Nurturing Our Spirited Children
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Verbal Abuse by Preschool Teacher


My 3 1/2 year old was verbally abused by her preschool teacher because of her spiritedness.  How do parents of spirtied children find teachers and schools that are willing to meet the needs of these wonderful children?


I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter had to endure such an experience.  I hope that you've been able to take whatever steps were needed to take to ensure that it doesn't happen again to her or to another.

What a great question you've asked.  To be honest, alot of it depends on where in the country you live.  Some geographic areas are more restrictive in their definition of *appropriate* behavior, others openly embrace that each person (child or adult) is unique and deserves to be treated with respect, while most run somewhere in between.

The best thing you can do is become as knowledgeable as possible.  Read the *Must Read* books that are relevant to your family situation.  The more you understand and can articulate your daughter's temperament, learning styles, etc... the more leverage you'll have.  Nothing is more powerful than being able to say to a teacher "interesting that you should be having such-and-such a difficulty with her.  We never have that at home and this approach is what we do."  You're in the driver's power seat...not the school.

Find online (or in person is even better) support to help you not feel like you're alone or reinventing the wheel every step of the way.

In all honesty, many families find that they face a yearly evaluation process for their spirited kids as they repeatedly reassess the match between their child's teacher/school and their child.  More and more are choosing to home- (or un-) school, others seek out area charter schools (where the teacher:child ratios are often lower), and some I've know have even moved to a different area (even state) that was a better match for their family.

Part of the problem is that most parents find themselves walking a very fine line between being an advocate for their child and being labeled by an uncompromising school as a 'problem parent'.  None of us should ever receive that label, but it's an unfortunate reality in all too many school districts.

In some cases, it's just a matter of helping the teacher become aware of temperament (Mary Sheedy Kurcinka's book "Raising Your Spirited Child" is a great place for them to start) and learning styles (keeping in mind that there's still no real concensus of how to categorize & label them so the various books out there often create more confusion than clarity).  I know some parents who've had a tremendous impact by donating a bunch of books (of their choosing :o) to the teacher's resource library.  The teacher's were very grateful for the information and some changes occurred very quickly.  It all depends on the school's environment.

If you're finding that her intensity is a factor (and it almost always is in our spirited kids), read Howard Glasser's book "Transforming the Difficult Child": The Nurtured Heart Approach -  Ignore the ADHD slant (the bulk of his practice has been working w/ kids mis-diagnosed as ADHD) and you'll learn a great deal about how intensity factors in as the 'fuel' that drives our kids' behavior and other temperament traits.  The best part is that his approach works beautifully in a school setting and includes great ideas for bringing it to your child's school.

I wish I had a quick series of answers for you, but as each child is so unique in their needs and challenges, it's very hard to make many blanket comments.  If I can help you sort it out any more, or if you have any questions, please just email.  I'm here to help!

Good luck and give your daughter an extra hug for me.

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