Question:  I have a child that started at my daycare about 3 months ago.  There has been plenty of time for him to adjust with the children.  But he goes around and takes toys from everyone, no matter what age they are.  Time out doesn’t work.  Saying sorry doesn’t work.  Talking to his father doesn’t work.  I’m out of answers.

Myrna Shure:  Time out and telling the child to say he’s sorry are externally imposed ways of handling problems, and talking to the boy’s father may make matters worse.  It is possible that grabbing toys is this child’s solution to whatever is really bothering him.  If something is going on at home, he may not reveal that but you can try by asking, “What is making you sad today?”  If he does reveal what’s bothering him, you can talk to him about that and a new comfort level may decrease his need to aggress against his peers. Your goal is to help the child think of ways on his own that he can meet his without forceful behavior.  Try asking questions as:

• How does ------ feel when you grab toys from him?
• What happened when you took his toy?
• Do you want that to happen?
• How did that make you feel?
• Can you think of something different to do so you both won’t feel that way and that won’t happen?

Most children don’t want negative consequences and don’t really like feeling angry. By asking this child to think about what he’s doing in light of his own and others’ feelings, what might (or did) happen, and what else he can do so those things won’t happen will help empower him, and he’ll be more likely to carry out his own ideas than those demanded, or suggested by others.