Open Discussion Forum

  • 1.  3.5 yo Bribed at home leads to troube complying at school

    Posted 09-22-2022 12:36 PM
    One of our classrooms is facing a challenging student this year. This student is 3.5 years old and is frequently bribed at home to comply with family transitions and needs (getting into the car, etc.)  At school, he often will have a tantrum when the classroom is ready to "move" from what he wishes. Now, our classroom teachers allow him to continue playing what he wishes, but when it's time for the whole class to transition (go to the playground, eat lunch, get off cot after naptime). 

    His teachers this year have really been amazing, lowering the frequency from the start of the school year. Where the challenge is, he is a larger 3.5-year-old and has begun kicking during his tantrums. The teacher also doesn't always have the ability to sit through his tantrum if the rest of the class is going outside and they need to be with the class. 

    What we've come up with so far is to call admin to help the rest of the class at any time to move to their next location so a teacher can work with him. We've played with ideas of having teachers spend positive 1 on 1 time with him during free play and other parts of the day and not just when he throws a tantrum, having a sticker chart for him whenever he goes outside and back inside/gets off his cot after nap/ or one of his tougher transitions that will lead to a non-material reward (special job, reading with the director in her office, special lunch table spot). 

    Any suggestions for strategies that might be helpful are appreciated!

    Meredith Davis
    Program Coordinator
    Clayton Early Childhood Center
    Clayton MO

  • 2.  RE: 3.5 yo Bribed at home leads to troube complying at school

    Posted 09-23-2022 08:09 AM

    I am Shantell Dunnaville out of Richmond, Virginia.  You have done a great job building a trusting relationship with him.  Now it is time to teach him the process of transitioning with groups when called.  He is strong-willed now and shows similar characteristics of a child that has Defiant Disorders, Autism,.. The first thing you do is to look up what do you do for these kids.  You are not diagnosing the child .  Who knows the reason of why the child refuses to transition, you want to know methods on how to deal with the human characteristics and challenging behavior.  A suggestion is to design a few transition cards and laminate them.  Make him the caller to help roundup the group.  If after rounding up the group he runs, speak to his strength and tell him that you thought he was strong enough to hold the card and stand in line.  Maybe another person could take the job.  Continue working and complimenting his strength instead of working against it. Do not weaken the child into submission. Do not reward with a sticker or candy because that didn't teach him how to transition.  That taught him how to receive gifts in order to move.  This is a future leader.  We never listen. Teach us how to love others and teach us how to love ourselves.

    Shantell Dunnaville

    Andrea Dunnaville
    Curriculum Designer
    Imagination Station Preschool TV
    N Chesterfield VA

  • 3.  RE: 3.5 yo Bribed at home leads to troube complying at school

    Posted 09-23-2022 08:12 AM
    Also you can teach the child how to say good bye to an activity with transitional singing.  Saying good bye or goodnight to the toys, bye to playground. However, sing it. Repetition.


    Andrea Dunnaville
    Curriculum Designer
    Imagination Station Preschool TV
    N Chesterfield VA

  • 4.  RE: 3.5 yo Bribed at home leads to troube complying at school

    Posted 09-23-2022 08:54 AM
    Based on my experience, I recommend to offer parent education/parent coaching. The parents need to be part of the solution as they are part of the problem. I can help. I work with parents.
    LuzDalia Sanchez
    Astounding Families Alliance

  • 5.  RE: 3.5 yo Bribed at home leads to troube complying at school

    Posted 09-24-2022 02:24 PM
    Hi, Meredith -

    It's great that you are working with the teachers and the number of outbursts has lessened.

    Teachers' relationship skills affect a child's success. It sounds like you want your staff to accurately sense and understand each child's needs and respond effectively.
    Some children are hard to love or understand or cope with but they must be respected.
    And all behavior has meaning.

    Children get discouraged when they don't have a sense of belonging, love, or appropriate power. It sounds like the child you describe may need to feel powerful? And your staff may be feeling provoked and challenged? And it may be difficult for the teachers to provide a loving homebase for the child if they feel resentful of the behavior of the child and or parents?

    I learned a lot about modern guidance techniques and how to become an emotional partner with children and parents by attending LUME Institute (located in St. Louis) courses, workshops, and sessions at conferences with Steve Zwolak, Ovella "Ms. Peaches" Lott, and Christine Grosch.

    If you can access this article, it highlights how preschool educators affiliated with LUME - Christine and Paula Ayers emphasize compassion and problem solving.

    Other sources that have helped me identify how to be more effective in working with parents and children include learning about Jennifer Kolari's CALM technique which could help your teachers tolerate the misbehaving child and give that child something he needs - understanding – for example affect matching – which bypasses the language system – when the child sees on your face what the child is feeling - you are able to Connect, Affect match, Listen, and Mirror emotions - adults can help children avoid tantrums and produce oxytocin and not cortisol in their bodies.

    Jennifer Kolari on the Superpower of the CALM Technique
    Start at 27 minutes in at

    Sometimes our childhoods effect how we react in the classroom. If you google "shark music" by Circle of Security International, you can find a short video that illustrates how we may have been treated as children can affect our interactions in current situations.

    Other possible strategies:
    • Five-minute warning that the group will e.g., be moving from tabletop activities to playground
    • Acknowledge the child's feelings with words and affect matching – regarding the need have to leave the activity - mirroring the emotions of others can be a powerful way to help become an emotional partner with a child
    • Let child know the next time they can continue the activity
    • Mention some fun things they will get to do where they are going next
    • Say out loud to the whole class that you notice what is person is doing right now – children like to be noticed for the good/appropriate things they are doing – e.g. smile and say in a happy voice: "I see Isabella, Michael, and Mateo all have their coats zipped and are standing on their circles ready to go outside."
    • When transitioning from classroom to playground, one teacher of three year-old children that I worked with, had several children at a time each carry a capped half gallon or gallon plastic milk jug partially filled with sand and covered in a primary color - when they got outside they had to put their jug in a particular place, then returned their jug to its indoor place (They had a job, their hands were busy, and they were working on color knowledge, etc.)
    • When I had a problem with a child spitting, I got out a trash can and had the child do all the spitting they wanted to do into the trash can. The spitting did not last very long.
    • I had a 24 month old child in a classroom that swore regularly. I figured out what that child really liked to do - use a zippered backpack and go "shopping." I helped them learn how to use a zipper. We incorporated other children in the game with different "stores" around the classroom. Essentially, I helped redirect behavior when the child came into the classroom swearing and imitating parent behavior.
    • Sometimes I state the obvious. "We don't kick at school. You can be mad at me and tell me with your words you don't want to go outside, but you may not kick me. Kicking hurts. And I will not let anyone hurt you, either."
    • Remember the 5 to 1 ration in the classroom. Having five positive interactions to every one negative interaction best supports and sustains constructive student-teacher relationships – this can even include a smile from across the room!
    • Each child needs to be caught "being good" every day!

    I know being an educator can feel overwhelming at times.

    With best wishes -

    Cindy Strickland
    B.S. Home Economics, Child and Family Development, University of Missouri,1986
    M.A. Information Science and Learning Technologies (Library Science), University of Missouri, 2000
    Early Childhood Professional on and off for over 35 years, currently working as infant nanny in Chicago, IL

    Cynthia Strickland
    Park Ridge IL

  • 6.  RE: 3.5 yo Bribed at home leads to troube complying at school

    Posted 11-11-2022 03:30 PM
    Hey Meredith, 

    I clicked on this thread cause i have a few slots left in our behavioral concerns and social emotional learning training that we are giving away for FREE. So if you or anyone on your team is interested I'll provide the info below. 

    However, for this case it sounds as if there are 2 main issues contributing to the behavior. The big one is safety. The child is showing physical aggression towards adults during tantrums. This is emotional dysregulations. The child is upset has a big feeling and can not appropriately express it. For this I recommend emotion coaching. This is just intentional emotional learning. It of course is developmental and done in 3 stages.
    1. Recognize and identify emotions in self and others
    2. Understand emotions. Why someone is feeling a certain way. Intensity of emotions, and mixed emotions. 
    3. Emotional regulation. Coping skills to deal with big feelings in a healthy way. 

    The second concern would be socially the unwillingness to comply. Be sure to ignore protests. Have structures transitions that provide plenty of warnings. Celebrate every and all successes hugely! I am sure there are moments throughout the day that the child is compliant and successful in transitions. Celebrate and acknowledge as many of them as you can with genuine enthusiasm. Such as sitting on the carpet, raising their hand, washing hands, throwing away trash. Find the moments of success and help increase them with acknowledgement. 

    If the parent is using rewards (given after the child complies) that is fine! you can actually use that same idea in the classroom but eventually  wean them off with a token system. Bribery is what both parent's and you should avoid, which is the reward before the compliance occurs. 

    Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

    Eli Mast

    Eli Mast
    CEO / CO-Founder
    Joint Early Learning Ideas, LLC
    Jurupa Valley CA

  • 7.  RE: 3.5 yo Bribed at home leads to troube complying at school

    Posted 11-12-2022 08:32 AM
    Good morning, Ms. Mist,

    I would love to attend you behavior concerns and emotional training class I see that there are a few slots left open if I'm not to late. My name is Keima Dean. 


    Keima Dean

  • 8.  RE: 3.5 yo Bribed at home leads to troube complying at school

    Posted 11-12-2022 09:36 AM
    I love this clarification of the difference between rewards and bribery!

    Margery Heyl
    Chicago IL