I just took my child to preschool. Another child has just been brought in by their parent (we've just crossed paths at the front door of the preschool).

While my child started to take off their jacket, I engaged the teacher. I needed to call her to the door because it's too loud in the room so we would not understand each other from the distance.

The teacher came to me, and I ask her question about "the rule in the preschool not to bring own toys" which I think is stupid. Immediately the other child came over, jumped close to the teacher and very loudly said something about their toys. This broke our conversation because now the teacher's attention was on that other child - ever when the teacher was trying to keep eye contact with me.

This was not the first time this happened with the other child.

Should I react and say to the other child to step away because they were disturbing our conversation? Should I rely on what the teacher does? What if in my opinion the teacher does not handle that situation properly?

  • I'd encourage you to post the "rule" in another question - I think it could lead to some interesting answers as to why they may have this rule in place.
    – Joe
    Dec 9 '19 at 16:24

It often helps in any difficult situation to take some time to put yourself in the other person's shoes.

Should I react and say to the other-child to step off because it's disturbing our conversation? Should I rely on what teacher does? What if in my opinion the teacher does not handle that situation properly?

I think telling the teacher how to handle the situation better is fine if and only if it would be perfectly OK if she were welcome to come to your place of employment and tell you how you can improve significantly in your job performance. Seriously. This is her job, and you're on her turf. That you have a child attending that preschool doesn't make it ok to tell someone how to do their job the way you prefer.

I think that correcting a child while their parent - or someone acting in authority over the child (in loco parentis) - is not wise, and often ends badly (whether you see the difficulty it causes or not.) Again, if it would be perfectly OK for an acquaintance to correct your child in front of you at your home, then you're well within your right to correct the little interrupter.

However, you need to understand that, just as your parenting should not be usurped by a relative stranger in your own home, this is her job, her place of employment, her choices on how to run her class. You have no idea if she took the little interrupter aside and spoke to him (a teaching moment) about interrupting.

Should I rely on what teacher does?


Arrival time at any school is a busy time, not a great time to have a discussion with someone in charge of the students. If you have something you want to discuss with the teacher, it is far better to do it after the children leave at the end of the class, or to make an appointment with her to meet a few minutes early to discuss the matter.

You didn't ask about the following, but I can give you two good reasons it's not so stupid.

The teacher comes to me, I ask her question about "the rule in the preschool not to bring own toys" which I think is stupid.

First, if a child brings their own toy, they may feel possessive about it and not share, causing problems. If all toys are there for everyone equally, it is easier to teach about sharing.

Second, if your child's favorite toy breaks while two kids are engaged in a tug-of-war over it, the school does not want to be responsible to replace it. Sounds fair to me to leave precious (and not-so-precious) personal items at home.

  • 1
    Also, bringing toys to/from home is a great way to transmit daycareitis. Dec 9 '19 at 16:11
  • what's daycareitis? Dec 10 '19 at 8:40
  • 2
    @MarianPaździoch - It's a nick-name for minor but inconvenient illnesses like colds/sore throats/minor GI disturbances. Kids who are around lots of other kids average about 10-12 such illnesses a year. Dec 10 '19 at 15:43

Personally, I would let the teacher handle it, even if it meant she didn't handle it to my satisfaction. Besides the fact that wanting/demanding the teacher's attention immediately seems like normal, if irritating, preschooler behavior, there are a few reasons why directly intervening or correcting the child may not be the optimal solution.

First, correcting another person's child's manners when they are not present could cause tensions with the other parents or the teacher, as it can come across as rude or overstepping. It could also seem like undermining the teacher in her classroom, and cause problems in that way. In addition, it just doesn't seem like you are likely to be able to solve the issue of a preschooler wanting the teacher's attention in any kind of long term way; even if the kids listens to you in this particular conversation, there are lots of other possible interrupters in the room that might just try to join in next time you need to tell the teacher something.

Overall, if talking to the teacher at drop-off time is not possible because of this child, or the children in general interfering, it may be better to send a note or set up a meeting to talk to the teacher when class is not in session. Particularly if you want to discuss the fact you disagree with a classroom rule, or would like an exception made, talking about it in front of the kids may not be appreciated by the teacher.


In general, it's not your place to interact with another child at school in any way other than a positive one. Correcting a child is the domain of those who have a certain relationship with them - a parent or one who the parent designates as managing the child, such as a teacher or nanny or relative. Perhaps if it is your own friend's child that would be different (as you'll likely be at least sometimes in that relationship with the child, watching them while your friend goes to the movies); but if it is a stranger's child, it is not your place to correct them, any more than it would be in the park or on the street.

Think of this the other direction: if your child was doing something that you considered reasonable (or at least, not needing correction), but another parent did not, would you think it appropriate for them to step in?

I also think, though, that you should reflect on your feelings on this matter. Even from what you've described of the situation - meaning, with just your opinion, not seeing the other side - I don't see anything wrong here. Children interrupt all the time; they want to give their opinions on things, they want to show you what they know, they want to just talk. It's unreasonable to expect a three or four year old to entirely keep out of conversations, and frankly it's not positive to do so. Children learn social behavior by doing just this; the teacher will teach them, over time, how to correctly interject into a conversation, but it's not something that is instantaneous. You seem like you're really bothered by this, and want to instantly fix it, but that's just not reasonable with a 3-4 year old, and that's likely why the teacher isn't attempting to.

I also strongly agree with the others here, that dropoff/pickup aren't the times to have these conversations in general - they're when the teacher is most busy, after all. My younger son's school (which is a preschool and elementary) explicitly prohibits us from coming inside to talk to the teacher from 5 minutes before dropoff begins. Pickup is more relaxed, but only if you're at a later than default pickup time (when there's far less children to manage). If you disagree with a policy, have that discussion at a prearranged time outside of school hours, or email/text/etc. the discussion.

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