How to Deal with Your Kid When They Hurt People at School

Dear Kid Whisperer,

My daughter is on her way to getting kicked out of preschool because she hits and bites kids. My husband and I work full time and there is no possible way that we can stay home with her. I guess my question is how do I get her to stop hurting kids at preschool so I don’t have to quit my job? –Kendra, Rockville, Illinois


I am going to suggest that you go to my website to learn some skills and procedures, but as you stated, we need to take care of this biting and hitting issue. Obviously, you need her to understand that if she hurts and bites at school, her life will get worse. In a perfect world her teachers would be doing this, but apparently that’s not happening.

If I were picking your daughter up from preschool and they told me that she had physically harmed someone, this is how I would make the hurting at school a non-functional behavior.

Teacher: Your daughter bit someone today. Again.

Kid Whisperer: Oh, man. That is really sad. I’m going to do something about it. I’ll do it later though. How sad for you, honey. Let’s go home. (To teacher) You will be seeing a drastic decrease in this behavior over the next few weeks.

Kid Whisperer takes his daughter home. During a calm moment at bedtime, he speaks.

Kid Whisperer: Honey, I owe you an apology. I think I have led you to believe that you are allowed to hurt people and then be around people after that. I’m sorry for that. From now on, until I know that you won’t be hurting people, you are not going to be around people besides me and your mom. I have already called your aunt and told her that the playdate with your cousins at the park is cancelled because I’m afraid that you may bite them.

Kid: NO FAIR!!

Kid Whisperer: I know.

Kid: What about school?

Kid Whisperer: I’m glad you asked. School is going to be a test time.

Kid: What in the world does that mean?

Kid Whisperer: Well, I am going to ask your teachers whether or not you hurt anybody that day at school. If they say “yes” you pass the test, and if they say “no” you fail the test. How many days in a row do you think you need to pass the test before you have shown me and the whole world that you can be around people without hurting them: four school days in a row or five school days in a row?

Kid: I don’t know! I hate this!

Kid Whisperer: Five days in a row it is. We’ll keep track by marking each pass day with a mark on your dry erase board so we don’t forget. Once you get to five school days without hurting anyone, you can start being around people again, or you can keep hurting people and never be around anyone. It’s all up to you. After you get to five days, you can keep being around people unless you hurt someone. So remember, when you hurt someone, it’s like you waving a big flag saying “I can’t be with people yet!” Thanks for understanding.

Just follow through with the plan. Sharing this plan with her teachers may buy you an extra hurting episode before she gets kicked out of school. This may or may not happen, but this plan will give you the best plan for success.