Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Disipline a Preschooler

I wish this was a great "how to" post (like one of my most favorite bloggers The How To Mommy), where I give you gobs of helpful advice on how to manage a 4.5 year old, energetic pre-K'er.  Alas, this is just a plea for help.  Any advice, resources, books, websites, personal experiences...anything...would be greatly appreciated.  We just don't quite know what to do.'s the situation.  We have a very spirited little man.  He has always been very energetic and in need of stimulation, but T has always been very well-behaved.  I'm not just saying this because I'm his Mommy (let's face it, I'm slightly biased).  Friends, family, strangers, they have all commented in the past at what a good boy he is, how polite, how sweet and loving, what a good listener he is.  Unfortunately, that seems to be our sweet boy of the past.  We have hit quite a bump in the road ever since T was closer to turning 5 than being 4.  It's like a switch was turned on, and now we have an argumentative, pouty, disruptive firecracker who likes to push our buttons.  We've been having small issues all year with T not listening to his teachers at preschool and daycare.  He plays the "I can't hear you" card, and just flat out ignores requests.  He's also a classic boy, roughhousing with his friends, wrestling, not keeping his hands to himself, you know...being a boy.  I guess this behavior isn't too popular at preschool.  We don't see much of it at home, because he only has a 10 month old to play with. 
Lately, however, we've been having embarrassing blow-ups when we try to take him home from daycare.  I will arrive to pick him up, excited and eager to see my little monster, and what does T do...he ignores me, refuses to come give me a hug or say hello, then when he does acknowledge me, he begs me to let him stay and play.  It kills me every time.  I have even started to dread the pickup process.  How sad is that?! 

This week was the topper.  Hubs and I went together to pick him up from daycare, and we foolishly thought he'd be pumped to see the entire fam there to greet him.  Instead, he did his best ignoring, ran away from us when we tried to collect him (like literally did the na-na-na dance and dodged us), yelled very loudly that he "liked daycare better than home" ::insert dagger in heart:: and stopped using his legs, so we had to drag him out kicking and screaming with each of us holding an arm.  We tried to discuss it with him, reason with him, took away all his "privileges" (books, bath, cartoons, playing with mom and dad, dessert) and we acted hurt and cold, I even cried (legitimately).  Nothing worked.  Case and point...yesterday, after the aforementioned "blow up", we got news from his daycare teachers that he was 1. pushing his friends 2. disruptive at naptime (talking, singing and even growling ::snicker::) and 3. told his new friend Ellis that he was going to "kill him".  ::die::  Then, in his backpack...just to sink the knife in a bit farther...he came home with this...
Now, on a normal day, when we weren't struggling with his behavior, I would think this was HILARIOUS.  But, it just made me burst into tears after all we've been going through.  He just thinks I'm a cook?!?!  As T would say "he broke my heart".

So here we are...struggling with how to discipline our preschool-aged son, pulling our hair out with what might work to help change his behavior, possibly return our sweet little boy to us, and make him understand how bad his behavior has been.  I'm disappointed in him, and this kills me.  I'm embarrassed of his behavior.  This is very hard to admit.  I'm at a loss for how to get through to someone who seems to have an excuse for everything, a very short-term memory and can't truly comprehend the levity of the situation.  What do I do??  Is there a book out there that can give me the answers I crave?  What are we doing wrong?  ::sigh::

How can this sweet boy be so difficult at times???


  1. The ONLY thing that has ever worked with our kids is a sticker chart. Right now Addison has one for homework....just taking homework time seriously and trying hard. Lucas has one for dinner...eating without complaining and taking forever. They need to fill in a lot of boxes (like 30) and they will get a special surprise. When Lucas was being bad at school his punishment would be that he would go right to his room for a timeout for like 10 minutes. That really did the trick. Find something that works and stick with it. You are great parents and doing a great job!!!

  2. Coming out of lurking to try to help... first, I love reading your blog and am always impressed by how you do it all. You are an amazing mom!
    I'm an early childhood teacher and mom to a 10 month old. I've taught preschool thru 2nd grade, and let me tell you, what he's going through is a totally normal phase at his age. It's almost like they are trying to figure out how to control some of their life as they struggle with the independence they start to want at this age. I second the use of something like a sticker chart. I would with a number you feel is achievable so he'll feel some success to start. The "prize" at the end doesn't need to be material, it could be the family going somewhere for fun that he likes to go, or doing something he likes to do, etc. Whatever will motivate him. You can use his toys to kind of role play with him what mommy and daddy feel like when he acts that way when you pick him up. Let him "play" himself and you "play" you. Then, role play what it would look like if it went smoothly. Sometimes this helps because it's not in the heat of the moment when his brain is too busy to process what you might be saying to him. You can role play what's going on with his friends, too. As far as pick up, I don't know the situation, but if you pick him up at the same time each day, having the teachers give him a warning (but positively) that in about 5 minutes you'll be there can help. Gives him a chance to know his time is winding down. If they can't, maybe give him a few moments once you're there to play or show you what he's up to. I'd talk to him about that ahead of time so he's knows that's the plan. Ask him what he wants to show you so he gets a little control in the situation. It might also be helpful to have a chart that goes through the steps that he should do before yoyu leave - clean up, coat on, etc. You can go over it at home, and possibly even have it in his cubby so he can "check off" his steps.
    I probably have more ideas that could help, but feel like maybe I've typed enough! Feel free to email me ( if it could help. I hope things start to get better for you guys. I know how frustrating that can be for everyone. Know that whatever you choose it may take a little while to see results, so don't give up.

  3. Sorry, me again. I don't know how I never noticed this before, but my little guy (Oliver) was born on April 14th, too!


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