Behavior Problems in Preschoolers - FamilyEducation

Preschoolers and Bad Behavior

by Nancy Witting

Studies show that bad behavior is on the rise among preschoolers. Experts have some advice on how to address this problem.

In This Article:

Expelled at age two?

Over the past several years, a number of studies have shown a rise in behavior problems among preschoolers. Investigators say that these problems include "prolonged tantrums, physical and verbal aggression, disruptive vocal and motor behavior, property destruction, self-injury, noncompliance, and withdrawal." At the same time, the Yale Child Study Center has found that U.S. preschoolers are three times more likely to be expelled from their classrooms than students in grades K-12.

These findings are alarming, especially in light of the fact that challenging behaviors are one of the strongest predictors of more serious problems as kids grow older, including delinquency, aggression, anti-social behavior, and substance abuse.

What's going on? More importantly, what can we do about it?

Experts Weigh In
Research has clearly shown that attending a child care center gives most preschoolers a boost in pre-reading and math skills. However, it also often results in "negative social behavior," especially when a child starts attending a preschool before two years of age.

Many researchers view the continuing rise in bad preschooler behavior as an indication of the need for change in school programs and classroom management. But it's also up to parents to set limits for their children, and to avoid pushing them too hard, too soon.

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