'How Do I Stop My Toddler From Picking Up Bad Habits at Daycare?'

'How Do I Stop My Toddler From Picking Up Bad Habits at Daycare?'

A mom wants to know if she should approach other class parents.

"I noticed that my toddler is picking up bad habits, such as hitting and name-calling, from other students at daycare. How do I prevent this? Should I bring this up with the daycare instructors or the parents of the children teaching him the bad behavior?"

Annoying as some toddler bad habits are, according to Donna Tudda, director of the Diane Lindner-Goldberg Child Care Institute at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, you don’t need to worry about all the ones your kid might pick up at daycare. Throwing tantrums and using bathroom humor are “phases that young children go through to test the waters and boundaries,” she says.

It’s fine to ignore those, but hitting and name-calling need your attention. “Any behavior that is emotionally or physically harmful to your child—or other children—should not be allowed,” says Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D., author of Becoming a Happy Family: Pathways to the Family Soul.

If the slapping or teasing continues or worsens, go to your child’s daycare instructors directly to discuss how they can help you solve the issue. “Tell them what you’re seeing, and work out a plan to address the situation that can work in both the childcare and home,” says Tudda.

Jennifer Jipson, Ph.D., executive advisory board member of The Goddard School and associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Child Development at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA, says you can escalate the issue to your center’s director if you’d like, especially if you don’t get to see the head teacher much because of your schedule, but “it’s not appropriate to talk with the parents of the other children. The teacher or director can do that if they think it’s an important next step.” Odds are, your daycare won’t confirm which classmate is to blame anyway, even if your 2-year-old names the culprit.

If you’re not satisfied with your daycare’s approach to the situation—say, they’re shaming kids who do the wrong thing instead of modeling good behavior—then “it might be time to move on,” says Dr. Jipson. Yes, finding another childcare solution is a huge time investment, but if the result is a kid who learns not to hit or name-call, #worthit.

Written by Joseph Barberio for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.