Kindergarten Teacher Talks about Parental Worries

A girl misses her mom at kindergarten, what should parents do?
Taisia Popova | 20 February 2021
Kindergarten Teacher Talks about Parental Worries
Photo: Anastasia_Vishn / Shutterstock

Katya misses her mother in kindergarten, Said refused to have an afternoon snack, and Yaroslav cried in the morning and didn’t want to go to the kindergarten. Their mothers are alarmed, what if their children have a psychological trauma? And the kindergarten teacher, who comforted the children during the day, comforts their parents during the parental meeting. Taisiya Popova talks about parental guilt and anxiety.

Why Does The Teacher Comforts Moms?

When a parent meeting is scheduled in the kindergarten, the teacher rehearses a big speech, plans the agenda, hangs the main issues on the blackboard in front of the desks and, just in case, pins the message about the meeting at the top in the special group on social networks. This is done so that the participants would speak briefly and to the point during the meeting.

Obviously it is impossible to speak briefly and to the point at a meeting with parents of the younger group. Mothers of three and four years olds look at you with big frightened eyes. Or instead, they glare at you furiously, ready to protest and bombard you, waving Petranovskaya’s books, verdicts of their psychotherapist and even threaten to write a statement to the district public education authority or to the prosecutor’s office (they do this is out of fear too, I understand this, offense is the best defense).

Parents diligently record something on their tablets, phones, paper notebooks and, just in case, some make a video. It’s either to have evidence, because you can’t add words to a case file, whereas you can do this with a video easily, or they don’t want to miss anything, otherwise they’d feel that everything is lost and the kindergarten experience will turn into one big psychological trauma for their children.

Parents also bring sweets, but they are uncomfortable about it, because they don’t know if I am on a diet or not, if I don’t eat sweets, or if I’d take it as a bribe. Therefore, they somehow unobtrusively take out these sweets, but so that I’d see them, and at the same time I could treat everyone.

So such meetings in general are a whole ritual, a vicious circle of anxiety. And we aren’t discussing the new state sanitary and epidemiological rules and norms that are on the agenda, but parental anxiety. Their nxiety and guilt.

So just like I comfort their children during the day, I have to comfort their mothers at such meetings.

Katya misses me, and I suffer!”

Mothers’ anxiety rises more and more every year. They have read a ton of books on child psychology, remember their childhood experiences, know a bunch of clever terms and are sure that every minute their child is at risk of receiving some mental trauma, the consequences of which will put an end to his or her further development.

“Said said that Edward doesn’t want to sit at the same table with him, and now he hasn’t eaten in the kindergarten for two days! He says he didn’t eat anything! Is it an eating disorder?”

“Marionella said she was laughed at at the toilet, and at home she didn’t sit on the potty! And then in the morning, she didn’t do it either! Was this bullying?”

“Yaroslav said in the evening that he wanted to go to the kindergarten again, but in the morning, he started crying! There he demanded some kind of T-shirt, which was at home, and in general it was his brother’s T-shirt, and he refused to go to the room without it! I know I had to be firm and not pamper him, but I wouldn’t have had time to get this T-shirt from home. Or shouldn’t I have been so firm? Or is it a significant object of affection and an expression of his free will, and I suppressed it, and now he sees my inattention and indifference?”

“Katya told me that she missed me! In the kindergarten! Did she tell you that she missed her mom? I can’t even think how she must have suffered! I have tears in the morning, how can I walk her to the kindergarten? I can’t even go to bed anymore! Probably, we went to the kindergarten too early, should I have waited for another year?”

All these questions seem different at first glance, but at some point I realized that there is only one source. It is huge parental anxiety. The fear of mothers, who in their childhood endured all the traumas of their generation, did not know how to treat children differently than they were treated themselves, and now they build their authority, parental control and regime according to books.

They sacredly believe every word of their children, forgetting how much they fantasized in their own childhood and how many times they lied themselves, because it was fun and interesting.

First Love and Soap in the Sink

So we work with anxiety.

Said said that Edward does not want to sit at the same table with him. Yes. He said that because Edward fell in love with a girl (they can do this, yes. We are also progressive teachers who have studied the works of Petranovskaya, Newfeld and all the attachment theories in the world. We recognize and pronounce all the feelings of children). So this girl sits at another table. And of course, Edward warned everyone that he didn’t want to sit at his table anymore, and the teachers allowed him to sit next to the girl.

And Said did not eat afterwards, that’s true. For an afternoon snack there was a cottage cheese pudding, which he does not like, and we do not force anyone to eat, because we are progressive teachers, see above. Today he ate breakfast and lunch as usual. As for the afternoon snack, you took him before the tables were set, because you needed to take him to a speech therapist. So he did not eat the afternoon snack two days in a row.

Mothers are more alarmed every year. They have read a ton of books on child psychology, remember their childhood experiences and are sure that every minute their child is at risk of receiving a mental trauma.

Marionella said that she was laughed at at the toilet. Yes, we have a couple of comments here. She loves to pour liquid soap out of the dispenser so that it turns out to be a whole shell of foam, because it is very funny. And when Marionella laughs, you know, anyone will share it. She’s the best at making people laugh at the group. Therefore, she deliberately poured soap into the sink and invited everyone to see how funny it was. So the four of them laughed in the toilet while pouring soap, I confirm that. They laughed especially hard when the foam crawled from the sink onto the floor and frothed everything around, including the ventilation.

And she doesn’t want to sit on the potty, because naturally, it isn’t a nursery, we don’t have potties. We have toilets, so she uses the toilet. If you help her learn how to use the toilet at home like adults do, because it’s probably full-size, not like the ones in the kindergarten, then you will get the result in 24 hours, like in an advertisement. It’s advanced pedagogy, see above.

Yaroslav said in the evening that he wanted to go to the kindergarten. I understand that. In the evening, I also imagine how we will be in the kindergarten tomorrow, drawing polar bears on blue paper with cotton wool soaked in gouache, and it will look all fluffy and disheveled. Then we’ll make a big exhibition of our bears. But in the morning, when my alarm clock rings at 5:44 in the pitch dark winter morning… You know, I also somehow don’t really want to go to the kindergarten, although I’m not three years old, and the kindergarten does not mean separation from my mother for me, and in general, I get paid for coming there.

At the age of three, you still really want to be with your mother, no matter how many bears await you the next day. The bears will appear later, but your mother is leaving right now. How can you not cry here? And since Yaroslav doesn’t know how to communicate such complex thoughts at the age of three, because reflection is not yet developed and he is not able to do this at his age, so he clings to the excuse to legally shed tears: the T-shirt is not the one he wants. In addition, he is unhappy that his brother, who is a school student is now on vacation and stayed at home. Yes, he sees it, do not underestimate the observation of three-year-olds. Imagine, your husband stayed at home, and you rise in the pitch dark winter morning, and they lead you somewhere, even if it is to draw bears with a cotton wool. And the snow is falling on your face. But someone was allowed to stay at home to sleep under a warm blanket.

Photo: Rudolf Hein / Pixabay

The Ghost of Mother’s Guilt

The main concern of all mothers, not only Katya’s mother, is the following. Katya misses her mother and talks about it! What should parents do?

Dear parents, if your child tells teachers that he misses you in the kindergarten and tells you afterwards that he was bored, it means that everything is all right with him!

This just means that you have a trusting relationship with your child, he can talk about his feelings, he knows that he has feelings and they have names (don’t laugh at this, a bunch of adults don’t know this and don’t know what it is that they feel, and learn to recognize their feelings for a lot of money in psychotherapy later). He’s not afraid to trust you with his vulnerable feelings. He isn’t afraid of sharing them with us either. He trusts us too, you have chosen an excellent kindergarten. We are progressive teachers and recognize the feelings of children, see above.

And don’t think that acknowledging the feelings of children means falling on your knees and looking into their eyes with guilt: did you suffer? did you suffer terribly? did I hurt you? Let’s talk about it!

In the case of Katya, it looks like this. Katya enthusiastically plays ghosts with Lisa and Yan (“it’s not you who is a ghost, it’s me! I’m a ghost!Give back my pillowcase now!”). Ten minutes later, running past me in a pillowcase, she pokes her head out and passionately says:

“I miss my mom!”

“You miss your mom,” I answer, because I am an advanced teacher and know how to contain feelings, see above. “Of course you can miss your mom.”

“I really miss her!” Katya confirms.

Then she puts on the pillowcase and rushes on to scare Lisa and Yan, because she is the scariest ghost. It’s almost like the ghost of mother’s guilt, only in a pillowcase and during the day.

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