When Do Parents Intervene?

Carla Starts Kindergarten

Our four and a half year old, Carla, could hardly wait to go to school. Youngest of three children she watched her brother and sister go off to school each day. She was a few days too young to begin Kindergarten in public school so we looked for a good private school. We found an excellent school nearby. A kind competent teacher taught Kindergarten. We enrolled Carla. She loved school.

An Unexpected Change

About six weeks after school started, Carla’s teacher unexpectedly resigned. Another teacher took her place. Very soon we saw a change in our little girl. She didn’t want to go to school any more. One day after school she walked slowly toward the car, her eyes on the ground. She wouldn’t talk. Alarmed, I tried to find out what was wrong.

That night when I tucked her into bed, I said,”Honey, I know something happened today. Do you want to talk about it?” She burst into sobs. “Oh Mommy, I must be very bad.”

I was shocked. “Why did you say that? You have never been bad.” “Because,” she blurted tearfully, “The teacher spanked me today.”  “What?! Why?” “I don’t know.” By now she was in my arms shaking with sobs and I was furious. She really didn’t know why the teacher spanked her.

Finding Out

The next morning Carla did not go to school alone. I planned to find out what had happened and stay all day to watch this teacher teach. When I confronted the teacher she said something like this: Carla is so shy and afraid she will make a mistake. When I told the children to draw a cat under the letter C, she  just sat there and started to cry. I was shy like that when I was a little girl. I thought I might shock her out of it by spanking her.

She Shocked Me

I spent the day in the classroom. I told Carla on the way home her father had decided to get a puppy if she wouldn’t mind staying home another year. He needed her to keep the puppy from feeling lonely. She agreed to do it. The teacher was fired a few weeks later. Most of the time parents need to help their children learn to solve their own problems age appropriately. Sometimes, as in this example parents need to be their children’s advocates.