Preschool Behavior Problems

Here’s a disturbing but sadly not surprising story from ABC News about

Janine Butler, a 28-year-old New Jersey teacher, knows something about out-of-control students.

One girl threw objects, threatened Butler with knives and tried to bite her. Another boy was “just rude, rude, rude,” pulling down his pants and swearing at her. The final straw came when another student scratched and hit her.

Butler’s students were barely out of diapers — 3- and 4-year-olds — and their public preschool in Trenton was not allowed to expel them.

“No one would do anything,” said Butler, who eventually quit. “I felt alone.”

Tantrums, aggression, biting and kicking are becoming increasingly common in preschool, according to child development specialists.

Here’s a laughable statement from the article:

“Nobody knows why,” Gilliam said. “A lot of people blame parents. A lot of people blame the schools or an education system that pushed programs to preschool that are not developmentally appropriate. Now the stakes are higher in preschool.”

Hint: it starts at home, and is mostly at home. Doesn’t take a rocket science to realize this, just a willingness to consider something other than the philosophy that government can solve anything and do anything.

In case anyone is under the delusion that the public education system is going to be able to wave a magic wand and turn kids like this into well-behaved little angels, you’re smoking something pretty powerful. Oh, you may eventually, after a few years, get them down to the point where they’re misbehaving “smarter,” where it isn’t so out in the open and they can get away with it better. But their morals and discipline isn’t going to magically become good.

Problems like this begin at HOME, where parents are probably sending children bad messages with their own bad behavior, providing poor supervision and teaching, or aren’t teaching the kids anything at all.

God ordained that PARENTS, not public school, teach children the basics, which includes morality and proper behavior.

Want more proof that these so-called “experts” are as blind as a bat when it comes to seeing the causes of this problem? Read this excerpt:

NIEER’s review of national research suggests bad behavior may be up for a variety of reasons: poor prenatal care, including drug use; family poverty and “negative parenting practices, such as harsh discipline and maternal insensitivity.”

Walk the cat back a little farther, please, and you’ll find the real problem: moral failure.

Poor prenatal care isn’t the culprit; that has no bearing on the later behavior of the child.

Drug use, of course is what: a moral failure. One that affects the children.

Poverty? That’s an insult to good poor people around the country and around the world. There are plenty of poor people who raise their children to behave, have discipline, and behave morally. I grew up dirt poor, the son of a dirt-poor farmer. But my parents taught me and disciplined me. Too many parents today, poor and comfortable alike, just don’t bother teaching their children anything.

On the other hand, if the poor home is in this economic condition because of addictions (drug, alcohol, gambling, etc.) or a poor work ethic, then this goes a long way in explaining why the children are having problems. But it goes back to a moral problem, not simply “poverty.” Poverty does not automatically dictate bad behavior, but bad behavior often results in poverty.

Harsh discipline? “Harsh” discipline is sometimes necessary, and maybe if there was more of it, these children wouldn’t be acting like wild animals. But not the kind of harsh discipline that involves beating, hitting, and yelling profanity at the child. Firm discipline is a loving act to better the child and demonstrate that there are boundaries and requirements for living. Parents would do well to use such “harsh” punishments as firm rules, standards, spankings when needed, and loss of privileges. Beating and yelling because the kid bothered you just illustrates to the child that force is a way of life. Wrong message.

Maybe children would learn better and behave better if we treated them with love, affection and respect as a human being, instead of an unpleasant obligation that we want to push off on someone else at every opportunity. What kind of message does it send our children when we’re always sending them somewhere other than the home in which they should be loved, cherished and welcomed?

But now South Dakota wants to bring even more children out of the home and into the preschool environment with SB 26, which passed the state senate three days ago.

In a situation where the budget is already tight, this makes no sense whatsoever.

And with children like the wild ones above, do we really want to take more children out of the home (perhaps ones that have been taught well) and expose them to this kind of peer example? Do we really want to wipe out everything good they’ve been taught at home by placing them alongside wild banshees all day?

And do so for no real benefit? Studies have shown that any academic benefit realized by preschool dissipates to nothing by about the 4th grade.

So we want to spend more money to take children out of the home where they belong, place them around bad peer influences, and get zero academic benefit out of it?

Sounds like a classic liberal plan, to me. Which means abysmal failure and more suffering.

6 Responses to “Preschool Behavior Problems”

  1. Bob, I just don’t see how SB 26 is going to take more children out of the home. I’d like to point out a key bit of the bill’s language: “Rules promulgated to establish standards for the accreditation of pre-kindergarten programs shall ensure that ANY CHILD UNDER THE MINIMUM AGE FOR KINDERGARTEN PURSUANT TO § 13-28-2 IS NOT REQUIRED TO ATTEND A PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM.” (emphasis mine)

    It’s important to remember that South Dakota ALREADY leads the nation in the number of children who are cared for outside of the home. “South Dakota has more children in day care than any other state in the nation. It also has the highest percentage of working mothers. South Dakota’s low wages force 77% of women in the state with young children to go to work. That means nearly half of South Dakota babies and toddlers are in day care; almost twice the national average.” (,36049)

    Our kids are already out of the home during the day. I don’t see how enacting pre-K standards are going to somehow going to make it impossible for current stay-at-home parents to continue to educate their children they way they want to. The state clearly isn’t going to come knocking on my door and demand I enroll my child in a licensed preschool program. Under SB 26, I still have the freedom to stay home with my child and educate her myself.

    Can you explain your reasoning?

  2. Bob, I agree with your assessment of the problems in nurseries and pre-schools, especially the lack of effective parenting at home that leads to much of the behavior problems. I don’t understand what SB 26 seeks to accomplish.

    Erin, can you help me understand? Your point is well-taken, but I don’t know what the legislature hopes to accomplish with this bill. Is it simply an attempt to regulate and standardize pre-schools in South Dakota?

  3. Thanks for asking, Erin.

    To put it simply, it goes back to the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” In this case, meaning that if you make taxpayer-funded preschool available, then more people will avail themselves of it.

    Additionally, as Senator Bill Napoli pointed out last year, headstart began as a voluntary program, and within 12 years it was mandatory.

    I’m aware of the stats you cited about the high number of children in South Dakota who are already in daycare. I consider that a bad thing, since parents are tremendously better able to care for and teach their children than someone else. This pre-K program would only increase a bad thing.

    And I don’t believe that these women are “forced” to work outside the home. My wife stayed home even when I was making peanuts; we made it, we kept the bills paid, and we didn’t starve. And I know people who have done it and are doing it with even less than we were making. It takes sacrifices, yes, but I think the children are worth it.

    Besides, I know plenty of couples where each parent is pulling in $30,000-$50,000+ and yet they claim they just can’t afford for one to stay home. I guess if your definition of “affording” it is two new cars, a fine house, and plenty of recreational money, then no, they can’t afford it.

    Our priorities are thoroughly screwed up when we consider money and toys more important than a solid foundation for our children. We wonder why so many kids have behavior problems? We wonder why so many kids are getting in trouble with the law? We wonder why so many kids have trouble academically? The answer’s right in front of us.

    Taxpayer-funded expansion of pre-K just takes a bad situation and makes it even worse…at taxpayer expense.

  4. So you think that because you know some couples making $60,000-$100,000 a year that it must be the case for the majority of working couples in South Dakota? Really? Do you have some stats to back that up? Sure, I know of couples like this, too. I also know of plenty who have both parents working just so they can afford health insurance or because they have a couple of kids they’re putting through college. Or they’re trying to keep working the family farm or ranch and finding it more and more difficult all the time.

  5. Erin, I didn’t say the majority of SD couples are making $60,000-$100,000.

    I said I knew several who were making this much–and more–and still claim they both “have to work” to make ends meet. My point being that “making ends meet” is subjective beyond the basic necessities.

    Consider these Census Bureau statistics on people who are “in poverty” in America:

    – Some 43 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes; the average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

    – Some 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning; by contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

    – Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded; two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

    – Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

    – Some 97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

    -Some 78 percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

    -Some 89 percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

    When I was growing up poor, we’d have thought our ship had come in if we’d had it this good! And I knew a LOT of families when I lived in England who would have been just as ecstatic to have it this good, not to mention the poverty I saw in Mexico (my buddy’s girlfriend was a nurse who lived with her parents, and my dad has barns on his farm that are in better shape than their house was).

    In other words, poverty in America isn’t nearly what it is around the world. We have it pretty good here.

    A lot of families here in America don’t “need” to have both parents working outside the home; they just want a lifestyle that demands that kind of income, and their kids get the short end of the stick.