Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

The Debate: A Preschooler Problem?

At the park several months ago, my youngest approached a potential playmate and roared at the unsuspecting child in his best T-rex imitation. The child, probably scared of the little pretender, pushed my son down causing surprised tears. The boy's dad was totally apologetic and punished his son. I, on the other hand, figure that this is how kids learn. When their actions have consequences, I can use those consequences to teach.

Was either preschooler out of the realm of normal behavior? Probably not. But apparently, behavior problems among preschoolers are becoming a national issue, writes Wall Street Journal Work & Family columnist Sue Shellenbarger.

In several studies released in the past month, researchers at Yale, Rutgers and Cornell universities, among others, are treating preschoolers' conduct as a challenge that calls for changes in school programs and classroom management. The problem has reached the point where researchers are recommending preschool teachers have access to mental-health consultants, like the psychologists who help out in higher grades.... Some experts say they are increasingly seeing behavior that is out of synch with expected development, such as kindergartners who engage in frequent fighting, aggression, tantrums or a persistent inability to cooperate with others.

Shellenbarger goes on to say that 6.7 kids out of 1,000 are expelled from preschool each year, that's three times the rate of expulsions in public schools.

Watch any group of preschoolers -- I've seen several over the past four years -- and you'll see kids playing, tugging on toys, learning to share, chasing each other. It's not uncommon to see and hear of young ones biting, hitting and pushing. But during that time, I can think of only a few kids from whom I wanted to shield my children. Both of the problem kids were biters; one lagged behind his twin in speech, and the other couldn't stand other children becoming friends with his twin.

Is this a case of adults expecting too much of preschoolers? Or are we growing an overly aggressive, anti-social generation of kids? What kind of "problem" behavior do you see kids exhibiting in day care, preschool and kindergarten?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  January 18, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Preschoolers
Previous: Do You Kumon? | Next: Dissing Hannah?

Comments


Psychology has become a huge industry and like all other industries seeks to grow its business.

Since its largely tapped out its adult and teen market, it now seeks expansion into the uncharted preschool market. So expect pop psychologists to now find "problems" with your kids, that years ago would have been solved with a simple spanking (which, of course, they recommend against, because when you solve your own problems it hurts their bottom line). Psychologists also seek to break up families in family court because they seek to replace parents on some level.

My cousins, brothers and I engaged in all manner of inappropriate preschool behavior, including biting, fighting, pulling lids off working blenders, going wild in church, and telling Santa to shut the **** up (I cop to this last one!).

All of the above mentioned relatives are either doctors, PhD.s, Ivy League grads or all of the above. One is considered the top religious scholar in his field. I should add that when we were tots we were all in lower class urban situations, yet still managed to prosper.

We learned because our moms and dads scolded us as they deemed appropriate. It worked. Todays parents should do the same.

Posted by: Tony S | January 18, 2008 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Your child walks up to a complete stranger and roars in his face, terrifying him - and you do nothing?

Yes, Ms. Garfinkle, there's a problem in this situation. It's not the other kid, who did react inappropriately, but was suitably reprimanded. It's not the other kid's dad, who is clearly doing his best to educate and civilize his child. It's you.

Preschoolers are not too young to use decent manners. They are not too young to say "Hi, want to play?" They are not too young to understand that it's mean to scare people.

I'm sick of taking my well-behaved children to playgrounds only to see them pushed around and yelled at by kids whose parents can't be bothered to teach them a few rules of decent human behavior. *Your* child is the one I shield my kids from, not the one whose parent responds to his misbehavior. You're not doing anyone, least of all your son, any favors by not expecting more of him.

Posted by: Anne | January 18, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Anne - thanks, that's what I wanted to say.

Posted by: jj | January 18, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Both children were in the realm of normal behavior. The difference seems to be the other parent responded to the situation, whereas you did not since it was just "kids being kids". Unless there is more to the story that you left out.

You say you use these situations to teach, can you explain what you did and what you taught your child after this incident?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I don't see any abnormal child behavior in your scenario. Kids that age don't know societal "rules," and you are very likely right in that it will be the last time your son roars in someone's face without at least a "hi" first. Good lesson! -- And to Anne, good luck shielding your children from all things that may cause a reaction in them, since life so rarely throws us a curve ball.

Posted by: Tina | January 18, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

While I agree that most preschoolers are not a problem, I do feel that society as a whole is becoming more violent and sexual and that it might be permeating down to the tykes. I know of a 2 year old who's favorite show is Cops. Another mom lets her toddler watch Harry Potter because he's not scared (but it's PG-13). While we can't expect kids to behave like adults, we also should allow them to be kids and not expose them to content above their maturity level. Kids cannot process information at the same level as adults and in turn might start becoming more aggressive.

Posted by: md | January 18, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Roaring?!!!!! Are you serious? You think this is a behavioral issue? A kid pushing another kid? You think this is a behavioral issue? Yes it could be teaching moment to explain that we don't push other kids or we don't get in another's face and ROAR. Until there is blood or a black-eye let the kids work it out.

I doubt he will not roar again, so better have a stool and a whip ready for the next time cuz your lion needs taming. And yes, I'm dripping sarcasm about the taming in case you didn't get that.

Posted by: cj | January 18, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

It's certainly not abnormal for a kid to roar or another kid to push- that kind of thing happens all the time. But I'm pretty appalled that you don't seem to have done anything about your kid's bad behavior. At the very least, you should have forced him to walk up the other kid and apologize.

Posted by: PIT | January 18, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I agree with md - I think it's the TV and movies and internet that children are exposed to. Many parents with young children have the TV on all the time and don't think the children are paying attention. But children are sponges - they are paying attention to your TV shows from infancy, and are absorbing the violence and bad behavior - AND don't say you did it as a child b/c there was so much less on and so much less violence. Now, it seems that parents feel children SHOULD enjoy TV, start them off with Seseme Street and Barney, and then at about age 3 or 4 just let them watch whatever they want. (or don't realize that if the TV is on, the child knows what on it even if he's not facing it and sitting like a zombie.

Posted by: FLmom | January 18, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Well, I don't see what is so wrong about a preschooler roaring at another preschooler that it would require punishment. I would have called my child aside immediately and pointed out that he scared the other child, and suggested a better way to approach the child (including a apology for scaring the child), but I wouldn't have punished the child.

If in the other child's situation, punishment isn't the word I would use, but I suspect the action I would take is the same. In the given situation, I would reprimand the child, and perhaps make him sit out for a few minutes, and suggest an apology. I say perhaps because a clearly provoked situation such as this, in a *young* child who wasn't prone to hitting, a warning might be appropriate for a first time offense. You can accomplish the same objective (keeping the child from playing for a few minutes) by talking about the incident in repeated simple terms "Joey is crying because you hit him. It would hurt you if someone hit you, and it hurts others when you hurt them." And then you have your child think of something he can do to help the other child feel better. An apology is okay, but a helpful action is better. The idea is to make the child feel sorry, not just say sorry. If the child had been warned previously, sitting out would automatically follow.

But the main thing in either case is that each child needs to learn to see the other child's perspective. As a preschool teacher, I routinely ask children to think about how their actions affected the other child. "It wasn't okay for Johnny to hit you, but he did it because you scared him." As a parent, I skip the part about is wasn't okay for Johnny to hit (in front of the other parent, that is), but the rest is the same.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree with others that none of this seems like abnormal behavior. What surprises me is that Stacey seems to be clueless about her child's role in this "conflict".

Posted by: jen | January 18, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

OK. We first overanalyzed our teenagers, then we overanalyzed our middle school children. Next we overanalyzed (and subsequently over-medicated) our elementary school kids. So now we are working on our pre-schoolers. What's next, in utero analysis? Wait, does your fetus kick too much? Must be a behavioral problem. Let's intervene! Geez.

I think our country's need to highly educate every child has led to an overabundance of PhDs, leading to an overabundance of ridiculous studies like this.

Posted by: joe | January 18, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Couple of things. #1 - I agree that you should have talked to your son about roaring in people's faces! #2 - I also agree that a lot of this aggression is coming from children being exposed to inappropriate media.

I also think that a great deal of the poor behavior we see in young children comes from inadequate rest. I think there are a lot of tired kids out there staying up late to go to big brother's basketball practice and then up early to school or day care. I think rest is one of the most important behavioral tools for all people.

Finally, while it is normal to expect that the children do not know all of the societal rules, I do believe that children live up or down to expectations. When my son was 2 we put him in a traditional preschool setting and there were several incidents of biting and hitting, all of which we thought was normal. When we visited the Montessori school they indicated that those types of things just don't happen there frequently enough to be discussed. We thought they were crazy, but lo and behold it was right. The kids are expected to respect and be kind to each other. The older children in the class help to enforce the expected behavior as well. If you expect they will behave a certain way, they will, plain and simple.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | January 18, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I'll have to agree with Anne and Jen. A total stranger of any age walking up to another stranger of any age and roaring is a bit unsettling. The other kid responded in a normal way because of the violent and unexpected greeting. It's the same as a strange dog approaching you, growling with teeth bared.

Stacey, can't you teach your kids any manners? Kids imitate what they see at home. Your house must be a horrific.

Posted by: TGIF | January 18, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Why do people feel the need to blame television for all bad behavior? Kids have been pushing and pulling each other since before the invention of the cave painting. Yes, your child's behavior is completely "normal". But it is not "OK". And it's not OK for you to let him get away without any accountability for his actions.

Posted by: PIT | January 18, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I must be a horrible parent too because a couple of years ago my then-2 year old, while at the playground, decided that he was a tiger and ran around roaring at the other kids. Most of the other kids were laughing or roaring back, but when he got too close to one kid and roared right in his face, the kid was startled and whacked him in the eye. A better lesson about "personal space" I could never have taught!

Posted by: acorn | January 18, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

When my daughter was about 2 1/2, a boy (only slightly older) at her daycare hit her on the head with a lego hard enough to leave a bruise. The father of that child and I arrived at the same time that evening to pick up and were told of the incident simultaneously. The father was pretty mortified and immediately chastised his son, "You don't hit girls... except in self-defense." I actually thought the situation was a little funny. I'm glad the father didn't let it pass unmentioned but I also think it's normal behavior. On another couple of occasions, another boy bit my daughter. Again, mother mortified, apologetic, working to correct child's behavior. Again, I didn't think I needed to make a big deal out of it when the parent seemed to be reacting appropriately.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | January 18, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Anne, TGIF and others....

We need to get a grip here. Suddenly Stacie has a "horrifc" household and a "problem" child because her son roared at another kid on the playground. This is not a 20 year old walking up to another adult at the mall with no warning and yelling in his face. This is a pre-schooler on a playground...playing!! Imagine that, playing on a playground. It would have been different if he walked up and hit the other boy. But kids on playgrounds, particularly pre-schoolers are in the middle of playing, having fun and being imaginative. They walk up to other kids all the time to see if they want to play, run around and yes...roar like a dinosaur. I have a 3yo and a 1.5yo so I spend a lot of time at playgrounds. Kids doing funny, silly things is what they should be doing.

Maybe Stacie can remind her son that he should try and use his words first and see if the other child would like to play dinosaur before roaring, but I am quite certain there is no pre-schooler in the world that remembers his manners all the time. Let's remember that these are young children and not young adults and let them act that way.

Posted by: HappyDad | January 18, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

moxiemom1--sensible as always!

I, too, know of too many kids who don't get adequate sleep. People seem to be in denial about how much sleep kids (and adults!) need. Some people even brag about how little sleep they need.

I agree that Stacey dropped the ball on this one. Her preschool-aged son appears to have needed some discipline in the sense of teaching. I don't buy the "boys will be boys" attitude implied when she says that both boys were acting in the realm of normal behavior. Roaring in another kid's face is nothing but aggression. It's certainly not unheard of--kids this age can be pretty uncivilized on occasion, but to say that it's normal implies that it should be accepted. The other child's dad was right to have him apologize for pushing, but Stacey and her son should have apologized for his provoking the other child.

Posted by: Marian | January 18, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

HappyDad - some of the comments toward Stacey may seem a little harsh, but I don't think she should get a free pass here either. My four year old nephew tends to be pretty boisterous most of the time. My sister's reaction has always been - oh, isn't he so cute when he pretends to be a *whatever*? I always say, sure he's cute, but you need to get him to tone it down a little bit. After all, that cute behavior isn't so cute anymore when that kid is at school and Mommy isn't there shielding him.

Posted by: cara | January 18, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

To put you all at ease, my son and I did talk about how roaring at strangers can scare them. That was the "teachable" moment I was referring to. Apologies that I didn't write that as clearly as I could have. But no, I didn't put him in time out or punish him for pretending. That's simply his personality.

I'd love to hear more thoughts about the larger question at hand today.

Posted by: Stacey Garfinkle | January 18, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

A preshooler should not be held accountable for his actions - he does need to be socialized though. Roaring at another child is not something that he needs to be held accountable for, however, he does need to be guided! Hopefully he was gently told that the other child did not like this.

Posted by: ps | January 18, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

But of course we know the children of Washington Post writers are all ABSOLUTELY PERFECT -- the uncontrollable, ADHD, spoiled little wretches. Stacey is raising a jewel. It's every other kid that has a problem and needs therapy, evaluation, analysis, whatever. But remember Stacey's kid has that gunk in his ears, has chronic nose=picking and masturbating habits, and roars at total strangers. God forbid I should be around when he's grown up and holding down a job. HR would have a field day with this one.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

You asked about daycares, preschools and expulsions. I am actually surprised that the expulsion rate isn't much higher than 3x the public school rate. Unlike public schools, private schools are not required to continue to serve children who may be a threat to others. In addition, most early learning environments are largely funded through private or non-public sources.

Many daycares are, unfortunately, not adequately staffed. The child:teacher ratios can be high and the teachers may not be well trained. These environments are not conducive and do not have adequate resources to correct antisocial behaviors, even if these behaviors are perfectly normal (such as biting).

On the other hand, I pulled one of my children out of a daycare situation because he had been bitten eight times by the same child (these were nasty bites, not warning nips, and one drew blood). The center said they were working with the parents to resolve the behavior and that it was perfectly normal in a preverbal child.

I believe that removing the offender, rather than the child who was well behaved, would have been a far fairer solution. Although, I suppose we would then be accused of "overanalyzing" the young biter.

Posted by: momof3 | January 18, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

jen

" What surprises me is that Stacey seems to be clueless about her child's role in this "conflict".

What else is new?

Posted by: Jake | January 18, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I think the problem is largely parents becoming far less tolerant of "normal" age-appropriate kid behaviors. They raise a ruckus and terrify teachers and administrators. Like Stacey, in my ten years as a parent I have seen few (actually zero) kids I wanted to shield my children from. But I've seen a whole lot of parents who I thought were totally nuts.

Posted by: leslie4 | January 18, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The kids are expected to respect and be kind to each other.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | January 18, 2008 09:04 AM

Moxiemom, This was our criteria when we selected a pre-school and then a school. If kids haven't been taught at home how to share, how to handle conflict, what is a big deal and what you shake off, then they aren't a lot of fun to be with - either for other kids OR for adults.

Tina, I fail to see how teaching your own kids about proper social limits and how to share play equipment constitutes, "shielding". The point is not that parents should shield their children, it's that they are responsible for raising kids who can get along on a playground, in a sandbox, in life. The 4 year old kid whose parent reacts with a "boys will be boys" attitude when her child is physically aggressive oftentimes grows into the 6 year old kid on the plane behind whom no one wants to sit, then the 8 year old kid roller-skating around the grocery store and smashing into other shoppers and, finally, the 25 year old kid who has difficulty sharing an assistant with two other colleagues. Boundaries and civility can and should be taught by parents. The village can't do everything, people.

That does not mean a psychologist needs to be involved. It does mean that parents shouldn't expect schools to chalk up hitting someone on the playground every day during recess and constant temper tantrums as the norm just because those parents are dismissive of anti-social behavior.

Posted by: MN | January 18, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"But I've seen a whole lot of parents who I thought were totally nuts."

This reminded me of something that happened at a playground this past summer. My 5-yr-old daughter was jumping on these play giant mushrooms, where you jump from one to another to another. Anyway, there was a little boy, somewhere between 12-18 months, who was leaning on one of the mushrooms. My daughter started to push the little boy away so she wouldn't step on him. She was pushing but not in any kind of rough way. She was actually pretty gentle. Well, the father of this boy freaks out and YELLS at her, "Don't you touch my kid!!!" Maybe, and I do say maybe, she needed a little correction and I wouldn't have even cared if this man had told her directly not to jump on the mushroom his kid was playing at. But I thought his YELLING at a 5-yr-old was a bit over the top under the circumstances.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | January 18, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

another thing to think about - back in the day, parents would take their kids to the playground, park, whatever and let them play. Kids did a surprisingly good job of policing themselves, and parents rarely had to get involved. The hovering behavior many parents exhibit today tends to worsen things, not make them better.

Posted by: cara | January 18, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I think preschool kids today are generally no different than preschool kids were 20 or 30 years ago. What is different is the expectation of the helicopter parents-in-training that their special and brilliant child be shielded from any discomfort. I have two preschoolers and a toddler. My kids are pretty quiet and reserved and I get a lot of comments about how peaceful they are and how well they listen. I've never had a report from daycare that they've had a behavioral problem. They have been the "victims" of biting and the occassional scuffle in their classes. I use these opportunities to teach my children how to stand up for themselves by using their words -- "I don't like that, please stop"; To teach them compassion - "I'm sure he did that because he was frustrated, tired, having a bad day . . . and forgot his manners "; to teach them that they need to make good choices in picking who to play with -- "If kids aren't following the rules/being mean to you, you should find someone else to play with." I do not encourage them to run to the teachers with every trangression -- only if they, after trying to work it out themselves, can't get the behavior to stop and I only approach a teacher about a problem if it is recurrent and my child wants me to help intervene. Of course I would override all that if there was real danger and my children understand there are times when a grownup needs to be immediately informed.

I see the rough and tumble world of preschoolers as a wonderful learning lab for my kids -- they get to learn lessons by seeing other kids break the rules and face the consequences. Of course there are times when kids break rules and get away with it -- that is also a good life lesson that things aren't always fair and even if you think you won't get caught you should follow the rules. It also is a chance to reinforce our family's standards -- William's mom may allow X, but we do not.

I've seen parents campaign for the expulsion of a kid who bit or hit when it was an age appropriate behavior only to have their darling be the next rule breaker and then all of a sudden we should change the standard because their darling was under stress, having a difficult day . . . .

The carefree days of childhood are very short these days. While of course we should discipline or kids and remind them of their manners, rather than make a federal case of a kid with good imagination maybe we should be glad we live in a place in the world where the most important thing on a little boy or girls mind is whether they are a T-rex or a stegosaurus.

Posted by: Momof3littleones | January 18, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Rockville Mom, I had an incident once when I was walking down the aisle of a store (OK, it was Wal-Mart -- sorry to be politically incorrect), had a clear path in front of me. Then this girl about 9-10 barged out of a side aisle with a big beach ball in her hands and bumped right into my stomach. It knocked me back a few steps. Then her father, who was right behind her, said to my face "Why don't you watch where you're walking" and steered his kid away. I was in the right -- had a clear path in front of me. It was the kid who plowed into me. Go figure. Sure, sure, everybody's kid is perfect.

Posted by: TGIF | January 18, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

UH-OH, someone please come help me! My 4 month old fetus just kicked me and I'm in a meeting -- should we get out the stethoscope and reprimand it?

LOL - you people are just out of your minds today!! It must have been the snow dusting your brains today

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

TGIF

"Rockville Mom, I had an incident once when I was walking down the aisle of a store (OK, it was Wal-Mart -- sorry to be politically incorrect), had a clear path in front of me. Then this girl about 9-10 barged out of a side aisle with a big beach ball in her hands and bumped right into my stomach. It knocked me back a few steps. Then her father, who was right behind her, said to my face "Why don't you watch where you're walking" and steered his kid away"

Yet another reason to shop at Lord & Taylor.

Posted by: Jake | January 18, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Preschoolers are expelled at a high rate because preschools are private schools and they can't afford to keep a hitter or biter at the expense of having half a dozen of his victims withdrawn.

Posted by: Herndonmom | January 18, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Roaring at another child is not something that he needs to be held accountable for, however, he does need to be guided! Hopefully he was gently told that the other child did not like this.

Posted by: ps | January 18, 2008 09:56 AM

I agree that the first time he shouldn't be punished, but he should be reminded next time he plays that roaring randomly in someone's face is uncool. If he can't resist unsolicited roaring, then he should have to sit a few minutes and chill. I don't know how old this child is however.

I do think that another part of the problem is how completely stratified everything has become by age. In the past children played in mixed age groups and were able to learn from and receive guidance from the other children. Now, its just a room full of two year olds, they won't learn anything sorting it out themselves except that the biggest one wins.

It may sound unbelieveable, but in the Montessori schools you can have 24 2 to 6 year olds, two teachers and that class room is completely quiet. The kids are doing their work and they have the freedom to walk around the room and choose their work. There are however limits on that freedom (walk slowly and quietly, wait your turn). Montessori kids are some of the most self confident, respectful, nice kids I've ever met. I can't say enough about it both academically and socially.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 18, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Jake: Does L&T carry cat litter and grass seed?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Herndon Mom is absolutely correct. We had a bully (he actually was a swearer and would call girls in the class b**** as well as their mothers) and we basically told the director -- either he goes, or we go. He was 24 months old at the time. My issue with my local day care/preschool is that they aren't allowed to "discipline" the kids. I've told them when my kid acts up, send her to Time Out -- she goes at home, and she hates it. But other parents complain when their kids are disciplined, so they don't bother to do anything other than gently correct.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't around yesterday, so this is probably not welcome, but here goes!

This is my favorite Kumon site, as it allows people to click around and see what the levels focus upon, and gives nice examples of the work. This center isn't in Maryland.

http://www.bocakumon.com/MathTLM.htm

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

L&T only carries designer, organic pre-sterilized cat litter and grass seed.

Posted by: cara | January 18, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Those of you who are getting worked up over the roaring and calling it a behavioral problem have obviously never had a T-rex-obsessed little boy. Roaring is a totally normal way to play with their friends, so why wouldn't they assume it was a totally normal way to make a friend?

That said, since it upset the other boy, he should have apologized. But to call it a behavior problem is going a little far. Lighten up.

Posted by: Swoosh | January 18, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

another thing to think about - back in the day, parents would take their kids to the playground, park, whatever and let them play. Kids did a surprisingly good job of policing themselves, and parents rarely had to get involved. The hovering behavior many parents exhibit today tends to worsen things, not make them better.

Posted by: cara | January 18, 2008 10:25 AM

Actually, this is true of dogs as well. If two dogs meet (leashed), if they both seem to be reasonably friendly dogs, the best thing that the handlers can do is let them move away from their handler. If you start getting closer, they stop feeling friendly/playful and switch to being protective.

I hate that roaring/growling thing--and one of my kids is old enough to know better, knows there will be a punishment to follow for it, but does it anyway (sometimes). Just often enough to be upsetting and embarrassing.

Make no mistake, it is aggressive behaviour, and they need to be told when it's not cool.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think what Stacey describes is a great teachable moment -- and preschoolers provide many of them! Kids this age don't think like anything like adults so it's hard for parents to prepare them for every eventuality -- experience is what they learn from best. Incidentally I'm not the Anne who posted earlier today.

Posted by: anne.saunders | January 18, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

There is a 2.5 year old in my daughter's preschool who is a lion. He doesn't want to be called by his regular name, but he loves for us to call him "Lion". And he spends an inordinate amount of time roaring. He has been rewarded for indiscriminate roaring by having other children shriek in his face (with fright), getting shoved, being kicked, having the object of his roar burst into tears, etc. He now understands that some people like roaring and some don't, but he's not a little boy, he's a LION, people, so he doesn't always think to go up to someone and introduce himself like a little adult. I figure it's a natural enough stage, and this too shall pass. Even though my daughter now runs around my house roaring at all hours.

Posted by: anny | January 18, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

To the person that talked about daycare not being allowed to discipline - if I had a daycare center/preschool, at the admissions interview I would tell every parent that their child would be disciplined - time outs, whatever - and if they didn't like it, they could find another place.

Posted by: cara | January 18, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The sometimes rough and tumble world of preschool is a good place to learn how to both be kind to others and to stick up for yourself. We spent two years at a pricey preschool helping our son do just that. And the majority of the kids were completely normal kids learning to do the same thing. None of them were perfect, obviously, but the squabbles and issues were manageable and pretty standard. But, there were two little boys who were seriously disturbed and should have been removed for disrupting the environment. They were very mean, physically aggressive to the point of injuring other kids, and said very inappropriate things to the other kids (violent threats, cruel comments). This behavior continued for two years, with each of them being suspended briefly on occasion. The school tried to work with both kids for way too long. I do not think it was a coincidence that both of them watched incredibly violent and age-inappropriate movies. They also both had troubled home lives and their parents were part of the problem. In that situation, I think preschools absolutely should remove the child from the school, because the child is taking up a very disproportionate amount of teacher time and is making other kids scared to come to school. Our son was so happy to get to kindergarten, where he happily declared at the end of the first week that his new class had no "bad listeners" like the preschool had.

Posted by: Chicago Mom | January 18, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

anny - how long has this kid been acting like a lion? a month or two is reasonable, a year is a little too much. Another one of the "oh isn't he cute" things that sounds like its getting out of hand...

Posted by: cara | January 18, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

wow, doesn't cara have all the answers

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

yeah, well at least I put a name on my posts

Posted by: cara | January 18, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I think this is a great idea. My 4 year old started a new school but had behavioral problems right out of the box. We couldn't understand any place he was coming from or why he was throwing tantrums at school. The school counselor asked to meet with us and suggested we take my son to see a therapist.

I was LIVID.

We went three times and we pretty much have everything under control. Did I know how to parent? sure. Did I read the books and ask the grandparents? Sure. Did the therapist give us the ideas that worked miracles? YES!

Is my son "on medication?" Hell no. I give him vitamins and fish oil capsules every day and they seem to keep him more even on the days after he refuses to eat vegetables and the like.

Does he still try to cause problems? Yes, but I know now what fans his flames and I stop doing that in favor of diffusing techniques.

People who need help need help. We needed help and had no idea and we got it and we don't need to see anyone again right now.

My son's teacher needed help too. He wasn't perfect, but we kept up with him every day about all the issues and how he punished kids and it's all much better.

Posted by: DCer | January 18, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

He's been acting like a lion for about 2 weeks. My understanding is that over Christmas break he went to the zoo with his grandfather and spent about 2 hours camped out near the lion enclosure, observing their every move (like my kid and polar bears). According to his mother (who is trying to nip his whole lion obsession in the bud), he goes home from pre-school, puts on an old wig she had left over from a halloween costume (as his mane) and roars around the house. He asks for things like "can I eat my meat with my mouth because that's how lions eat". He begs his parents to get lion-oriented DVDs or search for computer clips on you tube. I have seen him in the same yellow sweater each time I've been to the preschool this week (3 different days). He doesn't like "fake" lions like Simba, or stuffed lions. Only the real deal. On the flip side, his mom says he will do anything she says if she says that lions do it. "Lions love to shampoo their hair", etc.

Posted by: anny | January 18, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

yeah, well at least I put a name on my posts
---

Cara, an apology for some of your posts is probably required, ok? "If I had a daycare..." Well you don't so your opinion on the matter is worth what exactly?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

He's been acting like a lion for about 2 weeks.
----

I've seen similar behavior (robots, superheroes, monsters, dinosaurs, soldiers, firemen, policemen, ballerinas, witches) repeated my entire life! That's how kids learn. If the kid is 7 or 8, it's an issue, under 5? He's like every kid I know.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"Montessori kids are some of the most self confident, respectful, nice kids I've ever met."

Interesting. In my town, Montessori parents are some of the most rude, unaware of those around them, conceited, exclusive, demanding people I've ever met. It's a good thing their children are spending their entire days with Montessori teachers so they learn to be respectful and nice, because they certainly aren't going to learn it from their parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

i think cara's imaginary daycare uses the Montessori model

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Wow, anonymous, you really have it in for me, don't you. If you could tell me specifically who to apologize for for my post about daycares, I'll be sure to say I'm sorry.

I'm sure that everyone on this chat only talks about what they are experts about. And since I am just a normal non-expert on just about everything, I'll leave you guys to your little perfect world and find somewhere else that I'm welcome.

Posted by: cara | January 18, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Many daycares are, unfortunately, not adequately staffed. The child:teacher ratios can be high and the teachers may not be well trained. These environments are not conducive and do not have adequate resources to correct antisocial behaviors, even if these behaviors are perfectly normal (such as biting).

-----

The NAEYC certifies daycares every year as do some cities and counties. The student/teacher ratios are prescribed by law and I've never ever heard of one violating that law, as opposed to grade schools where it's loser.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Anny, that Lion kid sounds like an nut case and his parents are encouraging it. No wonder the world is going into the toilet.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

looser! heh

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Looser than what?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Cara sounds quite savvy to me. You don't need to have a daycare to know some of them really suck. Just like you don't need to take a .38 in the butt to know it's going to hurt. But, Cara, don't go over to that OB catfight. They'll shout down anybody on any subject. Total *itches and proud of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Stacey,

You ask about the larger issue, but since it bears little relation to the anecdote you shared, it has gone largely uncommented on.

I work in a preschool and we do have children who need mental health services. When there is domestic violence, a parent is in jail on drug charges, one parent is in and out of the home frequently, you move around frequently due to homelessness, or any of a host of other situations I see, yes, we need to address the child's mental health. And any of these issues can lead to a child having difficulty controlling his/her behavior. In these situations, it may be difficult for the parent to teach the child anger management, even if the parent has anger management skills themselves, which they don't always (which explains a lot of the homelessness/lack of a job/unstable marriages, etc.).

But it is one thing for a child to need general guidance, which all children do, and another thing for a child to need mental health services due to family situation or because the child him/herself may have mental health issues, which is not universal, but none the less necessary in the cases in which it is needed.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

About the daycare discipline thing - I disagree about the daycare not disciplining for fear of losing business. First, the wait lists on good daycare centers are years long - there is no shortage of business. Second, they know they will lose 'good' kids if they don't use appropriate discipline. At our daycare, the staff will put kids in time out, send kids to the office, and take away priviledges. I'd say, if your daycare doesn't discipline beyond a verbal warning, find a new daycare!

Posted by: prarie dog | January 18, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

hello, hello HELLO!!!!!! Any parents out here who don't feel compelled to judge everyone else?

If so, please post because the rest of the posters have their heads up their ___ today.

New subject PUH-LEAZE!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"Jake: Does L&T carry cat litter and grass seed?"

They keep it in the backroom...

Posted by: Jake | January 18, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. In my town, Montessori parents are some of the most rude, unaware of those around them, conceited, exclusive, demanding people I've ever met. It's a good thing their children are spending their entire days with Montessori teachers so they learn to be respectful and nice, because they certainly aren't going to learn it from their parents.


Posted by: | January 18, 2008 11:44 AM

based on your many posts, if your theory holds true, YOU must be the product of a Montessori education.

I'm sorry that you are so unhappy with your self and your life that you have to try to provoke strangers having a discussion. It must be lonley where you are.

Posted by: Moxiemom | January 18, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I think that maybe the expectatations for the pre-schoolers have been ratcheted upwards. Biting is unattractive and painful, and needs to be addressed. But a 2.5 yo who's a lion for a few weeks, maybe a few months, isn't a problem.

However, someone may want to mention to the littlest lion that wild lions DO swat the cubs when they don't follow the pride rules. And that roaring & pouncing are NOT part of THIS pride's activities!

But I bet no one would blink twice if the kid were pretending to be, oh, I don't know, a guinea pig.

But definitely this sort of play is normal and healthy. Just needs to be a little more focused--like, outside!

Posted by: maryland_mother | January 18, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

That's right. Let's get the psych squad involved in normal childhood development. Kids play. They push, hit, cry. But some adults think that is so out of the norm they want to psycho-analyze the heck out of a normal situation.
The high expulsion rate is more teachers who are inexperienced and ill-equipped to handle pre-schoolers rather than little kids with some serious mental defect.
Parents have to teach kids self control; that's their job. And teachers need to have control over their classrooms;that is THEIR job.
The pysch squad has no business meddling with our children's minds.
Diet, sleep, family dynamics and old fashioned new environment anxiety can account for a lot of pre-schooler behavior issues.
But teachers want to dope 'em up to quiet them down. Geez.


Posted by: Cathie | January 18, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I call BS on the expulsion rate. My son and his friends were picked on by a 2 year old whose aggression was far outside anyone else's. We wrote letters to complain at least 3 separate times and formerly requested my son switch classes before the administrator met with the parents. The administrator had already given them two warnings. The parents complained to us their son was getting picked on because... he had been expelled from TWO OTHER DAYCARES ALREADY!

They got their kid some kind of help and while he's still the most aggressive kid I've ever seen, the issue was the parents refused to get him some help and my son and his friends were suffering at the hands of a bully. and I don't say that lightly.

Those of you who can't imagine your kid coming home with bite mark bruises 4 days in a row don't know what the rest of us are talking about.

The expulsion rate should be higher for kids whose parents don't want to address clear and present problems. after age 2, biting more than once in a while is not acceptable.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

My many posts? The ONE post I've made today?

I'm completely happy with myself and my life, and I'm not trying to provoke you. I just thought it was interesting what you said because of what I have witnessed in MY town (which I believe I said - YMMV).

It's sort of ironic when you hear a parent talk about how great Montessori is because the children are so kind and respectful of each other, and then the minute the parent walks out the door of the school they do something that is unkind or disrespectful towards another adult.

Posted by: to moxiemom | January 18, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I just want to say that I would be proud to have the little lion boy as my son. A good imagination is something to be encouraged. He will grow out of his lion identity and be a sensible young man all too soon! Why hurry it--you may help foster a love of biology, or something that will lead to a rewarding career.

And, momof3, we had the exact same experience at daycare with our daughter! What is up with that? I never could understand why the daycare center was so willing to go to any lengths to counsel the biter, "work with" his parents, and continue to tolerate his biting, while the victim is left to either suck it up or leave. And we all know how hard it is to leave when daycare is so hard to find.

Posted by: Annapolis | January 18, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

My many posts? The ONE post I've made today?

I'm completely happy with myself and my life, and I'm not trying to provoke you. I just thought it was interesting what you said because of what I have witnessed in MY town (which I believe I said - YMMV).

It's sort of ironic when you hear a parent talk about how great Montessori is because the children are so kind and respectful of each other, and then the minute the parent walks out the door of the school they do something that is unkind or disrespectful towards another adult.


I'm not sure how one would know if you had made one or several comment since you don't feel compelled to sign your name. As far as the rest of your post is concerned I will only say that it seems that here the name calling was instigated by you. Irony or hypocrisy doesn't matter. I would point out that you know what they say about people in glass houses!

Posted by: Moxiemom | January 18, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Momof 3, Annapolis and others,

Now it's time to hear from the parent of a biter. My son has bitten other children eitht times in six months at daycare. I know how unplesant that is for the victims' parents because twice the victim was his twin brother. The real problem is that he's almost four years old. Teachers and parents agreed that this behavior is normal for a two year-old, but we all worry when an older preschooler does it.

We've tried different approaches , but the one that finally worked (no bites in two months) was requesting a closer eye from the teachers and removing his brother from that classroom to another one. (He loves his twin brother more than air). I just wanted to say that his twin brother has never bitten another child at daycare or at home, and we did not have this problem with older brother. So the cause is not always weak parenting: in the biter's case his nature is to be impulsive and, about once a month, lash out with a bite on a child who has stolen his toy. Now, if he does continue this (rare) behavior well into his fourth year, mom and I will have to take more drastic steps. Also, if the day care director expels him after two or three more biting incidents, I would not blame her at all. I might, however, bite her ;)

Posted by: Michaels | January 18, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Wow, all of the biting and scratching and roaring going on in this blog. Just wait till all the expelled preschoolers learn to type, watch out Stacey!
Some kids roar, some kids get scared easily and freak out, some kids bite when they shouldn't. I wouldn't worry unless there's a pattern of bullying behavior. The problem is with those parents who are so insecure and defensive that they are unable to recognize wierd behavior in their kids. Doing so would require processing the painful and unpleasant emotion of shame, not something everyone is capable of doing. People will screw up their kids, drive their family and friends up the wall, act out in all kinds of crazy ways to avoid feeling shame. I'd say that teaching kids how to cope with that feeling, comfort themselves, and turn it into something useful is probably one of the best things a parent can do.

Posted by: rumicat | January 18, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Michaels,

I appreciate your non-defensive attitude and concern to do the right thing about your biting son. Also, I did not think or say that "weak parenting" was the problem. Clearly you care and are doing what you think is best.

In my daughter's case, I really didn't know the parents of the biter, and frankly I wasn't really interested in the explanations the daycare center was giving us, explaining what "processes" the biter's parents were going through to address the problem.

What mattered was that the biting was continuing and the biter remained welcome at the daycare center, with lots of excuses being made for him and no improvement that we could see. It's nice to know if people are trying to fix things, but results are what matter.

In your case, while I appreciate that you are a parent seeing this problem from both sides, I still don't think it's fair to other kids to let your biting son stay at the daycare. (Incidentally, and beside the point, I also don't think it was fair to kick the behaving twin out of his class and let the biter remain.)

Your four year old has bitten others at a rate of more than once a month, which is not exactly confidence inspiring. If I had a child in your son's class, I'd be sitting there with my hackles raised, fearing the next bite.

You say that the key to solving your problem was extra vigilance on the teachers' part. I am glad it's worked for two months, but I don't understand why the onus is on the teachers and not on your child to face some kind of meaningful consequences for his biting. Sooner or later a teacher is going to look away, and what if that is the moment that your child decides that he feels like biting?

I'm sorry but even though your own child has been a victim of his biting brother, I don't think you really get how I feel about this. It's nothing personal, I just wanted a daycare environment for my child that was reasonably free from fear of other children.

Posted by: Annapolis | January 18, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Annapolis,

What would you suggest that Michaels do? I see your concerns, but I may be overlooking your suggestions.

Posted by: irene | January 18, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Annapolis,

Thanks for your reply. I certainly respect your right to demand a safe environment for your child.

At what age would you (or anyone else) stop accepting biting as a normal (NOT routine) behavior for a child? My twins will be four in one month. So basically the one bit until he was about 3 years 9 months.

Posted by: Michaels | January 18, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

To irene:

I think that Michaels and the daycare teachers should give the biter meaningful consequences when he bites. Depending on how many times he had bitten in the past, the consequences could start out small,then escalate if he continues to bite. Exactly what the consequences would be should depend on what will have most impact on the biter. Some kids are not be affected by a scolding, while some will cry if you look at them cross-eyed.

The teachers and/or parents could certainly scold the biter, make him apologize, discuss how the bite made the victim feel, put the biter in a time out, revoke a privilege (temporarily), send him home for the rest of the day, the options are almost endless.

Posted by: Annapolis | January 18, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Continued, to irene:

I forgot to say, if the biter does have to face consequences, but continues to bite, then the daycare center owes it to the other children to kick him out.

Posted by: Annapolis | January 18, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Michaels, I have a great deal of sympathy for your situation. There can be a certainl lonliness in being the parent of the "perp" (for lack of a better word) since there is a certain nobility in being a victim. I've always given a great deal of latitude to families when I know that the parents are making every best effort. My children certainly haven't always been the victims, they too have messed up. My son had a dear friend when he was 3 or so who would literally put his hands around my son's neck and even once hit him in the head with a rock. We didn't cut them out of our circle since I knew mom was more horrified than I was. We supervised closely and now he is a darling boy. I think all kids have good and bad phases.

That said, and clearly noting that I am in no way a professional this is what I turned up with a quick google. You can click on the link below the excerpt for the whole article. I have two friends whose kids were labeled "bad" who turned out to have a sensory integration disorder and are now doing very well with proper therapy. My instinct tells me that something bigger is going on with your son and at the very least, I'd talk to my pediatrician about it. Good luck.

"Preschoolers

Occasional or rare biting from preschoolers may occur for some of the same reasons as it does for infants and toddlers--to exert control over a situation, for attention, as a self-defense strategy, or out of extreme frustration and anger. Frequent biting after a child turns 3, however, may indicate other behavior problems, because by that time many children have the communication skills necessary to relate their needs without biting. Kranowitz (1992) speculates that biting may also be caused by sensory integration dysfunction in a small number of young children. She suggests that developmental screening for preschoolers may be useful to identify children with tactile dysfunction. (These children may respond negatively to touch sensations, becoming anxious, hostile, or aggressive. They may be under- or over-responsive to touch, or react negatively when others are close. Light touches from behind may be particularly distressing, leading, in some situations, to biting.) "

http://ceep.crc.uiuc.edu/poptopics/biting.html

Posted by: Moxiemom | January 18, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"We've tried different approaches , but the one that finally worked (no bites in two months) was requesting a closer eye from the teachers and removing his brother from that classroom to another one."

If the daycare center feels this is working, and apparently it is (knock wood), why do you feel the need to criticize their efforts? You don't know what they tried prior to this, so your good suggestions may already have been sent to the rubbish-heap for this particular child.

Anyway, I certainly hope that your kid gets it, and it's not a subtle clue to some other neurological issue. For everyone's sake though, if it does continue or pop-up, insist on much thorough testing.

Posted by: waldo | January 18, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

To Michaels,

I've always understood that this kind of behavior is "age appropriate" for kids around two to two and a half.

That's also what the daycare center told us when we were going through it.

I don't know the age at which biting is no longer considered "normal".

Some kids never bite, some bite once or twice when they are around two, and some bite more.

My then nine-year-old son was bitten by a classmate last year, one time. The biter did not have a history or reputation for this, and it hasn't happened since. Kids just lose control sometimes, I guess.

My son was fine so I wasn't outraged or anything, but I was disappointed that the parents didn't call us to apologize, since we are well-acquainted with them through the school.

Posted by: Annapolis | January 18, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

My son, at the age of 8, once bit another boy with whom he was wrestling during a practice.

I was mortified.

The coach wasn't. He said that it sometimes happens with the kids at this age when they are really, really frustrated and feel cornered. He apologized to me, because he honestly didn't realize that my kid was overfaced by the other child. He made my boy apologize (he really did feel badly) to his teammate, and got him a different partner. By the end of the season, both boys were back on par and could wrestle without feel it was one-sided.

So...none of us want our kids to bite, or be bitten. Do you think that maybe there is more going on than you realize? Is your child lagging behind developmentally in some way? Is he simply so attached to his twin that he has separation anxiety?

Anyway, good luck and I hope that gives you some heart. Time, vigilance and creativity will hopefully put an end to this.

Posted by: irene | January 18, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I think deriving anything from Stacey's T-Rex example other than "oops" is overkill.

I think Anny's lion boy is terribly cute, though perhaps should know that only trained lions are allowed in class and that means not roaring loudly in someone's face unless asked to and given treats for afterwards.

And he might not grow out of it- lots of people become attached to animal figures and believe animalistic spirits are part of who they are as adults. He'll probably grow out of behaving only like a lion all the time though.

The larger issue- I definitely believe issues can begin to appear in toddlers and young elementary kids, usually reflecting the problems at home. Anxiety disorders have roots very young.

I do NOT think medication is the answer, I do NOT think we need to start thinking every quirky behavior is a sign we need to "normalize" someone. But there are a lot of f'd up families in the world, hardly any of them with decent parent/family training skills, and getting into therapy sooner is better than later.

Posted by: Liz D | January 18, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

"only trained lions are allowed in class and that means not roaring loudly in someone's face unless asked to and given treats for afterwards."

*click!*

For some reason, my husband didn't respond to clicker-training as well as my agility dogs or the kids.

Darn.

Posted by: Erie, PA | January 18, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Michaels, all of my kids were biters. I was lucky in that they didn't bite at school, but bit, or as I put it, "tasted" their older brothers, sisters, cousins, my wife and me. The height of the incidents occurred around age 3 and gradually diminished until they were 6.

I don't think my kids bit to be mean or aggressive, I seriously think they bit as an act of affection because it was always the favorite playmate that got bit most often. Punishing them didn't work. Biting them back to show them how painful a bite was didn't work either.

I noticed that the most likely time for somebody to get bit was when the play activity included physical contact and became more and more exciting. During these times, a reminder that it's against the rule to touch someone with their teeth was the most effective method of preventing a biting incident.

I think the kids got the biting gene from me. Nibbling on my wife and clamping down gives me a great sense of satisfaction. I have to remind myself to be very gentle though, I don't want to hurt anybody. I don't think pre-schoolers are much different, they just don't have the self control to stop after they have their teeth in position to take a chomp.

Good luck with this one!

Posted by: DandyLion | January 18, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I'm pretty impressed with the complete lack of perspective in some of the day's comments. And y'all call OB harsh? Seriously, a roar and a shove on the playground, all between the preschool set, and this is somehow cause for debating which parent is the failure? Dang.

Ummm, they're kids. They're 3-4 yrs old. By definition, they are completely uncivilized and have no impulse control. Sure, you say something to your kid. But devoting more than one breath to the incident is a waste of parenting time. It's just not that big a deal. (And, yeah, I have been on both sides of it).

I'm most amused by the people who think that going around pretending to be a lion or a T Rex is some kind of bad thing by the time a kid hits 4 or 5. My 2-yr-old has just entered this phase, thanks to the Christmas TRex, and it's damn cute. By the time he's 4, if he's at all like we were, he'll probably be a robot, then by 6 a superhero, then by 10 a rock star, etc. etc. etc. Most people I know call that having a good imagination -- not a reason to call in a psychiatrist or go to parenting classes. Seriously, do people just not have enough going on in their lives that a toddler playing pretend is a Big Deal?

Posted by: laura33 | January 18, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

laura, could you please let all of us know when you will be flying and on what airline so we can avoid your kid? cute to you, not cute to EVERYBODY ELSE!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"They're completely uncivilized and have no impulse control" --- I don't think so. Kids imitate older kids and the adults in their world. If the parents are completely uncivilized and have no impulse control, then the kid will be a carbon copy. If you let them get away with it at 2 or 4, then it's harder to correct the problem at 6 or 8.

Sure, Laura, let us know when your kid is running around loose and I'll go inside and lock my door.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

For some reason, my husband didn't respond to clicker-training as well as my agility dogs or the kids.

Darn.

Erie- just gotta up the voltage!

Posted by: Liz D | January 18, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Just went to pick up my kid from school and the lion (whose given name is Cole) was crawling around on all fours and roaring. He then went up to one of the little girls in the class and nuzzled her. She rubbed his ears and said "Good lion." Then she roared. I asked her if she was a lion and she looked at me as if I were daft and said "No, I'm an elephant." I could hear the implicit "duh" in her voice. The kids are cute, though I imagine if I were around a lion all day I might get tired of it. But at drop off and pick up time, it's sweet.

Posted by: anny | January 18, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Not that I don't find Laura's remarks to be out of line, but I note she didn't touch on the BITING issue. She only dabbled in the shallow end of the parenting pool and berated people for worrying about a little kid pretending he's a lion, and some shoving.

Yes, they lack impulse control, but that doesn't mean we don't have to encourage them shoving, roaring or otherwise being out-of-line. We have to stop them while they're doing it, or shortly thereafter, explain why it's not "nice" (it hurt Lee's ears, you wouldn't like it either), and send them on their way.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It's like teaching them to say "please" and "thank you". You say it TO them, you say it FOR them, you insist THEY say it, and eventually (hopefully), it sticks! They say it all on their own, in the outside world! To other people!

But Laura didn't touch on the potentially painful and damaging thing, the biting.

Good luck with it Michaels, I do hope that with time and attention, he learns not to do it, or grows out of it.

Not for the faint-of-heart, this parenting gig?

Posted by: Erie, PA | January 18, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

laura, could you please let all of us know when you will be flying and on what airline so we can avoid your kid? cute to you, not cute to EVERYBODY ELSE!
-------

oh gawd, talk about self-centered idiocy. I know your type and you still think YOU were cute as a kid, just no one else. Glad to have you share an opinion that makes you look that stupid

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Erie, you're right, I didn't touch on the biting issue, because that's in a different category than a preschooler pretending to be a TRex on the playground. And the posts that I found so funny were the ones that made such a big deal about that. Like the ones telling Stacey that she's the problem, because her preschooler roared at another kid. What, exactly, is "out of line" about what I said? I didn't advocate letting them run wild -- I specifically said that you talk to them. But a 3-yr-old pretending to be a dinosaur is totally age-appropriate, and so while you need to respond, it's not worth getting all het up over.

So, let me be a little more clear. Yes, you keep an eye on your kids. When they do something that scares another kid, you take them aside and say something simple, like "you really scared him." When they hit another kid, you remove them from the situation while saying something like "no hitting," and try to work with them on using words. You let them run and yell at the playground, but not the grocery store. You establish reasonable rules of behavior, and consistently and calmly enforce those when they're violated. (I'm actually laughing at the "don't let me near your kid" responses I got, because at least from what I've seen, we're one of the few families who will actually get up and leave a restaurant, movie, whatever if the kids don't follow good restaurant rules).

But why build up a playground incident into a Big Deal? There's enough big stuff out there to worry about without turning every little age-appropriate blip into a crisis.

The chronic biting, I don't know an answer for. I was lucky my kids weren't biters, but my daughter was a biter's favorite target for a while (maybe 3x in 6 months). I didn't make a big deal out of it -- I snuggled her and comforted her, listened to the teachers explain what they thought was going on and what they planned to do, but ultimately I figured it was just a stage that the other kid would outgrow soon enough. And he did. Don't know what you do when it continues on.

Posted by: laura33 | January 18, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

oh gawd, talk about self-centered idiocy. I know your type and you still think YOU were cute as a kid, just no one else. Glad to have you share an opinion that makes you look that stupid
-----------------------------------
like I said, let me know when you'll be fyling with cute, cute, cute little Timmy the T-Rex so we can book another! Consider it a public service.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Hate to disappoint you, 5:23, but that wasn't me -- I actually sign my posts.

Posted by: laura33 | January 18, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

"my daughter was a biter's favorite target"

Well Laura, if she's anything like her mommy, it's probably because she is so darn sweet! Obviously, the biter has good tastes! :-)

Posted by: DandyLion | January 18, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Aww, DandyLion is sweet!

(Sometimes reading this, I think, in the words of Carolyn Hax, "Who let the sane people in?")

Posted by: Annapolis | January 18, 2008 6:05 PM | Report abuse

My daughter wore a Cinderella outfit to preschool every day for a year and insisted on being addressed as Cinderella -- and she turned out alright. Little kids are weird. Always have been. Always will be. Let's just stop getting all worked up over it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2008 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Wow....I am pretty glad I wasn't hear earlier. I do have a few things to add, though.

1st) Staff ratio at a day care center is state mandated and in most areas it is 1 adult to 4 kids for pre-schoolers. If you have ever been in a room with several rowdy pre-schoolers, that is most certainly not enough.

2) NAEYC accredidation is not yearly. Once accredited you will stay accredited for 4 years (except in rare circumstance).

3) Little kids do spontaneous, unpredictable things like roar at each other. They also have no concept of personal space. The only thing either child needed in this situation was to be given the proper words to use, such as "Please don't roar in my face" or "Would you like to play"- and that method of handling te situation is directly from NAEYC Appropriate Practice Guidelines for Children ages 2-4.

4) Most therapists are not looking to medicate or diagnose small children, but they can often offer families discipline stategies and encouragement when kids are out of control. And it usually only takes a few visits to reverse any negative behavior from children (or parents, whose lack of discipline is often the cause of said behavior issues) Sometimes a session with a neutral third party can be very enlightening for the parents of a "problem" child.

I think that is all I have to say about that...

Posted by: Momof5 | January 18, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

To the poster at: January 18, 2008 12:23 PM

Sounds like my sister and her husband. They have a kid (almost 8) who has some issues, and if you speak with my sister, she will say she knew that something was off since birth. But her husband wouldn't 'allow' the kid to get help - so he was kicked out of playgroups, she couldn't find someone to have playdates with, etc (no preschool til it was free, so that wasn't an issue). They finally got him tested (but only when it was free from the school district) and got him into some preschool, but unless the parents aren't in denial and are helping, it's only have the solution.

And when they finally bought a house they wouldn't listen to a single person who advised them that perhaps they should look at researching the school districts to see where perhaps their child would best be able to take advantage of what was available (different school districts are better at different things).

They did nothing about it - and sis' darling husband decided that they shouldn't even tell the school there was anything at all going on or that there was any testing at all done - let them figure it out themselves.

Posted by: atlmom | January 19, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

like I said, let me know when you'll be fyling with cute, cute, cute little Timmy the T-Rex so we can book another! Consider it a public service.
-----

You are so self-obsessed that you can't see beyond your own nose. I don't have any Timmy the T-Rex- you're arguing with yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 21, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Whew! Went to scanning rather than reading responses about halfway through, when people started being rather hateful to eachother. Funny how its far easier to "roar" over the internet than in real life, where acting like some of the above posters would probably deserve a smack :)

For what it's worth if my son had been in the same situation as the Stacy's I would have done exactly what she did.

I have two children who are very well behaved, due to a combination of parenting and their own hard wiring (mostly the latter). For them to actually roar at anyone would be odd, but I wouldn't freak out about it either.

Frankly, all you have to do is look at the variety of posts/opinions in here, and consider how varied all our respective toddlers must be. Kind of like the real world that I assume our children will become adults in...

Posted by: Megan | January 22, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

To add a bit of info, I spend time talking to my kids about how their actions & speech may cause other people to react or feel.

I also explain that they can only control their OWN actions/reactions so they need to behave as they wish to be treated, but not get too upset when other people are behaving badly or unreasonably.

Seems to work well for us, due to consistency and a low level of upset & hi-jinks.

Posted by: Megan | January 22, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

You touched on a topic that could be elaborated on further - twins' behavior.

I have a (fraternal) twin sister who couldn't stand having anyone be friendly to me and wouldn't tolerate my being friendly to anyone else. If I spoke to any of her friends, she would beat the crap out of me. I coudldn't win because were I not friendly to her friends, she would beat the crap out of me. She even had her friends beat the crap out of me!

She was a little bigger than me and a whole lot meaner so being her twin was not a pleasant experience. As you have probably assumed, my parents were not prepared to parent us.

This attitude on her part gets worse with time and she treated my kids the same way she treated me, which I won't tolerate. I haven't had anything to do with her in 18 years, I've let her be an only child since our parents died. It has made my life a lot more peaceful.

With the incidence of twins increasing so dramatically in recent years, we will probably see a lot more twin behavior issues. Anyone care to comment on this?

Posted by: Magz | January 22, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

My 3 year olds are twins. They are as different as night and day. One is is bigger by about 15 pounds and much more outgoing. The other is my quiet, snuggly kid. They bicker like crazy at home, but play well and are very protective of each other out side of the house. I do have to use different methods of discipline for each. Time outs work well for my loud, bossy girl, while taking away toys or priveleges works better for the other. One thing I tell all of my girls is that your sisters will be your sisters forever and you need to look out for each other.

Posted by: Momof5 | January 23, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I watched on PBS "Raising Cain" a year or so ago. What stood out in my mind is the blurb regarding how the Japanese culture (I think) would handle situations such as the one above. If I recall correctly, a few boys were "fighting". The pre-school teacher stood there and watched and let them resolve it without interfering. I'm sure she would have stepped in if necessary. Kids need to learn to solve their own problems without being rescued all the time. I've always tried to let my daughter resolve her issues with her peers. It IS hard to decide when to jump in and help. She is a confident, independent, assertive (not aggressive) 12 yo.

Posted by: FD | January 23, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

fr Tony:

>...So expect pop psychologists to now find "problems" with your kids, that years ago would have been solved with a simple spanking (which, of course, they recommend against, because when you solve your own problems it hurts their bottom line). ...

Spanking/beating solves NOTHING. It only teaches the child that might makes right. Would YOU like it if someone bigger than YOU grabbed you and spanked/beat YOU against your will? No, you wouldn't. In short, grow UP and get a clue.

Posted by: Alex | January 25, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company