By John Rosemond
NAEYC certifies preschool education programs, and their standards, as one would expect, reflect their philosophy. They will not give a program their seal of approval if it punishes children who do bad things. Why? Because children do not do bad things.
According to one of NAEYC’s publications, they simply “make mistakes in their behavior.” In other words, when a child does the wrong thing, it is not intentional. Really? I was a child once. When caught, I was rather clever when it came to appearing that “I didn’t mean it.” Adults who believed me did me no favors.
A North Carolina preschool teacher recently told me their director informed her and her colleagues that time-out is being phased from the classroom because it is a form of “shaming.” Instead, they are to re-direct the misguided child to a more positive activity. A week after being so informed, said teacher reprimanded a toddler who was beating on another child. No punishment, just a reprimand. The director scolded her for being too negative. I feel certain the director did not appreciate the irony.
Another teacher in the program came up with the idea that children who followed classroom rules would get a prize at the end of the day. A child became upset that she didn’t get the prize. The director told the teacher to apologize to the child for singling her out and to give her the prize. This child has thus been moved one step further toward incurable narcissism. This is the stuff of trying to become certified by NAEYC.
One of NAEYC’s papers (http://www.naeyc.org/files/tyc/file/Gartrell%2001.pdf) says that “punishments such as time-outs confuse young children because they cannot easily understand the sequence of behaviors during and after a conflict nor what removal to a chair has to do with them.” That sentence confuses me, so I’m fairly certain it’s an example of pure, distilled psychobabble. The same paper goes on to assert that time-outs cause children to feel ineffectual, prevent them from developing alternative strategies, lower their self-worth, and are bewildering because young children have difficulty figuring out cause-effect relationships.
Psychobabble is any assertion that cannot be verified by the scientific method. All of the preceding fits that definition.
Concerning shame, it is dysfunctional when it is either excessive or absent. But when a child misbehaves, he should feel ashamed. Young children are incapable of feeling shame on their own; therefore, they need responsible agents (i.e. adults) to help them feel it. This process is essential to proper socialization; to an appreciation of the effect one’s behavior has on others.
Concerning children, I know that back in the parenting dark ages, when children knew they were going to be punished for misbehaving, they were far more likely to behave. That is why a teacher in the 1950s had no problem teaching 50 or more first-graders without an aide (of the 1950s first grade class sizes I’ve come across, 95 is the record so far, and the woman who taught that leviathan remembered no significant discipline problems).
Today’s teachers are dealing with classroom behavior problems that would have astounded our great-grandparents. NAEYC ought to be ashamed for contributing to this problem…but they won’t be. They don’t believe in shame.
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By Laura Gray
It seems bullying dominated our national news this year. Sadly, most cases never made the front page until another child took his or her life. Savannah students are just as susceptible to this form of homegrown terrorism, but school administrators and leaders are making major strides in combating bullying of all kinds.
You probably know someone whose child has dealt with bullying. Maybe your own child has been bullied. Or, perhaps, you have bad childhood memories of your own experiences with bullies. What’s important is to be vigilant is watching out for the warning signs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has come up with a list of potential signs that your child is being bullied:
• Comes home with torn, damaged or missing pieces of clothing, books or other belongings.
• Has few, if any friends, with whom he or she spends time.
• Seems afraid of going to school, walking to and from school, riding the school bus or taking part in organized activities with peers (such as clubs).
• Takes a long, “illogical” route when walking to or from school.
• Has lost interest in school work or suddenly begins to do poorly in school.
• Appears sad, moody, teary or depressed when he or she comes home.
• Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments.
• Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams.
• Experiences a loss of appetite.
• Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem.
To find out what local experts are doing to stop bullying in our schools, read my story on page 3. The sidebar, “What to Do If Your Child is Bullied,” gives you practical, concrete steps to take.
The experts agree that the key to curbing bullying is to stop the behavior early, when kids are still in elementary or middle school. To begin a dialogue with your child, try using one of these books:
• Gator Gumbo by Candace Fleming & Sally Anne Lambert
• Shrinking Violet by Cari Best & Giselle Potter
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