Question:  My son is four years old and in Pre-K.  His teacher said that he has been very disruptive during nap time. He makes funny noises, laughs and kicks the other kids, ruining nap time for everyone.  At home, he has rules.  There are consequences for good and bad behaviors so he does his work and tries hard to follow our instructions.  How can I help him do the same in school?  The teacher is not consistent implementing rules and just gets upset with him and I think my son sees that and just takes advantage of her.  He is very bright and can be manipulative.  If you let him walk all over you, he will but if he is placed in a structured environment where he knows that the rules are and everyone is consistent at responding to his good and bad behaviors, he does well.  Please help.

Myrna Shure: I’m not sure the reason for your son’s behavior is due to inconsistency of rules at school, or something about nap time in particular, since that is the only time you mention his disruptiveness.   

If your child is behaving this way simply because he wants to be disruptive, either for the sake of being disruptive, or because he is feeling overpowered, his need for this can be reduced and eventually eliminated by giving him a sense of control over his life.  The teacher might start by asking him how he is feeling at the moment he acts out, and then, in a genuine information-seeking tone of voice – not in a threatening tone – ask, “Why are you (making loud noises, kicking someone, etc.).  This question gives the child the opportunity to express what’s on his mind, and knowing what’s bothering him may help to solve the problem.  

Should your child actually say, “I don’t want to nap,” the teacher might try giving him a quiet activity while others are napping, preferably, a quiet activity of his choice.  It may be as simple as that.

Either of the above scenarios will show your son that you and his teacher care how he feels, and respect his needs.  This will go much further than insisting he follow the rules, which, in this case, might not have anything to do with the real problem at all.