How can I fix the bad habits my daughter has picked up at daycare?

My 23-month-old was a well behaved little toddler until she went to daycare. Now she is whining like there is no tomorrow. She never used to do this and I am not sure how to stop it? I have told her it’s not nice to whine and mommy doesn’t like it without success. She is also hitting and she never did that before either. Can these bad habits be broken or do I have to remove her from daycare and hope she forgets what she has seen? ¬†Please help!

Children often pick up new ways of doing things at daycare. Some of these habits are good, others a challenge.

There are several strategies that you should use to help your daughter.

1. Pay a lot of attention to her positive behavior e.g., when she is friendly, nice to people, or helpful. Notice specific good behavior at least five times more often than you notice negative behavior.

Notice the good by:

  • saying things like “I really like it when you …”
  • smiling at her
  • giving her hugs
  • telling others about her good behavior so she can hear it

Paying attention to her good behavior will improve your relationship with her. She will learn to value what you think.

2. Your daughter knows you don’t like her to whine and complain. No need to tell her over and over. Ignore her whining and complaining every time. Don’t give her any attention for her whining and complaining. Don’t punish her. Just turn away. This is very hard to do. She will increase her whining and complaining for a few days or a week or maybe even more. It is important that you be consistent.

3. When your daughter hits you or anyone else, firmly say “No hitting”. Put her in a 2-3 minute time out. That is put her in a boring place, maybe a chair in the corner for 2 minutes after she is quiet and stays in the chair. Don’t give her a lecture. Don’t get angry, just be firm.

We have used this combination of strategies to help the parents of hundreds of children get control of problems like those of your daughter. It is hard to do but works really well.

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