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Preventing Violent Behavior In Preschool

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If your preschool child is having trouble with the impulse to hit, bite or poke other kids at preschool, you need a solution that works to help them learn the appropriate way to treat others. Curbing early bullying behaviors will help your child (and other children) enjoy preschool more, and it will prepare them for the more rigid school structure in kindergarten. Here are things you can do as a parent to help your child improve while at preschool.

1. Stay consistent. 

Part of the reason why young children hit or bite is because they are acting out of frustration with the inability to control their environment. Children do better when they have a dependable routine. If you have been very flexible with scheduling at home, try to implement a more structured routine. Have naps and meal times at the same time each day, and when it is time for preschool, have a specific routine for getting ready to go. This will help your child "get in the mood" for school and help them feel more secure. 

Part of consistency is also reacting consistently to the behavior. Not all strategies work for all children, but if you stay consistent in your reaction and discipline, you should see positive results. Common methods of dealing with hitting can be removing your child from the fun, holding both of their hands (take the hands away) for a few minutes, or repeating a boundary firmly: "We don't hit. You need to calm down and sit here with me." Remember to share your strategy with the teacher so they can enforce the same response when you are not there.

2. Practice.

Children love to play pretend. You can use this imaginative game to your advantage by helping your child to practice good behaviors. Using stuffed animals or dolls, lead a game of preschool pretend and model a response to hitting. Show how to respond to common triggers, such as having someone take away a toy they were playing with, or feeling overwhelmed because they wanted to paint but the teacher said no. You can also model how hitting affects others and use pretend to further enforce your boundary. For example, if your child uses their doll to act violently toward yours, stop the play and say, "We don't hit. I think your doll needs to calm down."

3. Teach how to apologize.

You may feel awkward taking your child to apologize to other children they have hurt, but this actually helps your child see that hurting others is wrong. Teaching apologizing teaches empathy and eventually your child will learn to feel sorry even without being prompted.

For more tips and information, try contacting preschools in your area, such as Foundations Child Development Center Inc, to see what they can do to help.