DSM: Re: Hashing out philosophy


Connweb\ (walter@connweb.com)
Wed, 7 Mar 2001 22:32:06 -0500


One of the great things about Sudbury is the fact that they mix kids of all
ages. A 4-year-old has lots of role models to pick from...and I doubt it
would take long for a 4-year-old who was being stepped on by a
4-and-a-half-year-old to learn from older role models by example how you can
take care of yourself and protect your rights.

----- Original Message -----
From: CindyK
To: discuss-sudbury-model@aramis.sudval.org
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2001 9:03 PM
Subject: DSM: Hashing out philosophy

Hi all,

I have been reading Starting a Sudbury School and love it. I just read
appendix 3, Only the Hopeful by Nan Narboe. It talks about The Real and The
Nice. I think that I am one of the Real. I know that children will not
always be happy and I don't have a problem with them being bored. I also
realize that reading it and living it are two different things. I have some
questions about how to handle children when they are interacting. I will
tell you what happened today, how I handled it, how my friend handled it and
maybe someone could let me know if we are way off or at least close to on
track.

My daughter, Katie, just turned 4. She is a very easy going personality
most of the time. My friend C came over with her 4.5 year old daughter S.
S is very verbally advanced and likes the world of adults. She loves to
converse with grown ups. As soon as S walks in the door she looks at katie
and notices that she is wearing short sleeves. S says,"Katie, it's the
middle of winter, what are you doing wearing a t-shirt?!" She says it with a
condescending face. Katie didn't say anything back but I could feel how she
felt attacked. Being her mother and unable to stop myself at this point, I
answered, "I like to wear t-shirts in the winter. Everybody's different.
Maybe she just felt like wearing a t-shirt today because it's warm in the
house." That was the end of that and they went off to play. As I thought
about what happened, I realized that I had probably given Katie the
underlying message that she can't solve her own problems. Is that right? I
should have let her deal with it on her own or come to me for help when SHE
chose to. It's just sooo hard as the mother of a child who is being put
down by another.

Later on, Katie drew a picture for S. When she gave it to her, S. declared
that "That's not how you draw people!" And she proceeded to tell katie how
to draw people properly with a stomach and a belly button. Now S's mother
doesn't say that her drawings are done wrong so we don't know where she got
this from. I wanted to say that everone draws differently as again I could
just feel Katie's hurt. But this time I kept my mouth shut. But it didn't
end there. S started to loudly declare that she didn't like Katie's drawing
and she wasn't going to take it home with her. Very loudly, over and over
repeating it. Again I wanted to say something but I didn't. My friend, C
was beside herself. She didn't know what to do. She has tried to tell S
about hurting other people's feelings in the past but that only sets her to
declare loudly that she wants to hurt their feelings and that she doesn't
care. It's very hard to listen to. What do you do in a situation like
this? Just sit back and watch? C ended up saying that she liked Katie's
picture and wanted to take it home. She got up and put it in her bag and
then we moved on to something else. After they left, I contemplated
bringing it up with Katie, but again I held off, hoping she would come to me
if she wanted to talk. She did. About 20 minutes after they left we were
having a snack and she said, "S didn't like my picture." Then she said, "C
liked my picture though." I then said, "Did you like your picture, Katie?"
She answered yes. So I said that that is what counts that she likes it and
told her that everyone has different taste and like different things. Then
I couldn't help myself and I added that I liked her picture too. :) She
didn't seem too upset by it all but clearly wanted to talk about it.

I think I know how to handle Katie, it's the other child that my friend and
I can't quite figure out. It's hard for C not to think that her daughter
deliberatley tries to hurt people sometimes and it's hard for her as the
parent to watch it. She wonders what she did to get this behaviour. Does
anyone know how to handle an aggressor like this (with deep respect and
profound regard)? While she was here today, she also stomped on Katie's
foot because Katie wouldn't come and see something she wanted to show her.
Does the "victim" always have to file a complaint before action is taken
even if an adult sees it happen? Do you explain to 4 year olds that they
can file a complaint? Do you ever remind them? ie. after an incident.

I am trying to hash out the reality of this philosophy and sometimes it's
just really hard to watch. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.

~CindyK



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