by Izzy Kalman (July 2003)
The world is going topsy turvy. Lately I have been speaking a lot about the contamination of psychology by law. More and more laws are being passed defining how people need to behave, and requiring adults who deal with children to enforce these laws. The assumption, which few seem to have the guts to challenge, is that whatever is legal is automatically psychologically the best for us. The underlying reason, I believe, is that we are afraid of getting in trouble. Faced with doing what we think is psychologically best or following the law, we follow the law.
I have a new client that illustrates the insanity overtaking education. A young mother called me because her family has been having a year from hell. Her five year old daughter has been having behavior problems in school all year long, and the kindergarten teacher suspects she has an attention deficit disorder. Meanwhile, this same “ADD” kindergarten student has done wonderfully in the 3 R’s, quite an accomplishment for a child who can’t pay attention.
The first day of the school year, this cherubic little gir, who had just turned five, held the hand of another girl throughout the day, and gave her a kiss. Instead of admiring the girl’s sweetness, the kindergarten teacher informed the parents that they must stop their daughter from displaying “sexual harassment”! So she was forbidden to touch other children, and was disciplined by both her teacher in school and her parents at home whenever she put her hands on any other child.
This, of course, did not make the little girl’s behavior improve. She became an angry child looking to get back at others. But it also gave her great power. She discovered she can drive the adult world crazy by bothering other kids and no one can stop her. So much unnecessary misery has been caused because schools are trying to squelch the normal – and often healthy – natural behavior of children.
Fortunately, the family has been able to return to normal, as the school year is over and the parents have taken my advice to stop interfering in her social relationships.