In his theory of moral development Kohlberg classifies toddlers as “premoral”. He believes children this age make moral decisions based on self-interest and whether they will get caught or not. Basically, he sees toddlers like bankers at Goldman Sachs. They are naughty and they like it that way. So, is that premoral or amoral?
It’s been feeling amoral folks. Case in point – I went to hug our little bunny boy the other night and was treated to an eyeball slashing. Instead of hugging me back he poked my in the eye with what can only be described as Freddy Krueger like precision. I actually felt his little razor sharp nail skim my eyeball. When I called the eye doctor the next day the reception told me at least one mommie a week comes in for that issue and last week they had three mommies. I couldn’t find a babysitter at such short notice so I told her I would be bringing my abuser with me. Oh, how she laughed.
You know that scene in the movie Carrie – where that kooky Carrie makes all that cutlery fly around the kitchen? That’s every room in our house right now – except it’s toy cars, a Buzz Light Year doll, a Where The Wild Things Are book (that’s irony), shoes, cups, dishes, eyeglasses, remote controls and almost a real live miniature dachshund.
T’s pre-school uses a model of childrearing that accentuates the positive. So, you don’t say, “Stop running!” instead you say, “Use your quiet feet”. You also ignore it when they (and, I do mean they as in those people) throw things. And, if they do something naughty like hurt someone you don’t ask them to apologize because they probably don’t feel bad (can a sociopath really feel bad?) instead you say something like, “Look at mommie with the slashed eyeball does she look happy?”
I try to use this approach as much as humanly possible or as much as it’s possible for me the human. I get why saying, “You’re such a jerk!” when you just got bit in the face is probably not an inspired response. But, I also think it’s OK to instill a little strictness into the picture. While his school wouldn’t agree I have used time outs. Hey, if the only upshot is 3 minutes where I don’t hear yelling it works for me. I have asked him to apologize even if he didn’t mean it because that miniature dachshund is eleven years old and she squealed like a stuck pig from whatever he did while I was in the other room.
I don’t know if I’m right but if I didn’t impose some restrictions I might feel like the federal government when it comes to Goldman Sachs and the others. Just because the toddler doesn’t know moral yet might be something like Wall Street didn’t really break any laws. I guess I like a little regulation in my parenting, too.