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Sudden Behavior Problems at Preschool
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Sudden Behavior Problems at Preschool

5435733?1267710191
Hi,

My Preschooler is 3.5 years old, potty trained and well ahead of most children in his class. He is a very sweet and lovable boy. However, recently, he has been hitting, tripping and saying mean things to his friends. He is also not listening to orders given to him. At home, he is displaying very traumatic temper tantrums that lead to a never-ending battle. His teacher told me she doesn't think it's out of meanness, but that he thinks it's funny. He has said things like "I don't like you"; "You're not my friend"; and "Poopy head" to his otherwise friends. He completely defies any orders given to him, yet participates enthusiastically in all class activities.

I have a 5-month old at home and my preschooler is the most loving brother to him and very helpful. For the most part, he is an extremely helpful and lovable little boy who can carry on a conversation with an adult for an hour.

What could be causing this sudden rash of behavior and how can we fix it before it becomes a constant?

Thank you!
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973741_tn?1342346373
Well, first let me tell you what beautiful kids you have!!  They are gorgeous.  I'm wondering if the birth of his little brother has had more of an effect than you thought.  That is a big change for a little guy.  And while I am sure he loves his little brother, it is still a big change.  And baby gets to stay with mom while he has to go to school . . .  so he may be acting out.  What do his teachers do after he has a mean episode/funny episode with the other kids?  What is their strategy for handling it?  What do you do at home?  Do you use an effective time out strategy or take some treasured item of his away?  Consistency with that is helpful.  I think also ignoring tantrums and telling him that you won't talk to him until he calms down is helpful as well.  And rewarding for good behavior helps encourage it.  Praise for any little time he listens like he has just mowed the grass for you--------  even if he is doing something you expect him to do.  Make a big deal about him listening so that he will seek that type of attention out.
Also, I'd make sure that you keep his physical activity high.  With a new baby and the colder months, it is more difficult.  But physical activity has a direct correlation on behavior.  goodluck
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I forgot to mention too when a young child is challenging authority it is often very helpful to give him choices.  It is not like he is getting his way as the authority figure provides the choices-----  but it gives a child a sense of some control and thus is more compliant.  A good strategy to overcome a lot of stress.  good luck
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Thank you for your kind words and response.

As far as disciplinary action at school, it's normally positive reinforcement and, of course, time out's. His teacher, in specific, does not believe in discipline in front of the other children, so she will ask him to be her helper and then talk to him about what he did while they are getting snacks, etc. the afternoon teacher's tactics are quite different as it's mostly structured play and I do not believe she has the same training as his curriculum teacher.

At home, we are very consistent with effective time-outs and the removal of treasured items. I am Italian—we yell! I know it could be more destructive than constructive, so I am trying to control that. Our evenings as far as a schedule are quite consistent as well. It's fun time, dinner, bath, story and bed. I have always stuck to this.

I am trying the positive reinforcement but my husband does not believe in rewarding good behavior—I am working on that.

As far as choices, my son is allowed to pick his menu for his lunches as long as they are within my options. Dinner is different. In my opinion, you get what I make or you eat cereal—no other options. I do let him choose his cloths on occasion and things he wants to do, but it's not 100% his leadership.

He is a very active child and possibly being cooped up over the winter is taking its toll. Thanks for your help and if you have any other suggestions, I am open to anything!
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Okay, thanks for the additional information.  Let me first tell you that I have two wild and crazy boys that are 15 months apart in age.  My older one has something called sensory integration disorder and he is a "sensory seeker" which means he is impulsive at times and loves to do things like . . .  oh I don't know . . . jump off furniture and run into walls.  His younger brother does not have sensory integration issues but he likes to . . . oh  don't know . . . jump off furniture and run into walls . . . just with less intensity.  Boys are bundles of energy and I'm sure girls are too but ...

Anyway,  my point of telling you about my family is that I have implemented a lot of different strategies with my boys and have seen different things work.  When I talk about choices . . . I am speaking of things like--------  X, do you want to sit in circle by Mary or do you want to sit outside the group.   OR  X, do you want to play with the car so Tommy can have a turn with the train or would you like to play with the truck?  
I make dinner and they eat what I make (but I do make things within reason that they like--------  adding in new things to expand the menu).  It is actually a behavioral strategy that occupational therapists use when a child is being difficult in preschool at home, to give two appropriate choices of action so that a child will comply.

Posative reinforcement is essential to good behavior.  Tell your  husband that.  Without, what is the motivation?  If you don't do what you are told, you'll get in trouble?  That is negative parenting.  Kids respond much better to the posative.  That is a psychological point with all people.  Works with adults as well.  (psychologist here speaking).  Kids will go for negative attention if it is what they can get . . . so you have to show that posative attention is better.  (in case part of it is attention seeking, not uncommon for the age).  I thank my kids when they listen to me.  If I ask them to undress for bed and get their pj's on and they do it on the first request---------  I am definatly happy and let them know.  Maybe less so now that they do it regularly, but I don't want to take their compliance with my directions for granted.  So I do show my appreciation.  When I want to change a bad habit, I will sound like a professional cheerleader during the process to encourage them along.  Rewards charts are a well known for being productive in behavior.  I don't give toys---------  but we've done beans in a jar for good deeds and when they get so many, they get to pick something fun for us to do together.  They do extra jobs for change----------  amazing what I can get them to do for a nickle.  They have piggy banks and they save that money and are so excited about it.  Then we open the banks when they are full and my husband and the boys sit and count it out (good math practice, coin recognition, etc.----  we started that at 3) and then they get to save 1/3 (yes, we make a trip to the bank . . . ), give 1/3, and then they get to spend 1/3 on what they want.  I don't know, you don't have to do all that---------  but I will say that my kids really enjoy it and have learned a thing or two about money and earning it.  I would suggest, at least, the posative reinforcement part though.  

I think Italian or not, everyone is tempted to let it rip when their kids push them to the edge.  I do try to control it as what often happens is then that becomes how your kids handle stress.  I push my tongue to the roof of my mouth to stop myself from yelling and take a deep breath.  Then I use "tone" to convey my meaning.  Heck, my kids have even learned when the get the "look" they are in big trouble.  I have found that I can be very authoritative without a big voice.  But lots of people yell.  My only concern with my kids was I didn't want them to yell too.  And they usually do if the parents yell.

I think your son will be okay.  Just sounds like an adjustment.  Keep doing what you are doing and see if it improves.  I think he is at a tough age to be honest.  3 is much harder than 2 in my opinion.  goodluck
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It could be a phase. I remember my son went through a phase saying "stupid" to everyone who walked by, then shut up, poopy head, etc.  It was not a fun time.  Ignore the poopyhead talk b/c the more attn you draw to it, the more they will do it.  

I think three is harder than two, they are becoming more independent and showing, this might his way of showing it, plus he has a new brother.  They are beautiful children by the way.  .
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