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  Parenting Advice Column
  Subject: teacher embarrasses child

QUESTION:

I am confused and angry and in a situation that I do not know how to handle. My 4 year-old daughter goes to a class every Tuesday night for 1 hours. I work in the nursery while she is in her class. Her teacher has two of her own children in this class. Her son is a lot older than the ones assigned to this class. Also her step-daughter helps her with the class.

My daughter got into an argument with the teacher's son last week ... I always look in on her (she does not see me). This week she was at a table all by herself - it made me feel very sad for her. When I went to get her, I asked her what happened; she said she put a dot on the girl's paper (this happened to be the teacher's daughter), and another child told the teacher. The teacher took my daughter's chair and dragged it to a separate table.

After I put all this through my thoughts I became angry at this teacher. They are 4 years old! My daughter is not in school nor does she go to day care. She is an only child and I am a stay-at-home mom. She was very good for the six months she has been going. I get along with this teacher, and I do not want to over-react.

I am a very protective mother. She has always slept with me. My husband does not like that. But I can not help it. She was a twin and her brother died at birth. She is very loving. If someone gives her a gift, she thanks and thanks them.

I feel like calling this teacher on the phone and tell her to never put my child alone like that. How would she like it if someone treated her child like that? I think there are other ways to teach a child than to humiliate or embarrass her in front of her peers. HELP.

Cynthia


JAN'S REPLY:

Hi Cynthia,

Have you read the letter and reply in my Parenting Advice Column titled "Hitting and tantrums at preschool"? Also look at the one titled "Temper Tantrums". In both of these letters, there are some similarities with your situation.

As your daughter is an only child, she may seem to be almost grown up compared to her infancy and toddlerhood. But looking back in the years to come, you will see that four-and-a-half is very young! It is unrealistic for our society to expect a child that age to behave like an adult at all times. Otherwise there would be no need for us to have a childhood! She's still learning about life and living. Any "mistakes" she might make should be handled with compassion, understanding, and gentle instruction. It sounds as if this teacher is not able to do that.

Is it absolutely necessary for her to be in this situation? My intuition tells me that the teacher must be having some stress in her life currently and is unable to cope well at this time. If you need to be away from your daughter on Tuesday nights, is there someone more competent and compassionate she could be with? Could she stay at home with her father, or visit at a friend's or relative's home?

Sometimes we require our children to do things that we ourselves find difficult! A 1- hour class is lengthy, even for adults (most college classes are 50 minutes long.) If the class is important to her, perhaps you can find a similar but shorter class, or arrange for your daughter to stay only part of the time. If it is not important to her, little real learning will take place anyway, and "misbehavior" could become her way of expressing her legitimate need to be with you. Children are little for such a short time. Perhaps this and any other type of class needs to wait until she is more ready for independent experiences.

It can be challenging and stressful when parents disagree on important issues such as co-sleeping. Have you shown your husband my article "Ten Reasons to Sleep Next to Your Child at Night"?

I hope this is helpful. You sound like a very devoted parent.

Jan

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