Category School Issues
Title Should Preschool Programs Adopt an Aggression Policy?
Author/s Sara Jo Dillard
Preview Discusses possible school policies and procedures in light of increasing instances of preschooler aggression.
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Should Preschool Programs Adopt an Aggression Policy?
By Sara Jo Dillard, MEd, ACSI Early Education Field Director, Eastern States   

Over the past several years, elementary, middle, and high schools have adopted bullying and or aggression policies to protect their students. This hot topic has been placed on the front burner of most school agendas because of increased aggressive behavior by students. Research indicates that childhood aggression is also escalating at younger ages in today's society.  

Aggression in young children often occurs when emotions build up and need a physical outlet. When young children cannot verbalize their feelings, they often turn to physical acts to get their message across. A safe school environment is imperative for all children, and preschool program personnel should understand their responsibility in this area. When one child's safety is endangered during class because of an aggressive act of another child, decisive action must be taken by the preschool staff. Does your school have a policy that outlines actions the teachers should take when a child's aggressive behavior is a threat to other children? Are the teachers trained to properly and professionally handle this type of behavior?  

All preschool programs experience some type of aggressive behavior by their young students. Specific acts of aggressive behavior may include biting, impulsive hitting, throwing hard objects, shoving, scratching, kicking, pinching, and exhibiting meltdowns and fits of rage, including screaming, stomping, and showing a lack of bodily control, especially when paired with anger.  

During a child's preschool years, emotional development is at a critical stage. During this period young children may either reduce or crystalize their aggressive behavior. Social and emotional competence can be enhanced during these early years. When parents and teachers work together and are knowledgeable of specific strategies to implement with children, they can learn how to deal appropriately with children's aggressive and inappropriate social and emotional behaviors.  

Preschool programs should consider adopting aggression policies that are suitable and that guide teachers and parents to facilitate a positive change in the child's behavior. This should be a team effort, with training for staff and parents as a key component. The preschool staff should pray for the children and their families and work on the spiritual development of the children. The children should practice obedience in the classroom, and the parents should teach it and expect it at home.

Another part of the policy should include training for the teachers and staff on how to handle an aggressive child. When is it appropriate to touch the child? How should a teacher safely remove a child from a potential threat? When is a child's dismissal from a program appropriate?  

A written policy should also include times to call for outside assistance for the classroom, procedures for when to call parents, procedures for documenting the incident, and specific procedures for how to inform the parents.  

As with all school policies, the preschool teachers and staff should sign and agree that they have read the policy and they understand it.  

Preschools should receive legal advice on the liability risks if they do not have a policy or if they fail to enforce their policy. Below is a sample of an aggression policy.  

Sample Aggression Preschool Policy  

Aggressive behavior includes actions such as slapping, hitting, or hurting another person; pushing and shoving; or using verbally aggressive language-all of which may or may not be provoked. The teacher observing this behavior will determine whether an incident report is to be completed. Since preschool personnel want to partner with parents to provide a safe environment for the students, ABC preschool has established the following policy for aggressive behavior:  

  1. Each incident is to be documented with a description of the situation that led to the event.
  2. A parent is required to sign the incident report that will be filed in the child's portfolio. The teacher will notify the parent to discuss the problem either on the phone or in person.  
  3. After three aggressive incidents by a child, considered by the teacher to be unprovoked, the parent will be called to the school to perform disciplinary action. The parent is expected to have a discipline plan before arrival.  
  4.  After a parent has come to discipline his or her child three times in a nine-week period, the next notification will be for the parent to pick up his or her child for the remainder of the day.  
  5. If a child is picked up three times by a parent for aggressive incidents, the program will not allow the child to attend school for one week. A conference with the director is then required before a child can return to school.  
  6. A child who returns after a week of absence and performs aggressive behavior two additional times will be dismissed from school for the rest of the year, and the child must have approval of the director and a health care professional to attend the preschool the following school year.  

ABC preschool strives to provide a safe, loving, and healthy environment for all children, and parents are expected to partner with the school in this effort.  

When parents and preschool teachers work together and early intervention takes place, children who exhibit aggressive behaviors can learn to develop healthy spiritual, emotional, and social behavior. This creates a healthy school environment. Having an aggression policy that is enforced consistently can protect the children, families, and the preschool.


Sara Jo Dillard, MEd, is the ACSI Early Education field director for the Eastern states. She recently came to ACSI after volunteering for the association for 12 years and serving as preschool teacher and early education principal at Southside Christian School in Greenville, South Carolina, for 20 years. She served as past chairman of the ACSI National Early Education Commission. Sara Jo Dillard has a passion for mentoring Christian school preschool teachers and directors and, in turn, seeing them mentor others. She delights in consulting with preschool directors and teachers and supplying them with a variety of resources to help them achieve their goals as Christian early educators. For questions, contact Sara Jo Dillard at sarajo_dillard@acsi.org.  

Notice: These articles are designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. They have been provided to member schools with the understanding that ACSI is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Laws vary by jurisdiction and the specific application of laws to particular facts requires the advice of an attorney.

Notice: These articles are designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. They have been provided to member schools with the understanding that ACSI is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Laws vary by jurisdiction and the specific application of laws to particular facts requires the advice of an attorney.

LLU 22.3

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