Mental Health Begins in Nursery School

When my son arrived home, he asked his two toddlers if they’d had  “a terrible, horrible, disgusting day that they didn’t want to talk about.” Through giggles, they answered they’d had each had a good day, and happily shared what they did in school and on the playground.

Watching my children parent their children continues to be rewarding and edifying as I wonder (and don’t remember) if I handled issues of sibling squabbles, extreme exhaustion, and general toddler tendencies with grace. For sure, I’ve observed, that there’s much more attention to feelings. I often hear one of the parents ask a child if he or she is “frustrated” by something, and by acknowledging this, and showing understanding, the behavior shifts and the situation eases. My 2½-year -old granddaughter knows words like “confident” and her 4½ year- old brother talks about having a “complicated” day. There’s a bit of “Tom Sawyer” reverse psychology used too get them to do things they might resist, like picking up toys or throwing something in the trash. I hear “I bet you can’t do this by yourself, “ or “I wonder if you can .. “ that usually brings about the desired result.

In my playwriting class this week, I noticed that Caitlin’s hand was bandaged. A college student, aspiring playwright and actor, who reads the stage directions for the workshop participants, she described how she got injured. While bar tending, she’d tried to remove a customer from the bar – we can only imagine this person’s behavior that required her to be escorted from the premises—the woman bit Caitlin in the hand, severed a tendon and gave her blood poisoning. As she talked, I’m thinking, “Ok, she is a drama student. This can’t be true.” However my doubt disappeared when she added that the perpetrator is a lawyer, that the bar has no intention of suing, and that her work colleagues, who witnessed the event, are staying mum to protect their own jobs. Wow. That’s a lot to take in.

We live in an ever -violent world—or perhaps we just know more about incidences that occur in schools, work places, and army bases thanks to our access to instant information. All the yoga classes in the world can’t seem to address the vast mental health issues plaguing people. Great literature creates plots and characters based on human drama. Real life provides enough to fill libraries and movie screens; often I wish it wasn’t so. Too bad the values taught in nursery school aren’t remembered.

Wearing their new Warriors jerseys. Basketball nets on order.

Wearing their new Warriors jerseys. Basketball nets on order.

Advertisements

About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
This entry was posted in commentary, Family, Grandchildren, parenting, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Mental Health Begins in Nursery School

  1. Yikes, bites, and not by toddlers! My daughter just found the perfect preschool this morning, very very timely!

    Like

    • More fun begins! The eldest is now starting to be more aware of “friends.” So when he told his grandfather, that he was his best friend, I felt there was much more below the surface– already the “best friend/not your friend, and all that stuff is beginning that I can’t protect him from. Enjoy.

      Like

    • Maybe the biting lawyer wasn’t corrected as a toddler when she bit people!

      Like

  2. zzorrow says:

    profound piece. (fabulous grandchildren. unbiased opinion. of course.)

    Like

  3. HI Lisa,
    Wonderful thoughtful post, so well written. Your grandkids are very lucky ducks! I am appalled by the incident in the bar. Even a drama student couldn’t make up something like that.

    Like

  4. I know you appreciate the power of “story”– my son is a huge fairy tale reader to his kids– sometimes I cringe at the violence in the stories.

    Like

  5. OmaOrBubby says:

    Same here. I watch and listen how our adult kids talk to their kids and I marvel. Very proactive and naming feelings. Discipline is also very effective. The stuff we read in “how to talk so kids will listen…..” By Faber and mazlisch, are being used effectively by the next generation!!! It’s so wonderful. Btw your grandsons are so cute!

    Like

  6. Yes, very effective, short time-outs that seem to work.
    Thanks.. they are cute– as are the other 2 and of course the granddaughter! A princess already with 2 brothers and 2 male cousins.

    Like

  7. Colline says:

    I tend to believe people are more violent than they were. When thinking of the lawyer who bit the woman’s hand, I tend to believe it is because in general people do not face the consequences of their behaviour. Now if the roles were reversed, I am sure the lawyer would have sued in a heartbeat.

    Like

  8. True that. And it’s even more disturbing that her employer and colleagues aren’t supporting her. Blame the victim.

    Like

  9. There seems to be a lack of integrity and character now days. Remember when one’s word was better than a contract? I don’t know why things have changed but I suspect it has something to do with a stronger focus on self and less emphasis on the whole community.

    Like

  10. I remember being in my daughter’s nursery school class when there was a fierce argument between two children. “Mrs.Leib, ……” “No Mrs. Leib, ……..”

    And Mrs Leib said, “Why don’t you two figure out how to settle this yourselves?” I was shocked. But it seemed to work just fine.

    Like

  11. It’s best to stay out of some of the arguments– as tempting as it is to jump in and knock the head off anyone causing a grandchild duress!

    Like

  12. susanissima says:

    Oh, CG, you’ve really nailed it in this post. And included in healthy ways of dealing with life, in addition to the issue of violence, is the impact of non-stop technology which, under the guise of increasing social interaction seems to be decreasing it. When was the last time you actually saw a teen (or child? or adult?) walk down the street or sit in a restaurant without being chained to a “smart” phone? This is such a lonely substitute for having a real conversation with another person, be it friend or family member. A wabi sabi chink in our techno-culture that’s becoming a massive crevasse. Thanks for starting the conversation.

    Like

  13. One of my pet peeves is seeing caregivers/parents pushing strollers wired to headsets– no interaction with the young person — no comments about birds, bulldozers, and other things that can of interest.

    Like

  14. hugmamma says:

    These days it may be simplistic to say that what children learn in pre-school needs reaffirming throughout their young lives, especially by those with whom they spend the greatest amount of time, normally parents. Unfortunately life is more complicated than that since child-rearing is shared with others in many cases, whether they be live-in nannies or child-care centers. The current social environment with all of its temptations…television, social media, drugs, alcoholism, celebrity idolatry, instant gratification…only exacerbate an already difficult job. What are parents to do? The best that they’re able under the circumstances…and pray…a whole lot of praying.

    Like

  15. Yes, that too. I think every generation feels they try their best.

    Like

  16. Denise Hisey says:

    Hi Lisa, Diana sent me over to say howdy! 🙂
    This is a great post, and reminds me what a different world we’d live in if we all learned what your grandkids are learning so early!

    Like

  17. Thanks for stopping by! Thanks for your comment.

    Like

  18. As parents, your son’s lovely question to his boys, gives me faith that perhaps this next few generations will fare better than the last ones. But then, that’s what I thought when I started out… hmmm. 😉 Thoughtful piece, Lisa.

    Like

  19. don’t get me wrong- the kids get on each other’s nerves and are going through a biting stage– awful. The parents though deal with it very differently than I did/would. And w/o any television!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s