How to Encourage Children to Be Cooperative at Daycare

Your child has learned well. He or she says please and thank you, and he or she shows the proper respect in nearly every situation. As far as you can tell, your child has already grown into a miniature lady or gentleman, so you assume that your child will behave well at daycare.

However, you get a report that your child acted out during a lesson or activity. Then the reports start arriving in earnest. Your child doesn’t behave the same way at daycare the same way he or she behaves around you. You don’t want to punish your child, but you want to make sure he or she has a better experience at daycare. What do you do?

Below, we’ve listed a few key strategies that you can use to ensure your child behaves well at daycare. Good behavior won’t just cause you fewer headaches and help your child grow. It will help him or her have a more constructive experience at daycare as well.

1. Spend Time with Your Child

Bonding helps you check your child’s behavior better than anything else. Once you hear reports of misbehavior, take your child aside for a short activity, like a walk in the park. During the walk, ask your child about what happened that day and listen to his or her story. Ask why the misbehavior occurred, and remember to reassure your child that you love him or her.

At this point, you need to logically explain why your child can’t behave that way at daycare. Some children behave better if they know why they should do it.

Children also behave better if they know it will make their parents happy. As long as your child knows that you love him or her, that love will motivate him or her to impress you. Often, this means that your child will respect your wishes and behave better at daycare.

2. Use Constructive Bribery

If you want bribery to work, you can’t just say, “If you’ll stop misbehaving, I’ll give you a candy bar.” You shouldn’t even do this if your child misbehaves in line at the grocery store. It provides a temporary solution to a long-term problem.

Instead, if you want to use bribery, you should take the following steps:

  • Remind your child why he or she attends daycare. The daycare facility helps your child learn and stay safe while you go to work.
  • Give your child an assignment every day. This could extend to almost anything, including giving a treat to an instructor or friend. Your child could also have the assignment to pick trash up around the room or give someone a compliment.
  • If your child fulfills the assignment, give him or her a prize. Make the prize an experience rather than a toy or treat. Your child will benefit from time at the playground or library more than from a candy bar. You’ll also spend less money this way.
  • When you bestow the prize, give your child praise for completing the task. Tell him or her how proud you feel.
  • Use daily bribes to work your child up to perfect behavior.

Once your child exhibits perfect behavior at daycare, don’t stop with these “bribes.” Encourage your child to come up with his or her own assignments. This will teach your child to empathize with other people.

3. Instruct, Don’t Yell

If poor behavior continues, resist the urge to yell at your child. Yelling won’t help. Instead, stay calm and patient. If necessary, leave the room for a moment. When you return, explain what you wanted. You wanted him or her to act politely at daycare. Explain why. Then give you child an order: “Be nice to your teachers and classmates at daycare.”

At this point, you can start putting a reward or bribery system in place. Remember to make the bribe an experience, not an object. Experiences help your child learn and grow.

4. Follow Through with Consequences

Along with the reward system, include a set of consequences. Have your child decide on these consequences with you. This help your child feel respected and valued. Then, if misbehavior continues, follow through on those consequences.

Consequences could include no playtime with friends for a week, extra chores, no dessert, etc. Remind your child that he or she agreed to these consequences. This way, he or she will fight less during the punishment.

5. Speak with the Teacher

If all else fails, arrange to speak with your child’s teacher. Your child may act out for other reasons, such as a bully, a hard project, or a bid for attention. In these situations, you’ll need the teacher’s help to control unruly behavior. Just remember to interact with the teacher as cordial adults. He or she didn’t cause the problem in most cases, and the teacher works hard to provide a constructive, welcoming environment for your child.


Use the tips above to encourage your child to behave just as well at daycare as he or she does at home. Your child will make more friends, discover more talents, and learn more skills this way. For further strategies to help your child succeed at daycare, read the rest of our blog. 

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