Your child misbehaves severely at their childcare – something is terribly wrong!

Buzz, buzz. You check your phone and realize its happening again. ‘They just called yesterday! Can’t they take care of one 3 year old?’ you think to yourself. But you know, he misbehaves a lot, even for you. Mama Bear is about to take over, but you are still unsure if that is the right tact. You know something isn’t right, and you are ready for it to be fixed – you just don’t know what to do. Swallowing tears of frustration, shame, sorrow, guilt, you wonder if he will be going back tomorrow.  Wondering what you are going to do, you square your shoulders, prepare yourself and walk into the building.

What do you do when your child misbehaves?

This article updates one I wrote in 2014 and very little has changed. Mostly because children and childcare and parenting hasn’t changed much. I meet many parents the day after this experience. My heart still goes out to you all but now Acorn can offer you some practical, within the week assistance. But first, the overall information you need to know.

Knowing there is a problem is half the battle. It may feel really bad right now, but a child misbehaves to ask for help. Problems only get worse if they aren’t addressed.

What could be happening?

1. HALT — Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

This is an acronym that helps to remind me that we all get cranky when our bodies aren’t working right. Talk to those around your child and find out if there is a pattern. Do they have difficulty right before nap? Mid-morning? Right before pick up? Look at their eating habits. It is important to not jump to the next idea until you have really looked at your child’s pattern. Knowing when and how predictably your child misbehaves will let you explore how changes to the environment could help them behave better.

2. Physical Issues

There is good evidence that some behavior issues can be related to how a child experiences the world. Vision and hearing problems, certain allergies, illness, and sensory processing issues can all cause misbehavior. To learn more about sensory processing issues, check out the checklist on This is a great site to help you understand these issues. If you prefer a book, find the Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz.

3. Conflict Or Change At Home

Your child’s emotional, physical, and psychological world is based on the foundation of your home. If there is a lot of conflict, chaos, and inconsistency, your child will react to that. Can they count on spending connecting time with a parent? Has there been a big change recently? Involved grandparents become ill, parents separate, siblings are born, dogs die. Even good things can disrupt a child’s world such as a new home, new bedroom, and even a new pet.

4. Abuse/Neglect

As parents, we jump to this often and want to switch childcare or school the minute our child begins to act up. Not all childcare/schools are equal and there is clear evidence that predators target young children. However, most of the time the difficulties with your child do not arise from abuse or neglect. Most of the time, your child simply needs different skills than the teacher already knows or the difference between home and childcare confuses your child.  Hurt feelings on the part of a child are difficult to handle. Think about workplaces that were not comfortable but didn’t actually break any rules. Be sensitive to your child’s make-up and carefully evaluate how you feel your childcare or school is handling daily activities. A change in teachers or schedules may be difficult for your child.

Now what?

Now that you know something is wrong, where do you go? If you are concerned, don’t wait. Call Acorn! We have professionals well trained in how to help parents and childcare professionals deal with just about any issue. Our collaborative approach begins with parents, includes observation of the child at the childcare placement and a collaborative meeting with the childcare facility to talk about ways to offer a child consistency from home to school.  We will help everyone use the same words and provide the same interventions so the child learns faster. Helping families, childcare placements, and children maintain relationships through collaborative learning brings out the passion in Acorn Counseling. Email me at or call our professionals at 940-222-8703.

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