Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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Anger and cruel behavior in Early Childhood Classrooms
Saturday June 09, 2007

Dear Dr. Miller,

After earning a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education( with the help of your writing in my coursework) and working for twelve years as an Early Childhood music educator, I am seeing some disturbing things. Some teachers still justify anger and what I consider cruel behavior in their "management" of 3-5 year old children. Sometimes I'm right there in the room, playing my guitar, singing, etc. and a teacher will swoop down and grab a child and move her to another part of the room, with the child showing fear, crying ,etc. It breaks my heart. Sometimes, a teacher will shout right into a child's face " Do I have to shout at you to get you to...."
One teacher admitted to me that she" was a monster" with a child one day and the next day, he was meek as a lamb.
This is not the norm of teacher behavior in the schools where I teach.Most teachers are loving and firm.
I use different kinds of strategies with young children, trying to help them manage their own behavior, rather than physically moving them around . If I need to have a child move, I offer a gentle hand and we walk together to the different spot.
What can I do to help children who experience this kind of behavior? Is this a form of abuse?

KWF, Virginia

AM: Yes, of course, it is. What you can do? Ask your feelings in the actual situation. They will tell you more than I can do.

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