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I am a single mother of a very outgoing 4 1/2 year old. She has been in preschool since January.

For the most part, she is a very well-behaved girl, but when she goes to school, there is nothing. She won't listen; she is disruptive; she talks back, hits, kicks, and throws things.

When she goes to a sitter, she is well behaved. I have been told by her sitters that she is a joy to have. I know she can be good at school; she has done it in the past, but it does not last.

They are at the point of kicking her out. I am at my wits end. I have tried praising her when she has good days and grounding her from things when she has a bad day. When asked why she is acting this way it is always a different answer, but mostly that another kid does not like her. Nothing has changed within our family recently but it is getting worse and worse.

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If your kid acts up only in preschool, then there is something which only happens there and that triggers this behaviour. This maybe the behaviour of a certain kid towards her (eg. someone calls her "a baby" and she hits back), but it can also be something about the surrounding, like a room with little personal space or daylight, etc. You should ask your preschool teacher to identify what happens just before she attacks another kid - Does she always go after the same kid? Is this more likely to happen at certain time of day (eg. before a meal, or after some kids already go home, etc)? Are there some things kids say which drive her crazy? Is there a certain toy or object over which they fight...? You should also ask the teacher (in a most friendly manner!) what do they do when this happens. Do they discipline her somehow or just let it pass or... - because whatever they're doing is obviously not helping the situation and it is their responsibility to make sure that no-one in the class gets hurt or violated in any way.

At the same time, you should teach your kid a different response to taunting or provocation (eg. ignoring, telling the teacher, etc) and you should also teach her about how other people feel when we hit them. You may have already had these conversations with her, but 4 year olds need to hear things more that once before it sinks in.

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  • You may have to think about taking your child to a different school. And if this is something that you can do, the sooner the better, before she loses the ability to distinguish between "this school" and "schools". As DadOfTwo mentioned, there may be something specifically happening at this school causing the problem. The best thing is to find it and eliminate it, either at the source or by moving to a new environment. We had a situation where a child was tormenting our daughter at day care to the point that she was chewing her sleeves to shreds. It took the school months to tell us. – Francine DeGrood Taylor Sep 15 '15 at 19:24
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    I didn't mention it in my answer, but we actually had to transfer our kid, too... It was a mix of factors. Kids were crammed in a small room and he gets nervous in crowded spaces, then there was this boy who'd always tease him and finally the teacher's way of dealing with this was to send him to stand in the corner without further explanation... He flourished when we changed the school! It took him about a month to adapt and to give up on this behaviour completely, but now it's been almost a year without any incidents! – DadOfTwo Sep 16 '15 at 9:12

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