LilaTovCocktail: Ingredients: one part NE Ohio; two parts politics; two parts media, and one part each: culture, family & the Jewish community. Directions: Shake well.

What? You mean a 3-year-old who can't sit still during circle time ISN'T destined to be a complete SOCIOPATH?


I'm the mother of 2 delightful but rambunctious boys who didn't sit still in circle time (or any other time), don't always follow the teacher's directions, and like to do their own thing in their own way and their own time.

Last winter their paternal grandmother declared that "they had no sense of obedience," and she's probably right.

After all, with the exception of life-threatening situations, blind obedience has never been high on my parenting list.

Independent thinking? Yes. Questioning authority? Yes.
Looking both ways before they cross the street? Yes.
Crushing their spirits? No.

So I am delighted to see any study that puts into question the growing trend among early childhood educators to pathologize children whose behaviors don't conform to their expectations.

Most early childhood teachers want children to sit quietly at times, share nicely, and do what they're told. I can understand why, and I'm happy to help with those are behavioral goals (even if I don't think they're likely to be met).

The growing trend among early childhood educators is to see nonconforming behavior as a symptom of a serious pathology that must be dealt with right away -- by the parents, outside of school with people with M.D. and Ph.D. after their names. "

Many parents at our school -- and I am one -- have marched their children from expert to expert in search of the holy grail of a diagnosis and treatment plan, preferably a pharmacological one (aka "the magic pill").

To audiologists and speech pathologists ("he doesn't always answer me when I call him"); to neuropsychologists and neurologists ("If it *is* ADD, he can just take a pill"); to pediatric occupational therapists ("He has sensory issues -- during fire drills he puts his hands over his ears to block out the noise").

Children with a real problems will benefit from early intervention.

But not every childhood misbehavior is a symptom of a psychopathology or illness.

These studies confirm the old saw that children develop at their own speed. And most of us end up pretty much in the same final spot, no matter how long it took for us to get there.

From the NYTimes:
Studies ease fears about young children's misbehavior
By BENEDICT CAREY November 12, 2007

Educators and psychologists have long feared that children entering school with behavior problems were doomed to fall behind in the upper grades. But two new studies suggest that those fears are exaggerated.

One concluded that kindergartners who are identified as troubled do as well academically as their peers in elementary school. The other found that children with attention deficit disorders suffer primarily from a delay in brain development, not from a deficit or flaw.

Experts say the findings of the two studies, being published Tuesday in separate journals, could change the way scientists, teachers and parents understand and manage children who are disruptive or emotionally withdrawn in the early years of school. The studies might even prompt a reassessment of the possible causes of disruptive behavior in some children.

“I think these may become landmark findings, forcing us to ask whether these acting-out kinds of problems are secondary to the inappropriate maturity expectations that some educators place on young children as soon as they enter classrooms,” said Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education, who was not connected with either study.


Kindergartners who interrupted the teacher, defied instructions and even picked fights were performing as well in reading and math as well-behaved children of the same abilities when they both reached fifth grade, the study found.


In the other study, researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and McGill University, using imaging techniques, found that the brains of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder developed normally but more slowly in some areas than the brains of children without the disorder.


The findings should also put to rest concerns that boys and girls who are restless, disruptive or withdrawn in kindergarten are bound to suffer academically.


“The basic sequence of development in the brains of these kids with A.D.H.D. was intact, absolutely normal,” Dr. Shaw said. “I think this is pretty strong evidence we’re talking about a delay, and not an abnormal brain.”

Read the whole story at the New York Times website.

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