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Should I back up teacher's punishment in a school setting?

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Dr. Markham,

I have read many, many articles from your website, emails, and Facebook page-everything from night weaning to hitting. Thank you! My husband and I do our best to parent peacefully even though that's not how we were raised, so it's sometimes a challenge to know what to do.

Like today, for example. When I picked my 2.5 year old up from Bible class. The teacher told me my daughter was put in a time out for climbing and throwing toys after she had already been warned. (Another time she got a time out for smacking friends.) I have witnessed these episodes on play dates. My daughter gets so excited that she doesn't know how to show her emotions. (I feel like I always have to keep a close eye on her because she will run up to a friend and smile so big. Then bonk her on the head or something. It's like she wants to play but doesn't know how to initiate it.)

My question is, as a parent, now what? What do we do when we are told by the teacher that our daughter didn't follow the rules? Of course we talked to her about safety and thinking of others and obeying. But as a former school teacher my mind is set to think that I need to do more-to show my support to the teacher in hopes this doesn't happen again. But what?

Thank you if you get a chance to respond!

A grateful reader

P. S. My daughter will go to preschool for the first time this fall two mornings a week. The only other school setting has been Bible classes. And she has a 3 month old sister so she hasn't had practice at home playing with a sibling.


I would absolutely NOT back up the teacher's punishment. Instead, I would say "It sounds like a hard day today" and let her tell you about it. Listen and empathize. "It sounds like you were so excited...It was hard for you to stop throwing toys and climbing...What did the teacher say? ...What did the teacher do?...How did you feel?....That sounds hard....I am so sorry it was so hard for you."

She will learn what is acceptable in school and she will learn to control herself. She needs a safe place to come home and offload how bad it was there, or she will come to think of herself as bad, and she will begin to act "bad" at home, too.

You can point out that at home or when you are with her, you help her calm down and control herself, but at school there are too many children, so the teachers use timeouts instead. You don't have to make the teacher wrong, but you also don't have to make your daughter wrong.

Good luck!

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