Your phone rings and you see that its daycare calling…again!
For most parents, the sight of the daycare number on their cell phone or email inbox isn’t such a big deal because those parents aren’t used to getting a call, text or email about their child’s inappropriate behavior every single day (and sometimes more than once a day!).
But for you, the second you see that daycare is trying to get in touch with you, you’re stricken with panic:
- What did he do now?
- Is she going to get sent home again? I can’t leave today…I’ve got an important meeting this afternoon!
- Is this the call that will be the end, the one where they tell me that he can’t come back again?
When you sought out a daycare for your child, you thought about the usual things:
- Is it safe?
- Can I trust the provider(s)?
- How close is it to my house? To work?
- Will she have fun while she has to be away from me?
You never thought that “Will she get kicked out of daycare?” was going to be a question you would ask yourself. But unfortunately, here you are and here is that unimaginable question creeping into your mind again.
Is it Possible to Get Kicked out of Daycare/Preschool?
Since no one really considers whether a child will get kicked out of preschool when they are initially seeking out care for their child, the idea that a kid can actually get kicked out at such a young age seems absurd to most people. School expulsions are supposed to be for middle schoolers and high schoolers, not for toddlers and preschoolers, right?
A 2005 study found that preschoolers are three times more likely to get kicked out of school than kids in the K-12 system. There are a variety of reasons why this is happening, but right this moment, figuring out why this expulsion rate is so high is not your priority. Your priority is trying to figure out how to keep your child enrolled in his daycare while still ensuring that he can have an enriching daycare and preschool experience that doesn’t destroy his self-esteem and make him feel like everyone sees him as the “bad kid.”
How Can You Protect Your Child from Getting Kicked out of Daycare/Preschool?
The best thing to do to help prevent an expulsion for your child is to act quickly when behaviors emerge.So often, when I meet a child who is at risk of being kicked out of her daycare or preschool, it is after the director has told the parents that if it happens again, she’s out.
Reacting at this moment and attempting to improve the situation is often hopeless, because no matter how hard you and your child try to make the situation better, expecting perfection from a young child is just not an option. It takes time and patience to create changes that decrease aggression, defiance/arguing and other negative behaviors that so frequently can lead to this threat of expulsion.
Most parents tell me that their initial reaction when their child started showing difficult behavior at daycare was to blame the teacher(s) or the other kids. As a parent, you’re convinced that it can’t possibly be your child’s fault, so it’s much easier to assume that the teacher isn’t doing her job right or that other kids are negatively influencing your child to misbehave (and your child just happens to be the scapegoat.)
And you might be partially right; there may be things that your child’s teacher could be doing differently. But placing full blame on the teacher is only going to breed resentment between the two of you, create a negative environment for your child to spend the day, and ultimately not lead to much change within your child’s behavior.
To be helpful and to start making change immediately, there are a few things to consider:
Schedule a Meeting Right Away
The best environment for your child is one in which both the parent(s) and teacher(s) are on the same page. Meet with the teacher/provider and/or director as soon as it seems obvious that there are some challenges with your child’s behaviors. This means that if you’ve been receiving texts, calls or emails for weeks on end about your child’s behavior, you should get this meeting scheduled. Don’t wait until a behavior modification plan has been created or you’ve been told that it’s 3 strikes and you’re out; this means you’ve waited too long.
Balance Respect for the Teacher and Program with Advocacy for your Child
Approach the meeting (and all further communication with the caregivers and teachers) with respect, with a mutual goal of creating a plan for helping the days to go smoother for everyone. If the goal is focused on what the teacher/provider is going to do to accommodate your child only, this might leave a sour taste in her mouth. The role of caring for and educating children is an exhausting one, and one that most adults adamantly admit they would never want to do. A parent who comes into a meeting with high expectations for a provider without the respect and consideration of the difficult work associated with the job is not going to be met with respect and appreciation.
When advocating for your child (which you are more than entitled to do), be sure to balance it with a respect for the difficulty of the job and the needs of other children:
- Consider asking if certain ideas or suggestions are feasible in the setting versus telling them what they should be doing differently.
- Ask for their suggestions as guidance as the professional in the field of child care and education versus giving commands about what you think needs to be done.
- Advocate for your child’s needs without discounting the needs of other children in the program.
Hold Your Child Accountable
It is essential that parents address challenges in their child’s behavior immediately. Making excuses and hoping it is “just a phase,” do little to create change. If you want your child to overcome the challenges that are occurring right now, holding her accountable for her actions in an age-appropriate and respectful way is the best course of action to create change down the road.
For young children, it can be challenging to provide a consequence for a behavior that happened hours earlier in the day. Your two-year-old does not remember what happened earlier this morning, so taking toys away or otherwise attempting to “punish” her for a biting incident that happened at daycare hours ago is going to be non-productive.
However, this does not mean that you cannot hold her accountable for her actions. If biting or some other form of aggression is happening at daycare, emphasis on teaching appropriate use of hands should be frequent. While playing together, spending time with friends, cousins or extended family or even interacting with a family pet, you can help remind her of the expectations to use “nice touches”. Since this is a difficulty she has at daycare, then your diligence in teaching this lesson is very important and can aid in her ability to use less aggression while at daycare.
For older children, such as preschool-aged children, holding them accountable for behavior at daycare or preschool is very important. While I do not want every interaction a child has with parents and teachers for the day to be negative, it is still essential that as a parent, you have conversations and interactions with your child in a way that holds him accountable to his actions. If you make excuses and blame others for the behavior, he will pick up on that and not begin to move towards making change.
Consider having a goal that he is working towards, such as “showing respect to others” or “using nice hands” that you can check-in on regularly. Your child can work towards rewards, or perhaps have a consequence at home if the goal isn’t met.
Be sure not to over-punish. If your child was hitting at preschool and had to stay back for the field trip, that was his consequence. You can talk to him about what happened and reinforce the teacher’sdecision to take away the field trip, but it’s probably best not to also give him another time out or take away a favorite toy since he already paid the price for his choices at preschool.
*If it seems that your child is not responding at all to your attempts to hold him accountable and does not learn from is actions, it may be best to seek out help right away so that the underlying cause of the behaviors can be pinpointed. For children with ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder and other diagnoses and/or personality characteristics, the typical disciplinary approaches may not work and could only exacerbate the problem.
Seek Help Before Discussions about Expulsion
If it seems that the conversations you are having with your child’s caregiver(s) and your attempts to hold your child accountable are not helping to make progress, find help for the problem before discussions about expulsion start to take place. Once you have reached the point of talking about your child being kicked out of daycare, emotions are high and tension between parents and teacher and/or administration can be difficult to bounce back from.
It’s best to receive help before it gets to that point so that your child can receive the help he needs, you can learn how to support and guide him through to better behaviors and the teacher/provider can learn how to care for and educate your child in a way that best meets his needs for flourishing.
Hi! I’m Emily Learing and I am a Registered Play Therapist. As part of my work with children, I provide education and training for child care professionals, consultation with child care programs to help improve social and emotional challenges in their programs, and play therapy and parenting therapy for children and their families.
If you are seeking help for your child’s behaviors due to a fear that your child might be kicked out of daycare, I am here to help. I can work closely with your child’s daycare or preschool program (with your permission), observe your child in that environment, and make recommendations to help make days smoother and more enjoyable for your child while at daycare or preschool. I will work with you to help you to understand what you can do to help, while also working with your child in play therapy to build skills to improve the behaviors that are getting him or her into trouble on a regular basis.
If we start early enough, before talk about expulsion, we can all work together to keep your child enrolled in the program and receiving the care and education he or she needs to flourish!
Give me a call today so that we can talk more about how I can help!