Misbehavior in preschool should be addressed with logical consequences.
Listening, following directions, sharing and getting along with others are a large part of any preschool curriculum. Many children enter preschool with little or no experience practicing social skills. Parents and teachers can do their best to set preschoolers up for success by providing a clear set of expectations and sticking to consistent consequences. Your bright preschooler will soon learn that grabbing another child's toy is unacceptable and it will be addressed the same way every time.
1Be proactive. Dr. Susan Campbell, author of "Behavior Problems in Preschool Children," states that the most important thing parents can do to head off poor behavior is to set children up for success. When a child consistently has problems sharing with others, the parent and teacher could talk to him before school to remind him of the importance of sharing. If your child often resorts to hitting siblings out of frustration, talk to your child's teacher before problems begin to arise at school.
2Be consistent. Classroom routines and discipline procedures reduce ambiguity for children, letting them feel safe and in control of the day. According to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Laura Markham, a consistent routine helps children develop self-discipline. A discipline procedure might begin with a warning and a clear statement about the unacceptable behavior. If the behavior continues, the next step is a time-out, followed by a discussion about how to replace the negative behavior with an acceptable behavior. Tell your child, "Preschoolers don't throw toys because someone could get hurt. Are there items in the room that are made for throwing? Would you like to find a friend to play catch with?" The time-out should then be followed by a natural consequence, such as removal from the area or toy where the trouble took place.
3Respond immediately. Children need immediate feedback when they act out. When a child breaks a rule, give a warning to the child, telling her exactly what behavior is unacceptable and why. According to the Northeast Foundation for Children (NEFC)'s "Responsive Classroom" educational approach, sometimes all it takes to redirect a misbehavior is to stand near the child. Proximity is a subtle way to let your child know you are watching, without calling her out in front of peers.
4Give logical consequences. If a child throws a block, he should be removed from the block area and directed toward another area of play. If a child hits another child, he should play alone for 3 to 5 minutes. Logical consequences make sense and work to teach the child the acceptable behavior. A child who throws blocks on Monday and loses his play privileges will likely think twice before throwing them on Tuesday because he wants to play with the blocks. Use time-outs to clarify why the child was put there and what he could do differently in the future.TipThe University of Missouri's Diana Milne, regional specialist in human development, reminds parents of the important difference between discipline and punishment. When you discipline your preschooler, you are teaching him self-control and how to take responsibility for his behavior. Punishing a child makes the parent responsible for the child's behavior.