Unlearning Bad Behavior

One of the most common issues I faced when I worked as a director of a preschool was finding parents who struggled with their child who learned bad behavior and brought it to school. This ranged from using inappropriate words overheard by adults to mimicking other children or siblings.

The parent always felt embarrassed but how can they protect their child from everything in the world. Besides being impossible, it is part of the child growing up and developing their own personality and ways of handling problems.

One of the stories I will share is the typical child who would curse. He was four years old and had been at the preschool since one and half years old. When we called Mom to explain that her son was using bad words and that one of the other students went home and used the word, she denied it was her son.

The child continued to use the “bad” word and Mom continued to deny it. The approach the teachers took was trying to teach him to use a different, more appropriate word when he got angry such as, fudge or doodoo. Yeah, well that worked for a day!

We asked Mom to come into the center so the teachers and I could have a meeting to discuss a plan so we were all on the same page. At first she continued to deny that any cursing was occurring in front of her son. Then one of the teacher assistant’s asked if he could enter the meeting and we agreed to incorporate him as he was a parent of five children.

All he had to do was look at the mother and say, “I hear the fighting going on in the mornings when you drop off Greg*.” The mother’s eyes began to swell up and tears just began to fall. She said she doesn’t mean for Greg* to hear the fighting and cursing happening between her husband and herself but they were going through a rough time. She has asked her husband to not fight around their son and he just uses more curses.

We did not feel the explanation needed to go any further and asked her how we can be proactive in helping the situation occurring in the classroom. Remember, parents and teachers can work together when trying to resolve a bad behavior situation. No one likes to be approached or told their child is misbehaving but by working together with your child’s school, many times the problem can be controlled if not resolved.

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