Son "Fighting" at Daycare

Updated on November 05, 2008
J.S. asks from Cincinnati, OH
7 answers

My son is almost 2 1/2 years old, and he has been going to daycare since he was 6 weeks old. He changed daycares about 11 months ago and has been doing fine there and progressing greatly, much better than the other daycare.

However, just recently he has become very defiant. The daycare worker pulled me aside this morning to tell me that he has been fighting a LOT in class with a couple of the other boys and that sometimes they all get scratched up due to the fighting (hitting or throwing toys, etc.). She says he has a horrible temper and throws a tantrum and stomps his feet if he doesn't get his way. He does this at home too, but I usually ignore him and walk away until he calms down or he sits in time out.

As a mother, I feel defensive and worried at the same time. A few months ago one of the other ladies said that he was non-confrontational, that if someone came up and took his toy or pushed him he would just cry, and one day they told him to stand up for himself and say "NO" to the other child. I think it has gone to the extreme and I'm not sure how to handle it. They say they put all of the kids in time out when it happens, so I'm not sure what I can do or say to him to help this problem.

It's just myself and him and home so he doesn't act like this at home. Is this a normal 2 1/2 year old stage or is there something I should be doing or saying to stop this? If I pick him up and the teacher tells me he hit or bit, then we have a talk about not hitting and how it isn't nice and that we don't hit/bite, and he understands me, but it is after the fact (although I think he does remember the incident). Any ideas moms?

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answers from Cincinnati on

Sounds like fairly normal responsive behavior to me, but you definitely want to make sure that at daycare and at home the consequences are consistent.

To begin with, start encouraging your child to use his words when he is frustrated. Many times kids will resort to physical action to express their feelings because they do not know how to verbally express their feelings.

Our son started pushing, hitting, and throwing toys at daycare, and what we did to curtail it was to be painstakingly consistent with the time outs. I told his teachers that if he had to be put in time out 10 times a day then to do it! He didn't like being put in the chair at the table and removed from all 'the fun', so he quickly got his act together. At home, if he hits or does other behaviors (namely, climb up on the couch), we do the same that they do at daycare: give a warning, then put into time out. It doesn't take but one or two times and he stops the behavior.

Just be consistent - kids will test their limits and boundaries (that's what they do!), and it is up to you to set the tone. Better now at 2 1/2 than at 10, right?

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answers from Muncie on


I am a day care teacher with 3 and 4 yo's. I tell all my kids to "use their words" instead of their hands. In other words, if someone takes a toy from you, say, "Don't take my toy" or "I don't like that" instead of hitting.

Part of it, for him, is his age. Verbalization at 2 1/2 is really hard.

I'd just suggest you continue to talk daily to his teachers/workers that are with him and trust that they will tell you if it is out of the ordinary.

For his age, sharing is difficult as is expressing feelings. But if they are putting him in (what we call) "thinking chair" to think about his actions then he will eventually learn.

Just keep reinforcing at home not to hit (there is a great book called "hands are not for hitting" that you could read to him....very cute)

Good Luck

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answers from Canton on

Your son's behaviors are typical for his age! This stage is often nicknamed the "terrible two's" for a reason. During this stage, a child is trying to figure out where he/she fits into the world around them. Naturally, this stage is filled with exploration, independence-seeking, testing limits, and demonstrations of protests. It is often difficult for a child your son's age to express himself appropriately, therefore, we have to teach the behaviors we expect to see. You addressing the situation with your son is fine, however, you are right when you say it is after the fact. He needs to be given a consequence when the behavior occurs. More importantly, he needs to be praised when he is doing good. Suggest to the school setting up a behavior chart where he can earn stickers for keeping his hands to himself, using nice touches, etc. Children LOVE praise and attention! This is something he can bring home to show you as well. By making a big deal of it, you will be reinforcing the positive behaviors you want him to display! Good luck to you and your son; have patience and be positive!



answers from Bloomington on

lots of good suggestions here already...

just another thought: give him some ideas of what he SHOULD do. telling him "don't do this, don't do that" doesn't help him know how to replace the bad behavior. so maybe you can sit down and talk about how he could give a train to his friend to play with, or hold hands and play ring around the rosie, etc.



answers from Columbus on

Its very normal. My son who si the sweetest boy to his teachers and has terrific manner sand never gets a bad report....was a total bully when he was about 18 months to 2.5 years. We worked very hard with him about sharing and being a friend and also to stand up for yourself wehn you ened to. a good bablance is needed . this teacher probably had had a day with him. ( admit it somedays you do too) so she was letting you know what was going on.

When you drop him off explain " Mommy expects you to be a good friend today. Not hitting , punching, kicking etc......" keep on talking to himabout it he will get hte picture.
If it does not get better. Make a chart for the teachers and you to use...( WITH ALL THE BOYS) stickers or smiley faces for good sharing and good friend days means extra hgs from moms when they get picked up//// work with the day car with ideas but also explain you expect it to be across the board and not just with your son.
good luck! Liek I said my son is a really good kid NOW but I used to be embarraased to take him anywhere where there would be a boy his age around!



answers from Toledo on

I was a preschool Montessori teacher with children ages 3 to 6. Some were there for 10 hours a day, and we had 27 kids in the class. The environment was overstimulating and the day too long. I encourage you to find a sitter who can babysit in your home or whose home you can take your son to. The daycare provider should be teaching conflict resolution skills. Unfortunately, most daycares simply can't give the one-on-one attention children need. If you have to do daycare, find one where there is a ratio of no more than 10 kids to one adult. Good luck!



answers from Bloomington on

I went through the same thing with my son a few months ago. He will be 3 in January. I think this is normal behavior for their age, but it is important how you handle it. I felt the same way you did, I was upset that he was acting that way, but I took it personally. I felt like they were saying he was a bad kid. I didn't know what I was suppose to do about it because I was not there when it happened. We try to be consistent with discipline at home, but how was I suppose to control him at daycare. I asked them how they were handling it and told them to make sure he stayed in time out as long as he was suppose to. It kept going on for over a week, then I tried something else. I would talk to him every morning and tell him no hitting, pushing, pinching, or biting and I told him when I come to get you tonight I am going to ask if you were good or bad. If you were bad then you won't get to ride the 4-wheeler with Daddy tonight. I didn't know how it would work since that is a long time for him to remember that, but it did. There was a few times he was bad so he didn't get to ride. He was upset, but it only took a couple of days and he stopped the bad behavior. You might try to find something that he loves to do or play with and take it away if he is bad. I understand what you are going through, and I'm sure it is something a lot of kids go through. Good luck. J.

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