Child Behavior Forum
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Behavior Problems - Daycare

My 4 1/2 year old son has been having behavioral problems at daycare for about the last few weeks. The director of the daycare has given him 10 days to basically "straighten up" or he's not going to be able to come back. Basically, he flat out refuses to do what he is suppose to do there. He constatntly tells his teacher no, he refuses to pick up toys, make his cot for nap time, he's ver loud at nap time - so loud that he keeps the othere children awake. He spits. Lately he's become agressive - scratching people, shoving, hitting. The agressive behavior has just started over the last several days. The main problem is him not listening to his teacher. I have tried many types of discipline such as taking away his toys, outside play, taking away is tv, his video game (he has a v-tech). I have tried time-out. I have tried taking away fun things like he was suppose to get to spend the night with a friend and he didn't get to go because of his behavior, he didn't get to spend the night at his grandma's. Nothing seems to work. He acts like he doesn't care. I even told him that if he would start being good at daycare that we would re-decorate his bedroom. None of my methods seem to be working.

My husband and I have some similar problems with his behavior at home especially with his listening and he like to argue. So we end up using time out quite a bit. It seems to work for us at home, but apparently time-out is not working at the daycare. I don't know what to do about the problems at daycare and I don't know what I will do if they end up kicking him out. It's hard for me to disipline him at home for the actions that are occuring at daycare.

I will take anyone's advice.

15 Responses
242606 tn?1243782648
At his age, the key intervention will occur in the daycare setting. Behavior such as his must be managed on the spot.  Any support you can give at home, relative to reinforcing the expectations of the program, will be helpful, but the main thing is that the behavior be managed in the program itself. Now, some programs simply are not designed (usually due to staffing needs) to manage disruptive behavior. Just as you must manage his behavior at home, the program must manage him while he's there. Far and away the most effective behavior managment tool for his age is time out, but the program must be prepared to bite the bullet and see it through. Perhaps they really can't do this.
Avatar universal
I am in the same boat, after 4 yrs of daycare my 4 1/2 yr old son started acting up. He'd always been strong willed but his behavior suddenly escalated (hitting, scratching, yelling) to the point where he was basically on probation. We put it down to a new daycare director and his favorite teacher leaving. A week later it was so bad my husband and I were spending all our time at daycare to help my son get through the day without incidents.

Finally I took my son to the doctor (he had complained 3 times in 2 weeks of a sore throat, but I though he just wanted a popsicle, he's done that). Turns out even though he had NO SYMPTOMS except a MILD sore throat (no fever, no redness in throat) he was positive for Strep and put on antibiotics. I don't know yet if that was the reason behind his behavior because he is still acting out at a much higher level than before, but if your son's behavior changed suddenly, I would see a medical doctor just in case.

After 4 years, a few REALLY bad weeks destroyed our relationship with the daycare and we ended up pulling him out before he was kicked out. We found a home based sitter but after a few days he threw a tantrum and was asked to not return until his behavior was sorted out.

Now we are going back to the MD for a full physical and also making an appt with a child psych.

My heart goes out to you, if your son's behavior change is as severe and abrupt as my son's, then I don't think it is a "typical" situation that will be resolved with time outs. Positive reinforcement and neutral reflection have helped a little but I think there is something more going on. Re time outs, daycare providers (in California at least) are not allowed to restrain children, and if your son is like my son, he will refuse to sit in a chair for time out and the daycare will have no choice but to have the parent pick the child up. Good luck and I am interested in your outcome, as we are going through the same thing!!!
Avatar universal
I will definatley keep you posted. Right now we are just taking one day at a time and praying that this is just a phase. I do not want my son having problems when he starts school next year. His teacher at daycare is getting ready to start her pre-school program after labor day and I hope he starts doing better because I really want him to learn. He's very smart. I don't know where all of this irratic behavior is coming from. I don't know if it's normal for his age or not. This daycare is not allowed to restrain kids either and lately she's been having trouble getting him to stay in time out. He just ends up running from her. I don't understand, because he does not do that at home. It's almost like he's testing the limits with her to see how far he can get. I know his teacher has had about all she can take. She can't devote all of her time to my son. We live in a small town and there isn't very many options as far as pre-school and daycare go. I just hope and pray that he stops this behavior before they ask him not to come back.
Avatar universal
I am also having the same problem with my son at his daycare, I changed daycares about a month and a half ago. He is not listening to his teacher he is fighting the other kids and not using the potty like he does at home. It is very embarrassing when I pick him up and he has soiled his clothes, hit the other children, and wont listen to the teacher what so ever. I have no idea why my child is acting out like this in daycare but I am going to have to do something before he gets kicked out, they have time out and he sometimes refuses to go sit in the corner. he is very stubborn and will not apologize when he hits the other children. I am very upset about this.
if you guys come up with a solution I am open for suggestions
Avatar universal
I am goint to post some advice that someone gave to me and hope that maybe all of us can pick up some pointers from it. It sounds like good stuff:

Set definite, clear-cut expectations and boundaries. It is impossible, as well as exhausting to enforce 50 rules, so we set 5 or 6 hard-fast rules and focus on those. We made a chart, listing each offense and the punishment that followed. Remember that the punishment must fit the crime. NO WARNINGS OR SECOND CHANCES WERE GIVEN! We do use spankings as the most severe punishment, and since we use all forms of discipline consistently, we almost never have to spank.
This chart helped us as parents to be clear with our son. The same crime always got the same punishment. It helped us remember what the punishment was.
We don't count...that just means that your child has 3 or 5 more seconds that he can disobey you.
Mean what you say and say what you mean. NEVER back down when delivering a promised punishment. You're just making a liar out of yourself and your son will be motivated to test you in the future.
Give your child choices. A 4 year old has little control over his own life and will often act out as a way of gaining control over situations. Letting him make little choices each day will give him a sense of control and less likely to use force and violence in situations where he does not have control. Important choices to a child may be choosing his dinner plate or where he wants to sit at the table, clothing, or choosing which cart to use at the grocery store. Things that are trivial to us are important to kids.

Last but not least, you may have noticed kids obey dad before mom. This is because dad is no talk and all action. Mom, on the other hand has to turn three shades of red and spit when she screams before she takes action. Act more like dad.

A great book for reading is James Dobson's THE STRONG WILLED CHILD. It is a Christian book and does suggest spanking in certain cases, but you don't have to be a "spanker" to use this book effectively. His philosophy is that a consistent and effective disciplinary does not have to spank, but will when the child demands it.

Good luck!
You are smart to remember that reward is just as effective as punishment is forming good behavior.

I hope everyone continues to post here and keep each other up to date. I plan on doing the same.
Avatar universal
I am interested if your child's behavior is new or not. My son had occasional "issues" at daycare but just recently REALLY stepped it up to where we had to pull him out of daycare. Our pediatrician tried to tell us it is just a normal phase, but I told her it is NOT normal if after 4 yrs at daycare, in a couple of weeks he got kicked out of not one but TWO different daycares! NORMAL is my other son, who will throw an occasional tantrum, pay the consequences, and go on with life. Anyway...

Some things that have helped at home:

positive reinforcement BEFORE a problem comes up (if we go to the park, as soon as we get there I tell him what a good job he has done not running away from me, before he has a chance to think of it)

using a reward system with plastic coins (the ones like real money, so he can learn their value). I give a quarter for getting dressed/brushing teeth, cleaning up his toys, etc. THEN throughout the day I hand out random pennies for "being a good listener" "not hitting your brother" etc.

The problem is, while this can work at home and has helped a lot, as soon as he gets to a daycare situation he is like a time bomb and I never know when he will explode. I think you all understand when I say how awful it makes me feel when I am told my son who has so many wonderful qualities can no longer attend his preschool. Besides the embarrassment it just rips my heart out because there is so much that is special about him, and his actions 5% of the time are spoiling his chances. Also, we are forced to take time off of work since he can no longer go to daycare, and that is extremely stressful and we can't keep it up forever!!! I am so glad to have this board right now, to communicate with other parents who share my pain!
Avatar universal
My child's behavior is similar to what you described. He's always been known to act up at daycare on occasion, but lately it's gotten worse and now we are on our third consecutive week of worse. I feel like we are definatley in the same boat. Although my son has not actually been kicked out yet, they are threatening it. He now has less than a week to show some kind of improvement or they are going to ask him not to come back. I am very worried about this, because he starts kindergarten next year and this daycare provides an excellent preschool program that I want him involved in. Like I said before, he is very smart. His teacher has even said it, but she can't keep devoting all her time to his behavioral problems.

He only acts up this way at daycare. I can't figure out why. He says he likes it there and evey day when I drop him off he says he's going to have a good day, but he doesn't.

I have been trying the reward system more and more. It's not really helping the situation at daycare though. I really don't know what to do. I actually hope this is just a phase, but I am getting worried.

Avatar universal
My husband has a 4 year old that has come to stay with us for 6 months. Previous times that he has stayed with us he generally acts up the first couple weeks and with discipline he learns what goes on.  He was on the verge of being kicked out of one daycare but fortunately he went home to his mother. However on his return when he started antoher daycare he has been hitting kids, teachers, spitting, knocking over furniture, kicking.  My husband brings him home daily and he gets a good old fashion spanking and gets priveledges taken away. I know some of you probably dont spank but I believe in the old "spare the rod, spoil the child" scripture verse.  In any case, it's not working.  He was suspended yesterday and now my husband received a call this morning to pick him up.  I sympathize with him because now he has to find another day care, put down another fee for start up. I mean I understand no one can babysit these kids with behavioral problems. I think we should start a preschool bootcamp. I mean seriously. The daycare made it seem as if they had never had a kid like my step son before. That's unheard of.  I am going to show my husband all of your posts because I think he feels alone.  However, there still is no answer here. What do we do with them? Put them in another school so we can get the same call tomorrow??
Avatar universal
My son actually did end up getting kicked out of his day care. I got a call at work one day. They had finally had enough and they wanted me to come pick him up. They had all of his stuff packed up. It was really sad. The teacher had all of the other kids give my son a hug good bye. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

There is hope though. I found another preschool. He has been there about a month and is doing great. This preschool is only part time (three-days a week)where the other was full time every day 8-5. When he's not in pre-school, he goes to a friend of mine's house until I get off work. So far, this routine is working out.

For whatever reason, my son and his teacher at the old daycare did not click. I even took him and had him screened for behavioral problems because I was getting worried. He scored exceptionally well on the test and he scored well on the skills part of the test too. He tested at a 5 or a 6 year old level. I was quite pleased. The social worker that tested him told me that sometimes when a child is a daycare/preschool and they start to have problems, they start to become known as the "bad kid". She said sometimes the only way to break this cycle is to remove the child from that atmosphere.

I hope this helps. And I wish you and your husband good luck with your step son.
Avatar universal
I'm so glad I found this thread because I don't know anyone else who is going through this. My son will be 5 in December and is doing the same type of things at his daycare. He will go for weeks on end where his behavior is not an issue at all. Then he will have a month or so where he's an aggresive alien child. Right now he has a new teacher who is pretty strict and he's really testing his limits with her.

I was just called this morning because he ran across the room and shoved a child out of his chair because he felt that child was messing with a project they were working on. Every time it's something different- and he's not always the instigator but the physical outbursts are happening too often and have been for some time.

If he does something else again today I'm going to have to go pick him up. I'm a single mom- I can't just skip out on work because he's decided to push or hit people, and I'm at my wit's end as to what to do about altering his behavior.

I've cracked down hard on him with rewards, etc. We have our 5 rules for school that we discuss at both morning and bedtime and are posted on his wall in his room. Every time I think he's finally understanding he goes and does something else! Up until today he was finally having a great week after 3 pretty rotten weeks.

This erratic behavior pattern has been happening for nearly a year now. I brought him to be evaluated in May and was told that he doesn't have any defiance or major psychological disorders.

I know part of the issues stem from things at his father's house, my child's medical issues, and the rotation of teachers at the preschool (he's on his 3rd teacher in 10mos). I just need to figure out a way for him to use his words instead of his hands. He was such a laid back baby and now I worry that he will be kicked out of daycare for being so aggressive!

I want to bring him back to the psychologist to continue with the evaluations- perhaps he can help us with this. However, I'm in the middle of a custody drama (which my child knows nothing about and is kept very far from him) and have been advised legally to wait until the proceedings are over to bring the child back to the evaluator. The case should be over next week (fingers crossed) and then I can call the dr again.

Cybertechie- your stepson sounds like he probably has some of the same underlying issues that mine does. Missing the other parent, not 100% sure why things are they way they are, etc. If the daycare hasn't dealt with kids from blended/single parent households, then they might not have encountered a child like yours before. Have you brought him to a counselor yet?
Avatar universal
mickih, so sorry to hear your son got kicked out... we took our son out of daycare before he could get kicked out!  I had the feeling that daycare was trying to find enough reasons to kick him out (documenting EVERYTHING). I couldn't leave him in a situation where he was so blatantly not wanted. We tried a home daycare after that and he was asked not to return. I cried. It is heartbreaking, esp since we all know that our children are not bad kids, just very emotional! He is home with dad now and is much happier, doing better.

We are seeing a PhD who said he shows some signs similar to Pedi Bipolar but does not want to medicate. The Dr feels that my son just needs to form new neural paths to help him deal with his strong emotions. We are working on reassuring him that no matter how he behaves he is still loved but have not really gotten to controlling his behavior yet. His behavior is a lot better though; he sometimes throws a stubborn fit but has not hit anybody since we have been home with him. But I still don't trust him enough to put him in preschool. At the park once he hit a kid who he thought had pushed him. Luckily the kid hit him back and the kid's dad was OK with it all... I was so embarrassed!

I don't know how long we can afford to have my husband stay home. We are lucky we had some money saved. Our goal: we HAVE to have my son in kindergarten next year!

So remember, we all are NOT alone. Our children are special, good, loving... they just express their emotions very strongly! We will all get through this... the love in our kids' eyes will shine through in the end.
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A related discussion, odd behavior was started.
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A related discussion, 4 yr old kicked out of preschool was started.
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A related discussion, kicked out of daycare was started.
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