How to Speak to Your Child About Bad Behavior in Preschool
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Maintain eye contact and a gentle touch when talking to your preschooler.

All parents dread getting "the talk" or "the note" from their child's preschool teacher, telling them their little angel misbehaved or broke school rules that day. Your reaction will probably fall somewhere between total denial and wanting to strangle your child, neither of which are good options. Get the whole story and give yourself time to calm down before approaching your preschooler.


  1. 1
    Pick a calm time when you can talk to your preschooler without distractions. Get down on his level so you can maintain eye contact. Tell him you need to talk with him for a few minutes, and you need him to listen and pay attention. Don't let him squirm around, try to negotiate away the discussion or distract you with something else.
  2. 2
    Calmly tell your child you were sad to hear that he misbehaved at school. Ask him why he did it, in case there were extenuating circumstances you need to look into. Remind your preschooler that "we don't do that in our family" and explain why you have rules about hitting or talking back or taking things that don't belong to you -- whatever the infraction was.
  3. 3
    Ask your preschooler what the consequence was at school for his bad behavior. Remind him that there are consequences at home, too, particularly if the bad behavior persists. Spell out exactly what will happen if he does it again so he knows what to expect. Use simple, direct sentences such as "If you hit your friend again, you will have to miss recess at school" or "If you keep talking back to the teacher, you will have to tell her you're sorry, and you will lose your TV time for three days."
  4. 4
    Have your child repeat back to you what you've told him to be clear that he understands what he did wrong and what will happen if he does it again. Ask him how he might handle the same circumstances differently next time they arise, suggesting more acceptable behavior alternatives if he draws a blank. Encourage your preschooler to solve minor problems on his own, but remind him that he can ask the teacher for help for "big" problems, particularly if a classmate is doing something dangerous or hurting someone else.


  • Keep in mind that your preschooler may not even remember the incident by the time he gets home. Also, at this age, behavioral consequences need to happen promptly to be most effective. Keep it short, sweet and to the point, and leave your preschooler with a clear understanding of what you expect going forward.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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