school? Does she normally nap at home? If she is being forced to take a nap when she isn't tired, you would think they would have a place for kids to play quietly that don't necessarily need to "rest". It sounds like the afternoon teacher is not very good at dealing with "spirited" children and has just given up trying. You may want to talk with the director of the school face to face to discuss the situation. There has to be other options, but if they are still giving you a hard time you should seriously consider changing schools. I know my friend's daughter was having a difficult time at her preschool/daycare and the center tried really hard to work with them to a solution. Ultimately she ended up removing her for 6 months and putting her with a friend until the bad behavior passed and she could move up to the next class with more structure. She has done wonderful since returning. It was just a bad fit for her at her age in the class that she was in. It sounds like you need to find a place that is a little more flexible and understanding, especially since she hasn't been there very long and is still transitioning to her new class. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I highly recommend talking to your pediatrician. We did that with our son at age three. He, too, was "spirited" but in the end that really meant ADHD. He was kicked out of preschool, so I have I have a clue what you're going through if you're starting to get the threats. Medical professionals can help you determine what's normal behavior at that age (and truly just spirited) and what may be something more extreme.

Best of luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

First of all, I have to commend you for putting an apostrophe at the end of "wits." That kind of grammatical perfection is rare. I don't think I would have even done it, and I'm a bit of a stickler for that type of thing.

But on to the topic:

From the examples you gave, it seems somewhat extreme to me for the preschool to threaten to kick her out for rolling her eyes (of all things), and for disrupting other kids at naptime. They have no other kids that don't take naps? Is there no preschool that has alternatives for non-nappers? These preschools sound a little uptight. I'm not sure how you get a three year old to listen, maybe some of the other moms have some ideas - I personally would focus on finding a preschool that can lighten up and let kids be kids.

I like Thea's idea of a Montessori school.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yikes Catherine, This dose not sound right.From what you've explained the only bad behavior I see is on the teacher. Sorry. But this is just not right for working with this age group. Teachers should know and expect not all children follow like sheep and we get educated on how to teach and work with all different personalities.This could have very easily been my daughter in your situation. So many don't nap and are busy bodies. If the teacher could spend time reading with her or set up play dough for a quite activity. I think this teacher just wants a break. It's just not right that she has been sending home notes and your child is getting labled as having bad behavior. Just from what you've written there's nothing bad there on her part. Just perfectly normal. What a frustrating situation for you. You don't want to be moving her around alot either. Talk with someone at the school and see if they can have something else for her to do during nap time. When I taught we had some nappers and some not. It's just the age group. Maybe books on tape, puzzles, pattern blocks, rubber band boards ,just to name a few things she could do quitely. Best wishes to you and your wonderful free spirted girl.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

have you looked into MONTESSORI schools in your area?



answers from Sacramento on

I have a different take on this.... did the note from the teacher come from the Director of your site? Teachers can't just kick students out. And three notes in 5 weeks, big deal! I would ask about the behavior of the class as a whole. Sometimes when one student talks a little more, or just doesn't "act" like the rest of the class, anything they do is immediately noticed. So what if she roller her eye, she is 3. I would mention that she does not do that at home and ask about the other students doig it. She probably learned it from their school. If she is disruptive at naptime, then put her in another area. Schools make accomodations for all students for any reason. Its their problem, you are not there to watch her every move. They need to be more understanding and figure out how to work with her. Also, I am assuming they are licensed by the county, call the county and complain, their job is to make it work. If they can kick you out so easy, they should at least have to try at keeping you.

Anyway, just my two cents.



answers from San Francisco on

Can they allow her to look at books during naptime or even use an Ipod so she can listen to some music. When I used to teach preschool naptime was difficult for some children. They are expected to stay on their cots for two hours.

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