Correcting Your Preschool Child’s Bullying Behavior

How can we stop our preschooler from bullying other kids? Our 4-year-old is a bright and loving child, but he's also quite strong willed. His teachers have already talked to us several times about his uncooperative behavior — interrupting, ignoring instructions, etc. But now something more serious has happened. He recently pushed one student to the ground and hit two others. His only explanation was that these boys weren't his friends and weren't doing what he wanted! We don't allow this kind of behavior at home, but how can we make sure that he'll follow our instructions when Mom and Dad are not around?

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Your situation isn’t particularly surprising. Many four-year-olds have difficulty controlling their emotions, particularly anger. When they don’t get their way, it’s not unusual to see them resort to tantrums or even start lashing out at others. As an experienced parent, you probably know this already.

However, when a parent reports that a child acts one way at home and a different way at school, we usually find that one of two things is happening. One possibility is that the parent is in denial about the child’s true behavior problems. Their parenting style is more permissive, and they can’t admit to themselves that their child is developing negative character qualities. They are shocked when they learn that their supposedly sweet little boy or girl is a holy terror at school or church.

The other scenario involves a child who really does behave well at home, but only to avoid punishment. His parents tend to be serious disciplinarians, but neglect to place as much emphasis as they should on relationship. As a result, the child never internalizes positive character traits. He simply obeys in order to stay out of trouble. Then, when he finds himself away from home in a less rigid environment, he shows his true colors by acting out in a variety of ways.

We’d encourage you to examine how you are parenting your son. Are you providing a healthy balance between love and limits? Are you affirming and rewarding him for good behavior as well as disciplining him for negative behavior? Are you helping him develop compassion and understanding for others instead of simply adhering to a strict set of rules and regulations? Are you and your spouse on the same page when it comes to discipline, or is one of you more permissive while the other is more authoritarian? Honest answers to these simple questions may take you a long way in the direction of solving the difficulty you’re facing.

If you think it would be helpful to discuss your questions with a member of our staff, please feel free to call Focus on the Family’s Counseling department.

If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World

God, I Need to Talk to You About Bullying

No More Bullies: For Those Who Wound and Are Wounded

Teaching Kids to Be Respectful

Helping Kids Make Good Life Choices


How to Deal With Bullying

Copyright © 2013, Focus on the Family.

Talk to a Counselor

Focus on the Family offers a one-time complimentary consultation from a Christian perspective.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.