How to Handle a Toddler Acting Out in Daycare

January 29, 2019

Children display a wide array of behavior in school and at home. A lot of factors trigger these behaviors and stems from different things, like seeing their parents argue. Some kids think that they caused the arguments and bring those thoughts to daycare centers.

What to do with a toddler acting out in daycare?

A toddler acting out in daycare means a lot of things depending on the point of view. But first, don’t stress yourself about it. Acting out does not necessarily mean that parents can just sit back and accept everything the toddler throws at them. This phase in their lives teaches them about discovering things on their own, mimicking the people around them, and exploring the world.

Here are some tips that parents can follow to manage their toddler’s bad behavior at daycare.

Talk with them, one on one

What triggers the toddler to suddenly act badly at daycare? At times, toddlers goof around during their classes and disregard what their teacher gave them to do. If they had a bad day, avoid forcing them to open up to you and just let them have their own time first.

Give them their timeout and let them breathe.

Repetitively asking the toddler what happened does not teach them to resolve things on their own. They depend on their parents and teachers for resolution. Let them understand why the teacher reprimanded them or why they called their parents.

When parents give toddlers their time off, it teaches them to reflect on what transpired during the day. Then, parents can slowly converse with them without enduring tantrums. Also, parents can start sharing these with their toddlers:

  • Tell them about empathizing with the people around them. Let them identify which behaviors annoy them from the start.
  • Identify the bad behavior they do to others and tell them the consequences of doing these actions.
  • Inform and guide them to improve their behaviors, such as politely conversing with adults as well as their teachers and classmates.

Cultivate respect in conversing with them

Children play all the time with their classmates, friends, and siblings. Sometimes, their playtime gets rough and they end up fighting with each other. When parents witness this rowdy behavior, they immediately switch to the disciplinarians they are and scold their children quickly. That causes further turmoil in the household and discourages communication within the family.

To avoid these kind of situations, parents can coordinate with the daycare staff and let them mediate between the children. Then, they can ask for suggestions on how to deal with their toddlers. Teachers can suggest to treat them with the same respect they give to any of their friends or colleagues. Basically, treat them as equals.

Refrain from using these phrases:

  • I’m warning you, stop.
  • Stop doing this, now!

Instead, use these phrases to make toddlers feel you acknowledge their emotions:

  • “Theo, I observed you pinched Callie a while ago. It might not bother her yet, however, please tell me if she did something to upset you.”
  • “Instead of punching your brother for that toy, let’s begin with telling me what bothers you right now.”

Using a friendlier tone and words helps toddlers understand that their parents want to listen to them. Remember to ask how they’re feeling before telling them what to do.

Acknowledge the child’s good behavior

Most of the time, parents forget to acknowledge their children for their good behavior at home and in school. Teachers give toddlers stars or stamps that symbolize they performed well. If children feel their parents neglect them, this can cause them to act out in daycare just to make their parents notice them. They long for attention and validation.

Now, to prevent their bad behavior, parents need to praise their children’s behavior. When children wait in line without wandering off, parents can reward them with either a toy or kind words. When kids grab their own food, tell them they’re doing a great job being independent.

Take note that nurturing good behaviors is easier than challenging inappropriate ones.

Develop a good relationship with daycare teachers

When toddlers begin preschool or daycare, they meet a lot of people, especially their teachers. For toddlers, teachers are their parents in school and connecting with their teachers results in more fun at school.

Parents may tell children that their teachers help them with their academic challenges and nurture them. Teachers make children feel safe and comfortable in school, all the time.

Some parents may do these:

  • Ask about activities that the teacher plans on doing.
  • Let the toddler bring a gift to the teacher.
  • Enthuse them about participating in different school activities.

When a good relationship exists between parents, toddlers, and teachers, bad behavior gets debunked and positive behavior gets reinforced.

Check out the different classes at daycare

Various classes exist in different daycare institutions. These cater to the different needs of the children to improve their skills in different aspects. However, some parents can stay at the school and check on their toddlers to see how they’re doing. This allows parents to know how their child behaves in school. It also allows parents to get feedback and share suggestions about different school policies.


Parents wonder how to manage a toddler’s bad behavior at daycare, especially when they drop them off. Some toddlers struggle with knowing their parents went away for a few hours and act out in daycare. Teachers do their best to prevent this ill behavior. Imagine Nation Learning Center shares these tips for preschool parents to help curb bad behavior among toddlers.

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