Home > Babies and Toddlers > Toddlers > Toddler Behavior and Discipline > 'Bad' Habits > Youngster Kicks and Bites Classmates

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Youngster Kicks and Bites Classmates

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I teach early childhood music education. I am currently teaching a child who is four and a half and kicks and hits other classmates when things don't go his way. Parents only response is that "He is a good boy". His verbal skills are OK but he is an ESL student. He understands everything I say to him. How can I work better with the children?

A: This is a youngster who has, at least in your class, inadequate violent impulse control. You clearly cannot have your class disrupted on a regular basis by this child. If indeed there is no language problem, I seriously doubt this aggressiveness is exhibited only in your class.

I would arrange a meeting with the boy's parents and their son. At this meeting I would begin by calmly looking at the boy and telling him how much you want to continue to teach him. Find some positive thing(s) to say about him. Then address the parents and go over some of the instances where their son has hit and kicked his classmates, saying that you want to help them and him in any way you can to control his outbursts and continue to have him in the class. Say something like, "Let's see if we can find out what bothers your son so much that he hits and kicks other kids. Maybe if we know what bothers him we can teach him to come to you or me and tell us IN WORDS what is bothering him. I'm sure we can all work together to make his music class more enjoyable for him and his classmates. Will you help me?"

Then I would turn to the boy and say, "I'm looking forward to a much happier time in class with you. If something or someone is bothering you please tell me right away with your words and we will work something out, OK?" If you receive denial and/or no cooperation from the parents and the boy's behavior continues to regularly disrupt your class, you need to ask the parents to withdraw him.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


Special Books for the Kids You Love
Celebrate 20 years of sharing love to the moon and back with the anniversary edition of Guess How Much I Love You, one of the world’s best-loved picture books. Plus, search our Book Finder for more great book picks. Brought to you by Candlewick Press.

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Top 10 Math & Science Apps for Your Whiz Kid
Looking for the best math and science apps for kids? Check out these cool apps for all ages, which will grow your child's love of the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks