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My son just turned 3 and moved to a new daycare 4 weeks ago. He had a good first few days and his behaviors have gotten steadily worse. He’s spitting, hitting, biting, and pinching. He’s had bitting problems in the past but we’ve worked with the past daycares and he got better. His last real issues at daycare was in Jan. The kicker is he doesn’t do these at home very often. He’s stubborn and will tell us now and climb but not to the extent they are claiming at daycare. They are very structured and the place before wasn’t. We have tried everything we can thing of but have no idea where to go from here. They have told us if he doesn’t improve they will ask him to leave. This is one of the few daycares in the area and it also functions as a preschool which we will need next year. Any advice is welcome. Thanks.

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For the most part, at that age there's not a lot you can do that will have a direct, immediate impact. At home, you're best off focusing on helping him learn to manage his emotions as a skill, as opposed to retreading the issues from daycare; hours later, he won't recall much if anything from earlier and he won't really learn much.

Instead, focus on what you can help him learn that will help him in the future, the next time this comes up. Roleplay issues with him. Give words to his feelings, so he has the vocabulary to understand what he's feeling and to describe them to the teachers. This is a phase, and one that many children go through; both of mine did (more one than the other), and both of mine were on the other side also with several other children. You can help him learn, but some of this is maturation as well, and takes time.

The most troubling thing here, honestly, is that it sounds like the daycare is not taking responsibility for their job here. This is not an uncommon issue for toddlers at this age. Biting, hitting, all of it is normal to some extent; we learn over time how to handle our emotions and our differences without these things. The daycare should know how to handle this, and should be handling it. If it were me, I'd see this as a sign to find another daycare, rather than worrying about something being wrong with my son.

If this is impossible, as it seems you're suggesting, then what you can do with them is a few things.

  1. Sit down with them and talk about how they handle the children when issues arise. Ask them what you can do at home to help. Be very open to suggestions, and come with some of your own. This shows that you're a dedicated parent who wants to help make things better, and not only means you're working with your son (and thus are more likely to be able to resolve things) but also shows that you're more likely to be cooperative yourself with them. This is important, because even if you aren't able to change anything, this decreases the likelihood they will kick you out.
  2. If they'll let you, spend some time observing where your son can't see you. Observe situations that come up, and how they handle them. Then, have a discussion of what happened when you were there and how they handled things. You might be able to give them pointers for how to handle things better; and you might also be able to learn something about what triggers these issues so that you can help your son.
  3. Find out how your child feels about the daycare. If this is a new issue for him, it's probably just because of the new situation - change is always hard for children - but it could also be that he doesn't mesh well with one or more of the children, or with one or more of the teachers. It's entirely possible that there is some irritant causing your son to act out. It's very likely there isn't, but do your homework just in case. When you observe as in 2. above, you may be able to see some of this, but it's just as valid if you ask your son about his teachers - if he has a strong negative reaction to one of them, well, perhaps you should talk to the other teachers and find out why.

Do realize though that they may already be planning to kick you out, and just are going through the motions. Right now I'm sure they can have their pick of kids - so they're more likely to be aggressive with removing kids that are more work for them. So there might not be anything you can do. I knew a child who went to the school my son goes to, who just didn't work out with that school - she was a bit higher maintenance, and the school decided they didn't want to keep her. It happens, and it's not your fault or his fault if it does. Just pick up and find another option; and probably even if you don't want to, now is the time to figure out what those possible options are, just in case.

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