How do I teach my child to cope with naughty children in her class? There is one boy in her kindergarten class who pulls her hair at playtime, tries to take her hair clips and is a general nuisance. She says he is also naughty in class and never listens to the teacher. He seems to pinpoint her as someone to annoy and chooses to sit next to her at story time and bother her. It has been going on for a while but I don't want to come across as an interfering parent. Teacher Julie McGuire replies: As this situation has been going on for some time, you should take positive action. It may begin to affect your daughter's enjoyment of kindergarten and also her learning if her focus is on the behaviour of this boy. At this age most children have not learned how to defend themselves or cope with this type of behaviour. Those with older siblings often have more experience and cope better. You could begin by giving your daughter some strategies to deal with this boy. Encourage her to be verbally assertive but not to retaliate physically as this is likely to escalate the situation and get herself into trouble. Help her practise phrases such as 'I don't like that, please don't do it again' or 'Leave me alone'. Then tell her to walk away, if possible. Also encourage her to tell a teacher if the boy continues to bother her. It may be wise not to encourage your daughter to use the word 'naughty'. It is important not to label children at a young age, as it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Kindergarten teachers often use words such as 'silly behaviour' when disciplining children. That does not negate or water down the need to be taught that if their behaviour is bothering or upsetting someone else it has to stop. Bad behaviour can be overlooked in the playground, where children are not under such close control of teachers. Your daughter's class teacher is most likely aware of this boy's behaviour in the classroom but may not have picked up on his playtime antics as she will not always be on duty. Children get different levels of discipline at home. Bad or irritating behaviour can occur for a variety of reasons and is often linked to attention seeking - for example, children who do not get enough time and attention at home because their parents are too busy or distracted with other interests. This can also lead to the lack of a good role model at home. Having difficulty in concentrating for periods of time, such as sitting on the carpet to listen to a story, could be linked to some sort of innate or food-related hyperactivity or, with young boys in particular, can be merely down to a lack of maturity. Whatever the reason for this boy's behaviour, do not be embarrassed about having a word with the teacher. Ask her to try to make sure that your daughter sits away from him so she has an uninterrupted chance to listen to stories and carry out daily activities. If things do not improve, discuss the possibility of talking to the boy's parents. Of course, it is true that in life we need to learn to get along with, or at least tolerate, all kinds of people - even the annoying ones.