Being responsible for the safety of other's children is a tremendous undertaking. In a Day Care setting where children come from many different families who have different ways of doing things and different tolerances there can be numerous challenges.
Because of those differences, you must establish your own expectations (rules) and tolerances for behavior. When it comes to "rough play" it is vital to stop it immediately and teach the child a more acceptable "appropriate play" or more simply "OK Play". In fact, when this occurs it may be beneficial to teach all of the children about "OK Play."
1. Show and Tell them what appropriate or "OK Play" is.
2. Have them practice it.
3. Reward them for practicing it right.
Be sure to give them a good reason for doing it the way you are describing. The number one reason is their own safety and also to make friends. Be sure to watch when children use "OK Play", label it and reinforce them with a high-five or pat on the back.
We suggest that this teaching take place daily, perhaps during your review of the rules each day at the beginning of the session.
After you have began this in your groups, prepare a note-home to all parents letting them know that this issue has come up and that it is being addressed and taught to in Day Care.
Ask for their support by discussing it at home with their children and monitoring the guidelines at home. All parents will not do this of course, but at least you have covered your bases.
Hello! There was a situation like this in my son's preschool last year and I really liked how his teachers handled it. They talked to the boy and told him that at school there are different rules for playing than at home or at the park. They said the school rules were different because there were so many children at school and they didn't want anyone to get hurt or to feel scared or sad. Every time they spoke to him to remind him about the rules at school, they would name the school (so something like "James, at Oak School we don't play fighting games" or "At Oak School we don't play chasing games"). That way, the boy didn't feel like he could NEVER play that way again, and started to understand that it was just for the few hours he was in school.
Any time he didn't change his behavior after a teacher reminded him, he'd have to sit out for a few minutes.
They also made sure to give him a good alternative when they stopped him from rough housing ("At Oak school we don't play super hero games, but why don't you see how many times you can slide down the slide before recess is over?") And they made sure to give him lots of safe outlets for his energy (jumping up and down for a minute or doing jumping jacks).
In a very short amount of time he got much better. And he felt a lot better because he stopped being held out at recess and the other kids were more likely to play with him.