Just a few months ago I wrote about Greyson’s first day of preschool. It has been 5 months since he started school and there have been some major challenges / changes in him that I completely unexpected – and quite frankly I was not prepared for it at all.
I started noticing this Preschool Personality Change (at least that is what I have been calling it), a few weeks into preschool. I was worried something was wrong, but after reaching out to some other moms, asking if they had experienced something similar they all told me “YES!…. it is terrible isn’t it?!?!” I as relieved that I was not alone, but also determined to get it under control. So after 5 months, I feel like I have some usable advice that I can share with all of you!
So, here is what actually happened. About two weeks after preschool began for Greyson I noticed that me usually happy, sweet, loving, kind, and patient son had turned into an angry, grumpy, VERY impatient son. It was beyond frustrating. I found that pretty much anything would send him into a total meltdown. Previously meltdown were very RARE but the began happening daily! Scott would come home from work and it was pretty common to have the following conversation:
Scott: ….. Why is Greyson sobbing?
Me: ….. because I told him his hair looked nice
….. because I told him I was making his favorite meal for dinner
….. because I coughed and it was “too loud”
…..because I asked if he wanted to play a game with me
see where I am going with this? Total meltdowns FOR NO REASON WHAT.SO.EVER!! I still do not know why kids go through this terrible change, but I do have some tips to “work it out”. Here is what we did:
- We have to be out of the house by 8:05 in the morning, for a 15-20 minute drive to preschool. If Greyson sleeps past 7:15 it can be a bit hectic to get us out of the house (especially now with Hudson). Make your mornings run smoother for you and your child by
- Picking out what everyone is going to wear the night before
- Make sure you have gasoline in your car so you do not have to stop
- Make sure you have food for breakfast (see more below)
- Set everything that your child will need for school the next day so there are no frantic last minute searches.
- By doing everything above you’ll be sure to have a better mood which directly affects your child’s mood, and their day!
Better Eating Habits
- Make sure your child is eating healthy. Increase the fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Cut down / out the processed, high sugar, and nutrient depleted foods. We struggle with Greyson getting enough vegetables. He says he only likes corn. However, he loves green vegetables in a “squeezer” *insert Eye Roll!* So I keep some organic squeezers on hand. It is not how I want him to get his veggies, but at least he is getting them!
- I found that a hot breakfast makes a big difference for Greyson. Not only does it fuel him for a busy morning, but it makes sure his blood sugar level stays even. Helping to eliminate or at least limit meltdowns
- Greyson gets picked up at 11:15 and even though they have snack time at preschool he is absolutely starving. I make sure to have a plan for lunch as soon as we walk through the door.
- DO NOT eliminate their nap times! Even if their new school schedule means it will mess up any time you have to run your errands. They still need them. If you are blessed with a child who refuses to nap, implement “quiet” time. A time where they have to stay in bed and just rest or read. They are not allowed to get out of bed and play. They have to rest.
- Greyson use to go to bed at 12:30, but I found that lunchtime was rushed for him and he started saying he did not want to go to Preschool because as soon as he came home he would have to nap. So, I moved his nap time to 1:00. This allows him some downtime or playtime at home between the end of preschool and nap time.
- Bedtime- We moved bedtime up by 30 minutes. We use to begin the bedtime routine at 8:00 – brushing teeth, potty, PJ’s, and story. We start this at 7:30 now. Greyson was staying up in bed looking at books, and pretending to read. This is great BUT he needs to sleep, so if he was going to be doing this anyway, we moved his bedtime up (he has no clue), and he is sound asleep at a more appropriate time.
- Now the hard part- correcting the inappropriate behavior that seemed to come out of no where. Here are a few things I want to mention. It might help to understand my methods better.
- I do not spank. I am not here to judge, however, I do not feel it appropriate. As an adult cannot wrap my mind around hitting a child. There has been a lot of research done on the effects of spanking, you can check out this info-graphic for more info on spanking.
- Both Scott and I have some pretty strict expectations for our son. We know what he is capable of behavior wise, and we expect that of him! So know what YOUR child is capable of, sit down and make sure your preschooler knows and understands your expectations – as wells as the consequences of misbehavior
- When he does not meet those expectations, I usually follow these steps:
- Tell him what (specifically) he is doing that is not appropriate – and give them a chance to correct the behavior. When they don’t…
- I tell him that I am going to count to 3 and if his behavior has not been corrected he will (I tell him one of the following, depending on what he is doing that is wrong)
- Stand in the corner. He stands there for 4 minutes quietly. If he is sobbing the timer does not start until he calms down. He can sometimes stand for quite a while.
- Something will be taken away until he earns it back. Currently this works the best.
- he will have to go to his room, and sit on his bed until he can correct his behavior
- Once the behavior has been corrected or the punishment is over I get down to his eye level and explain to him what he did that was wrong, WHY it was wrong, and what we expect from him in the future.
- Always, and I mean ALWAYS he has to apologize for the behavior, and to anyone he has hurt by it. He has to say he is sorry and WHY he is sorry. If he does not know why, then I have failed. I’ve failed because he obviously does not know the expectations, and I was not clear as to why he is being punished. This also goes both ways, when I yell for reasons that are not necessary, I make a point to apologize to him.
- MOST EFFECTIVE PART
- I have found that for Greyson the best way to stop bad behavior from creeping up is focusing on his good behavior. Instead of harping on him for everything he does wrong, I try to seek out moments that showcase the proper behavior and point it out to him, and praise him. OR I make sure he overhears me telling Scott what he did during the day that was “good”.
- It is also important for me to remember that he is only 4 years old, and still learning what is acceptable and what is not. I do not expect him to be perfect. I expect him to be kind. Remember that kids are humans too, and they (just like us) have good days, and are allowed to have bad days.
- My method is certainly not perfect. Greyson still whines, and gets upset for ridiculous reason, but overall his behavior has improved even with the addition of a baby to the family!
So there you go! How we deal with bad behavior for our son.
I would love to know if you have experienced the terrible phenomenon of the Preschool Personality Change – and what you are doing / have done to deal with it!