I was picking Will up from preschool yesterday when I turned the corner and saw him and another boy pushing each other.
Normally this would be no big deal, but this has been an issue all week. When we ask him what he did at school, he says “(Name of kid) punched me.” Then he says he punched him back. I talked to the teachers but they haven’t seen anything like that going on. Toddlers have a tendency to lie sometimes, or at the very least stretch the truth. But when I caught him red-handed, I got ready to dole out some fatherly pearls of wisdom.
I walked over to Will and the other boy and I told Will hitting is wrong. I told him he should always try to use his words. And then I told him to apologize.
That’s when the weirdness started. Will’s teacher came over and I filled her in on what went down. But I told her not to worry because I already addressed it and Will had already apologized to the other kid. And that’s when she dropped a bombshell on me.
“Oh. Well we don’t have kids this young say ‘I’m sorry’ to each other.”
The quizzical look on my face prompted her to continue.
“The philosophy at this school is that kids this age don’t have a full understanding of what ‘I’m sorry’ means. So if we made them say it, they wouldn’t understand it and essentially they’d be lying.”
I love our preschool. It’s done wonders for Will and I’m appreciative. But that shit is just ridiculous. My son is 2 years and 10 months old. But dammit he knows the difference between right and wrong. And more important, he knows what it is to be sorry and when he should feel guilty. Like the times I catch him grabbing the cat’s fur. I don’t even have to say a word—I just give him a look—and he immediately stops and says “Sorry Dad.” Because he knows it’s wrong to do that. Just like he knows it’s wrong to hit.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Our preschool also avoids time-outs because they think they’re unproductive. I disagree. I think when used properly, time-outs are very effective. I’m also not opposed to spanking my son under extreme circumstances. Not that I would ever want any school doling out corporal punishment on my son. I’m just saying I think going soft on the kids all the time with no fear of real punishment is counter-productive.
It’s just disheartening that the wussification of our kids starts this young. Instead of a stern talking-to, time-out or a mandated apology, now we have “redirection” and positive reinforcement. I can just imagine these kids sitting around in a “Circle of Feelings” or some other such bullshit. Instead of getting all new-agey and ridiculous, just make them apologize and shake hands. And perhaps a time-out and some loss of play time would deter them from doing it again.
Kids this age know what’s what. If they hurt another kid, of course they should be made to apologize. Hell, we taught Will manners before he could even talk by teaching him sign language for “please” and “thank you.” He had no friggin clue about those concepts, but it’s a good habit to get him into. Just like apologizing when you do something wrong.
I get the distinct feeling the feel-good, everybody’s-a-special-winner mentality of today’s educational philosophy is going to rub me the wrong way for years to come.