DW, wrote: My step-daughter who is 37 and her son who is 4 1/2 yrs old live with my husband and i. He has received a few ”notes to home” from the pre-school to address the issues about throwing a toy at school or taking a toy from one of the other kids and when the teacher asks him about it, he obviously tells her “it’s not me.” My daughter called him a liar. LIAR is such a harsh word to be called as a adult much less a 4 yr old child. I have asked her to stop calling him that, not dismissing the issue about telling the truth to mommy or grandma or teachers, but explaining in a less nasty way why he should tell the truth, and she is upset about itI think she is mad about my input as to her parenting techniques with this issue, rather then anything else but i am beginning to question myself on anything i say. Just trying to find some common ground with others who may be in the same situations. Any help would be appreciated. Worried Grandma
My response: Dear Worried Grandma, My heart goes out to you and your daughter in this situation. In the first place, the preschool staff have a responsibility to help children with any behavior problems that come up, including a child throwing things or a child denying they just did something (even though the adults saw when it happened–or should have).
They can prevent such actions by being alert, they can give the child tools and words to help him learn to play with others, and they can be positive by saying that they won’t let him take things from others, and by not labeling him in any negative way. (Often aggressive behavior is because the child doesn’t know how to approach other children to ask them to play. It would be appropriate to also keep the child by the side of an adult to give him reassurance and self control until he’s ready to join the play.)
”Lying” may actually be because he doesn’t want to be aggressive. He should not be asked if he did something–the adult can say, I know you threw the toy, and we don’t let children get hurt here so we won’t let you throw things.
Is the preschool crowded, with not enough adults? What is the staff’s training. Does your daughter know some of the other parents, to share information? And is the child able to attend regularly–that helps with being accepted into the play.
Also, by sending notes home, it puts pressure on your daughter–she can’t control what happens at school. That must be very frustrating. However, the concern is that if an adult thinks that a child is a liar, or bad, or other negative qualities, the child begins to believe that they truly are–the adult must know because they are an adult!