How to Discipline Preschoolers in the Classroom?

Many teachers often mistake the word discipline for punishment. Though the Merriam-Webster dictionary acknowledges punishment as the definition of discipline, the word derives from the Latin word Disciplinare. The meaning of this word is to teach. So, disciplining preschoolers means guiding or managing their behavior.

But it can be tricky to maintain discipline in the classroom, especially when handling preschoolers. But there are some practical ways to manage the tantrum of toddlers and discipline them without being too harsh. In this article, we will focus on those ways so that you can manage your classroom better than ever. Let’s get started.

How to Discipline Preschoolers

Essential Strategies to Maintain Discipline in the Preschool Classroom

The following strategies may be helpful to guide the behavior of preschoolers to a better state without punishing them.

Redirecting Behavior

It is important to let the kid know that he or she isn’t doing something right when they do so. For example, if a kid is playing with his crayons instead of painting with them, you can take those crayons away. And tell them that the time for painting is out.

This way, you impose the importance of using the right thing at the right time without being too rude.

Aware of the Consequences

Make Them Aware of the Consequences

Besides knowing what to do and what not, preschoolers should also learn the consequences of doing something wrong. You must declare the consequences in the classroom and give them a verbal warning in the first instance. You can apply light consequences when they repeat the incident, such as canceling their playtime.

When you withhold their privileges for their acts, they quickly learn to correct themselves and be more disciplined in the classroom. This also increases the hunger for discipline in preschoolers. Using a timeout strategy here can be of great help in some cases.

Don’t Bargain with Preschoolers

At this age, toddlers may make a plea for something irrational. You don’t need to bargain with them as a teacher. Instead, you need to declare the classroom rules and make them understand that they should follow your instructions.

Also, make them aware that they are going to suffer consequences if they don’t comply with your instructions. If you tend to be softer in some cases, they might try to take advantage of your softness to divert your attention from their faults. So, don’t go into any negotiation with preschoolers in your classroom.

Check: How to become a good preschool teachers

Don’t Be Biased

The rules and regulations of the classroom should apply to all students, no matter what. When you are impartial, enforcing rules becomes much easier as all preschoolers will tend to abide by those rules.

But if you are biased toward some students, it will create a bad example for other students. As a result, they might refuse to obey you in the classroom. It will impact your overall credibility in the classroom and reduce discipline among preschoolers. So, always try to be impartial when handling toddlers regardless of their gender, religion, merit, or anything else.

Acknowledge Good Behavior

Besides managing the bad behavior of preschoolers, you should also acknowledge their good behavior or deeds. You can call them in front of the class and appreciate them for their good behavior. This kind of approach will inspire other toddlers to be disciplined and behave well.

Sometimes, verbal acknowledgments may not be enough. You can give a small reward to well-disciplined preschoolers to increase their interest in following all the rules and regulations. This will have a great impact on other toddlers.

Teach What to Do

Teach What to Do

Telling kids not to do something isn’t often enough. You can definitely warn them about doing something. At the same time, you need to teach them to do something positive instead. For example, saying don’t hit others isn’t enough. You can tell them to be kind to others. Or, you can teach them to show respect to their teachers.

These small guidelines will spread positivity among toddlers and tell them the right thing to do as they grow.

Give Them Time to Learn

Not all preschoolers will have the same capability of learning something new. As a teacher, you have to keep patience and allow them some time to cope with new rules. But that doesn’t mean you should let anyone be indisciplined over and over again.

Be the Role Model of Preschoolers

Instead of reinforcing something, it is way easier to teach toddlers through your activities is way easier. As they will follow everything you say and do, you should be cautious about your behavior. Always be polite in your words and actions so that they can imitate you. Don’t be harsh to anyone in front of preschoolers.

Being positive in front of them is way more effective in disciplining them in the classroom. Try that rather than applying hard and fast rules.

Read: How To Teach Safety To Preschoolers With Fun Activities

Do’s and Don’ts for Preschoolers in the Classroom

If you have no experience in handling preschoolers, you can refer to the following list to implement some basic rules for preschoolers. Check the list out.


  • Encourage everyone to sit in their respective positions.
  • Appreciate when they do something right or according to your instructions.
  • Make it glamorous to be disciplined in the classroom. You can even announce rewards or the best student of the month award based on their behavior.
  • In the case of a conflict, talk to the students individually to sort out the problem. Be the person of trust for preschoolers.


  • Don’t allow anyone to mock or bully other preschoolers in the classroom.
  • Don’t let toddlers quarrel or fight in the classroom.
  • Don’t allow any form of cheating.
  • Don’t physically hit preschoolers even if they are doing something very wrong.

Final Words

Tackling preschoolers can be one of the most challenging jobs. As their brains are still in the development process, it might be tricky to make them listen to your command. But still, you have some techniques to keep them disciplined.

Now that you know how to discipline preschoolers in the classroom, you can use all these positive approaches to make them listen to you and follow all the rules. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to