5 Most Common Preschool Behavior Problems and Their Solutions

Discipline Strategies for the Most Common Child Behavior Problems

These discipline strategies address preschool behavior problems fast.
Annie Otzen/Moment/Getty Images

Just as you breathe a sigh of relief that the “terrible twos” are over, you're likely to realize that the preschool years aren't exactly care-free. In fact, as your preschooler gains more independence, she'll likely exhibit a whole new set of behavior problems.

But that's a normal part of growing up. Kids need to misbehave sometimes so they can learn that there are consequences for breaking the rules.  

With consistent discipline, you can turn each misbehavior into a wonderful learning opportunity. And over time, your preschooler will grow wiser and better prepared to make good decisions. Here are the most effective ways to handle the most common preschooler behavior problems:

1. Lying

Most preschoolers surround themselves with books, movies and TV shows where people can fly and pets can talk. So sometimes, they have a little trouble deciphering between the real-world and fantasy. 

They also have great imaginations too. So don't be surprised when your preschooler says a space alien must have taken that missing cookie because he certainly didn't eat it. 

While far fetched tales may not be harmful, it's important to teach your preschooler the difference between lying and telling the truth.

If your child tells a lie, ask, “Is that something that actually happened or something you wish happened?” Most children will then explain that it is just something they’re making up. Over time, your preschooler will learn language that will help her tell you it's a pretend story. 

If your preschooler lies to get out of trouble, give him a consequence for not being honest. Take away a toy or a privilege and tell him you expect him to tell the truth.

2. Whining

Preschoolers often think if you say no the first time, begging and whining will force you to change your mind. And in many cases, they're able to successfully annoy people into submission. 

But giving in when your child whines is a bad idea. It'll reinforce to your child that he has the power to get what he wants by whining until you can't stand it any longer.

Give your child the message that “No means no.” If you waiver at all, she’ll likely keep whining. Stick to your guns and eventually, she'll learn that whining isn't effective

The only thing worse than a whining 4-year-old, is a whining 14-year-old. Put in some extra effort now to make sure that whining doesn’t become a life-long habit for your child.

3. Baby Talk

In many homes, baby talk is near the top of the list of annoying preschool behaviors. But, reverting to baby talk can be a normal part of preschool development. 

Sometimes, preschoolers use baby talk to gain attention. At other times, they regress due to stress or anxiety. For example, a child may begin to use baby talk right before he enters kindergarten because he’s nervous about the transition.

You can handle baby talk similarly to the way you respond to whining. Set limits and remember, it’s likely a phase that should pass quickly. Just make sure you don’t accidentally encourage baby talk by giving it too much attention.

4. Defiance

Although preschoolers often want to be helpful, they also like to assert their independence. It’s common for them to say, “No!” when you tell them to do something just to see how you'll react.

Establish a list of household rules and make the negative consequences for breaking those rules clear. Be consistent in your discipline. Peschoolers will try to get away with misbehavior as long as they think there’s a slim chance they won’t get in trouble.

Use positive reinforcement to encourage compliance. Praise and reward systems, such as a sticker chart can increase the likelihood that your preschooler will follow directions.

5. Aggression

Most preschoolers have gained a little mastery over temper tantrums but still haven’t gained enough impulse control to prevent the occasional aggressive behavior. Hitting, kicking, and biting may still be a problem.

Respond to aggressive behavior with consistent discipline. Time-out teaches children how to calm themselves down. Taking away privileges can also be an effective consequence for aggression.

Teach your child problem-solving skills so she can resolve conflict peacefully. Also, teach your child about feelings so she can express her emotions with words, instead of by acting out how she feels. Aggressive behavior should subside as your child masters those skills.

View Article Sources