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Problems at Preschool: Advice from Moms

Alicia in Raleigh
Your preschooler is learning to interact with other children, in surroundings other than home. If you put her back in preschool the teachers should help by directing her "negative" actions in a "positive" direction. My toddler gets into everything, and it sometimes frustrates me because I can't keep up with her. But when I catch her doing something she shouldn't, I redirect her by saying, "How about doing this instead?" This usually helps. And make sure to give her lots of praise when she does something good.

Monifa in Laguna Niguel
If your child is new to large-group settings, the way she's responding is not uncommon. You might want to find a program with a smaller class size, where there are no more than six preschoolers for every teacher. Until you find another program, use dolls or puppets at home to role-play scenarios that concern you. In addition, start socializing her slowly, by starting with a library story time, for example.

Yvonne in New York
Once I get firm with my 3-year-old, she straightens up. All your daughter is doing is seeing how much she can get away with. So say "No" and stick with it. Using time-outs and taking away her favorite toys also works.

Ashante in Chicago
Offer a reward system. My child still throws snacks, so I give her a smaller portion or stop offering the ones she likes until she listens. I make her sit in a hallway chair when she's disagreeable.

Niecee in Orangeburg, SC
I decided to homeschool my preschooler because of his temperament. But if you want your daughter in preschool, don't give up on it.Try again when she's 4. Or try another preschool. It's all about finding the right fit.

Susan in Virginia Beach
Some of her behavior could be the result of not having enough one-on-one time with you. There are many things you can do to help her, but you need to put in the time. Take time out of your schedule to sit with her and color, read or play. Teach her how "quiet time" differs from active playtime.

Michele in Johnson
Consistency is key. Get her up every day at the same time and follow a routine. If she throws food at home, tell her, "No. We do not do that. You are done." If she throws a fit, walk away. Just make sure she's in a safe place so she couldn't hurt herself. She will soon realize that this behavior doesn't get any attention. Same with the shoes: keep putting them back on until she doesn't take them off.

My first impression when I read your question was, “this child needs some time to grow and mature, because her behavior is more typical of a two year old.” Not all three year olds can handle group settings. This doesn’t mean your child has a problem or you have done a poor job parenting her. Children in the two to three year old range run around, act silly, make games out of defying adults, take their shoes and socks off and throw food. A lot of three year olds can perform at a higher level in a group setting but not all three year olds.

So part of my advice to you is to give your daughter some time to mature. Maybe you can find a relative who can look after your child while you work or a small day care service run by a mom in her home where there are only a few children. In other words, lower your expectations for your daughter and find a smaller group situation for her where she can have some to mature.

Another suggestion is to observe how your daughter behaves at home within the family. If your daughter’s behavior at home is similar to her behavior in school, then you should consider setting some appropriate limits for her.

In this way you will help your daughter learn to behave better when she returns to the larger group setting. You might start off setting limits on throwing food. For example if your daughter insists on throwing food after two warnings, I suggest your remove her food. This will of course provoke a temper tantrum which you will ignore. In a few minutes, when your daughter quiets down, you can ask her, “are you ready to eat your food now?” If your daughter acknowledges that she is, you can then return her food and say, “good……you’re eating like a big girl.”

For more information on setting limits for young children, see my book, “Wimpy Parenting From Toddler To Teen.”