B-A-D spells BAD and B-O-Y spells BOY

Labels are sometimes the most detrimental ways we can stunt a child from flourishing.  How easy is it when we see a child misbehaving in the mall, to turn to a friend or partner and call those children bad or to look at the parents and criticize the way they parent their children.  I have been guilty of this many times until I got to know my oldest son.

My eldest son is four years old and just completed preschool.  If I was to paint a picture of my son with words I would say he is a curious, creative, goofy, easily excitable, and loud little boy with a love for all things green, floral, robotic or on wheels.  He is a free spirit that loves to move from activity to activity on his own time and takes many moments to pause and observe EVERYTHING.  He learns when no one is looking, he climbs to highest peaks that will hold him, with very little fear, and challenges most everything.

On the flip side of this larger than life personality is the challenges that come with parenting him.   He is easily frustrated, he has big anger, love, hate, sadness and he has no issue with throwing temper tantrums anywhere.  One of the biggest challenges we face is trying to get and keep his attention.  Unfortunately it is this challenge that has overwhelmed his preschool teacher this year.   We recently sat through a meeting with the resource teacher and his homeroom teacher and listened to her express her frustration for spending so much time on our son all year while 26 other students suffered.  The guilt you feel as a parent realizing that your child is indeed beyond your control is immense.  We set boundaries for our son, we expect him to listen when we give him instruction, there are always consequences for his actions.  But how does a child wear out the use of his name and the class time-out spot without some blame given to the parents?  We could try to beat our son into submission, but I fear the cost to his person-hood would be too great.

Fortunately for us as his parents, we hold enough creativity to try to work with our son, unfortunately for his teacher she did not hold the creativity needed to work with him.  It breaks my heart that he has been labelled as a bad kid this year, and that he spent three quarters of most days on time outs at school.  I am not blind to my son’s challenges, nor do I blame his behaviour on his teacher.   The truth is that even with three Educational Assistants in the classroom 27 preschool students is a lot to work with and help flourish.   I merely think we all could have done better.

It’s amazing to think that our son who had so much trouble in school still managed to learn all his letters and their sounds, how to read and spell many three and four letter words, count to 20+ and backwards from 10, the words to Oh Canada, how to write his name, to almost colour in the lines, spell all the basic colours, draw pictures that are fairly recognizable, recite countless poems from memory, and how to zip up his coat.  For a bad boy he did pretty well this year, and I will not lose sight of his successes because of someone’s judgements. Onward and forward into kindergarten he goes, I will swallow my shame and exchange it for pride.

P.S Never judge a book by it’s cover.

5 responses

  1. You are a great mom Lani. Coloring within lines is over rated. The creative aggressiveness “Oldest Son” has would make him a fine soccer player.


    June 30, 2011 at 2:20 am

  2. becky

    Sounds like you’ve got a smart kid there! Keep up the good work!


    June 30, 2011 at 8:20 am

  3. VP

    Lani you are not alone here. However, in this situation because he is only 4 (or has been this past school year) I would say the main problem is the preschool program. Because I am a stay at home mom I could not justify sending my kids to preschool unless I was positive it was going to be a good experience that got them exited about learning and going to school. I looked around for one that had a very low child adult ratio and included lot’s of singing and activity and minimal “sit on the mat and learn” time because there is no way my kids at the ages of 3 and 4 could handle that. It does not bother me at all that my daughter didn’t finish preschool reading or spelling anything (granted she was in french) and still struggled to write her name. (This is not even an issue until Kindergarten) It really bothers me when someone in education thinks it best to repress characteristics in children (that make for amazing adults) just so they are more “teachable” at least to their preferred method of teaching. I wish we could shop around for our children s educators, I found an amazing preschool teacher that refuses to teach more than 15 4 year olds at a time and 12 3 yr olds and also understands them enough not to mix the 2 ages. Now I just wish I could do the same for K-6.
    A child should not be spending that much time a day in time out, it means they are not serving their purpose. Sounds like those 3 EA’s need a lot more creativity and understanding that kids do not need to pay attention to learn! You as a parent can undo the damage (and I am sure you are) of being told he is bad and that he has a problem. You see his gifts and potential and nurture them so he will turn out great no matter what happens at school.


    June 30, 2011 at 8:57 am

  4. Debi

    I agree that alot of the things that make a “good” student are not necessarily the same things that make them “good” people. My daughter didn’t go to preschool b/c of this and is going to a Montessori K. – 6 program starting in Sept.


    June 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm

  5. You’re son is obviously a very intelligent boy.

    It strikes me, that again and again, children who have issues in school are repeatedly viewed as ‘bad’ instead of professionals taking the time to find out what those issues are and how best to deal with them.

    The sheer level of children with problems shows, surely that the system needs to be changed in order to incorporate those children.

    I have had many differing experiences with teachers and health professionals which have left me shocked and astounded at the lack of support available for our family.

    As you know, my son has ADHD, he’s also now being tested for a multitude of other problems such as autism.

    For comparison, I would have described him, aged 4 as: very excitable, energetic, extremely stubborn, playing the clown, extremely impulsive – he had a sense of a danger when he saw someone else doing something unsafe but would not think first before doing something dangerous himself ie he would climb of the window to ‘see the moon better’, smart, emotional, wild, avoiding eye contact, disobedient, spotting things – his eyes were everywhere so he could always find things, affectionate, curious, extremely helpful, talked to strangers ALL the time.

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I wish you and your son well. If it helps, I have since learned that teachers often make out that your child is the worst in an effort to make you try and take responsibility, but actually they do that with other parents too. They make you feel like your child is the worst and he is the only one, but it’s not true. The next day/week they are doing the same to someone else. In my opinion, it’s a sign of a poor teacher.

    Keep in touch.


    July 1, 2011 at 5:16 am

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