Ask Amma

Can Preschoolers Be Depressed?

In Yes / No on 26 August 2010 at 8:03 pm

To share personal stories takes a great deal of courage and one must be prepared for all the comments from parents and nonparents alike.  Here I am sharing the comment I posted on the article that appeared in the New York Times, “Can Preschoolers be Depressed?” As I read the article I could not help but be reminded of Alfie Kohn and his advice – do not be in a rush, do not over-schedule – and his warning against “counting” and other supposed “disciplinary” techniques.  The photos at the top of the article seem to answer the question – yes, if they are all alone in a room full of toys.

Can Preschoolers Be Depressed?

Published: August 25, 2010
  1. Comment“He always wanted to please.”
    “rarely disobeyed or acted out.”
    ” If he dawdled or didn’t listen, Raghu (also a nickname) had only to count to five before Kiran hastened to tie his shoes or put the toys away.”
    Though you quote these lines approvingly at the opening of the article, I read them, particularly the last one, as clear warning signals.

    The counting technique to produce obedience, which although popular nowadays is yet another way of making a child feel inferior. Sadly, he is praised for his perfect response to it. Reading on about the Legos, Disney World, and the mother who “ferried him from one child-friendly place to the next” made me feel claustrophobic.

    The comments about the trip to his grandparents’ farm and the vacation in Spain as the happiest times in his life suggest the need for more leisure, less scheduling, less expectation and less monitoring.

    I congratulate this family for seeking help and hope their story inspires more families to give children time, space and unconditional love.

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