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.

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 Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!