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  1. Kerandria
    Kerandria March 1, 2013 at 9:57 pm |

    I shudder to think about that girl’s home life if she reacted that strongly to seeing another female wearing a combat uniform. Poor kid.

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable March 2, 2013 at 1:51 am |

      Do you? I feel like her home life could be pretty typical. I was a republican until I went to college.

      It’s a shame that she doesn’t know from an early age that she can do whatever she wants, but I would hesitate from generalizing from this.

      1. EG
        EG March 2, 2013 at 9:11 am |

        I don’t think it’s her right-wing attitudes that suggest abuse; it’s the extremity of her distress and the violence of her reaction to someone who doesn’t conform to them.

        1. ellid
          ellid March 2, 2013 at 9:14 am |

          I agree. A child so upset that she starts screaming at an adult has some issues.

          Wow.

        2. Barnacle Strumpet
          Barnacle Strumpet March 2, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

          “right-wing attitudes”? I hate to say it, but I see left-wing people teaching their kids gendered crap like that almost as much as apoliticals or right-wingers.

        3. EG
          EG March 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm |

          Sure, leftists can be misogynist, sexist pigs. That doesn’t make misogyny and sexism leftist political stances in the abstract, though. Conservative gender politics are conservative.

        4. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable March 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm |

          Yeah, I don’t know. My niece is 4 and really, really likes being right and hates being told that she’s wrong. Her home life is super healthy, AFAIK, but she’ll push shit until someone (usually my sister) sits down with her and says that her reaction is inappropriate and is hurting other people. TOTALLY weird if evil fizz were to do that in this scenario – it’s a little comfortable, I think – but I really hate the implication that there must be abuse somewhere because a kid had a tantrum and we don’t like the subject of it.

        5. EG
          EG March 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm |

          Perhaps I’m reading the affect wrong. It doesn’t…sound tantrum-y to me (and I speak as the expert thrower of many a tantrum when I was a small EG). My memory of tantrum emotions is that of rage and frustration, and my reading of EF’s story makes it sound to me like the kid was panicking and scared. That’s what’s tripping off my “shit is fucked up” meter. If the affect was more rage than fear, though, that would change my read on the situation. I’d still have a word with the teacher, though, to find out how regular an occurrence this is with the kid.

        6. Kerandria
          Kerandria March 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm |

          my reading of EF’s story makes it sound to me like the kid was panicking and scared. That’s what’s tripping off my “shit is fucked up” meter.

          That’s how it came off to me, too.

      2. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
        The Kittehs' Unpaid Help March 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

        I wasn’t reading Kerandia’s comment as meaning abuse, but I had the same reaction: I shudder to think what that child’s home life is like. I’m thinking extremely rigid gender stereotypes, maybe from a very conservative Christian base. That’s horrible enough to imagine for a child’s upbringing without any thought of abuse entering into it.

        1. Jerry
          Jerry March 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm |

          Ummmm… I don’t think you can force “extremely rigid gender stereotypes” on someone without being somewhat abusive.

    2. samanthab
      samanthab March 2, 2013 at 5:39 am |

      I don’t think her reaction was necessarily just about home life. There is, per studies, a developmental phase when gender boundaries become paramount to boys and girls. Yeah, the perceived gender roles are arbitrary and bullshit, but they are roles defined beyond, if also partially within, the family unit. Plenty of moms I know try very hard to avoid the gender determinism, and it inevitably persists because it’s too ubiquitous in society. Do I think that the family unit plays a role in such an extreme reaction? Probably. But I don’t think you can lay the whole reaction at the feet of the family. Clearly, the girl is not kept at home in isolation. She’s out in the world, and that’s what the world is teaching her.

      1. ellid
        ellid March 2, 2013 at 9:16 am |

        Perhaps, but to the point of screaming hysterically at an adult? That seems a bit much even if the girl is going through a phase.

        1. mythago
          mythago March 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

          No, it isn’t a bit much for a three-year-old.

        2. Anon21
          Anon21 March 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

          Does it? For a four-year-old?

        3. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 1:46 pm |

          Does it? For a four-year-old?

          No, not necessarily.

          There’s a fairly broad range of what is considered developmentally appropriate. Some kids mature faster than others, so that while some kids may appear more mature or poised than others in their cohort, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those other kids are not still withing the range of normal. Lagging behind a bit? That may very well be.

          I’ve brought this up elsewhere, but kids who are actually non-neurotypical often are delayed when it comes to issues like emotional maturity and impulse control. You may just not be able to tell from a short-term interaction with that child that they are non-NT.

        4. Ens
          Ens March 2, 2013 at 7:32 pm |

          When I was three I freaked out at my parents at Hallowe’en because they wanted to make me look like a ghost but “make-up is for girls”. My mom tried very hard to raise me in a gender neutral way and ensure I had both “boy toys” and “girl toys”, etc. (same for my sister before me).

          I also remember a four year old screaming hysterically at an adult who couldn’t correctly identify a Pokémon that she’d just introduced (in her four year old way).

          I don’t really see anything unusual about this in a very young child. Certainly not optimal for society, but I don’t see it as a red flag on her home life.

    3. Maureen O'Danu
      Maureen O'Danu March 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |

      That was my first thought as well. I’m a therapist who works with all ages five and up, and sometimes its devastating to me how often children are taught to believe in limitations based on ‘gender’ that are really out and out prejudice.

      In some ways its even more devastating when I come across an adult who has suffered significant psychological damage through being taught those beliefs or rejected by family because they don’t follow those beliefs or try desperately to follow those beliefs but can’t.

  2. Amelia the Lurker
    Amelia the Lurker March 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm |

    This is so sad. While kids often have very rigid ideas about gender roles, it usually has to do more with presentation and less with career choices and what you’re “allowed to do.” I can only think that this girl must be getting such strong opinions from somewhere, and that this anger may be a reflection of the anger she sees adults in her life show when women do things they’re “not supposed to do.”

    1. dawn
      dawn March 2, 2013 at 2:07 am |

      and that this anger may be a reflection of the anger she sees adults in her life show when women do things they’re “not supposed to do.”

      Ew :-(

      I kinda imagine it to be really rubbish parenting. Where learning to deal with people who disagree or have different opinions; people who say no; coping with cognitive dissonance etc – is either non-existent or warped. Agree with me or else!

      Perhaps another special snowflake in the making.

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie March 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm |

        Or maybe just a typical four-year-old, not “rubbish parenting.”

        1. Lindsay Beyerstein
          Lindsay Beyerstein March 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

          Isn’t it highly unusual for a four-year-old to physically confront a strange adult? About anything?

          I have to wonder what kind of aggressive gender policing she’s seeing in the rest of her life. Somehow, she’s not only gotten the message that “Girls don’t do X” but also the message that “Girls who do un-girl things must be stopped, physically!”

          It’s common for kids to internalize the message that “girls don’t do X.” It seems normal for a 4-year-old to refuse to put on an army costumer herself, but physically challenging an adult over the adult’s clothes seems above and beyond the usual little kid defiance.

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie March 4, 2013 at 2:01 am |

          Not necessarily unusual. And a parent picking up a child would not necessarily be a “stranger” to a 3 or 4 year old. She might be seen as “Katie’s mom, therefore not a stranger.”

          It is bizarre for her to stomp all over evil fizz’s boots, though.

  3. Kimberly Inez McGuire
    Kimberly Inez McGuire March 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm |

    Your living example does more to combat “not for girls” mentality that any words could. Your daughter, and her misguided classmate, are luck to have you as a role model!

  4. Comradde PhysioProffe
    Comradde PhysioProffe March 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm |

    Probably sucks to live in the home of that poor little kid being indoctrinated with this kind of gross misogyny.

  5. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune March 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

    I have a sincere desire to snarl obscenities at whoever is raising that poor kid.

  6. Donna L
    Donna L March 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm |

    this anger may be a reflection of the anger she sees adults in her life show when women do things they’re “not supposed to do.”

    It seems very likely, doesn’t it? I do hope that this little girl hasn’t had that kind of anger directed at her for her own gender “transgressions.”

  7. Bunny
    Bunny March 1, 2013 at 10:44 pm |

    That poor kid.

    The fact that she reacted physically when you didn’t accede to her insistence – that she started stamping on your feet and shouting – makes me really wonder what’s going on at home that would make her feel so upset and distressed over seeing a woman wearing boots, of all things.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog March 1, 2013 at 10:59 pm | *

      Me too, Bunny. It just paints a picture of her every choice/action being ruthless policed as to whether it fits into her family’s “girl” box or not, and if she has any brothers it’s probably just as bad for them.

      Awful.

    2. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie March 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

      It’s called a “tantrum.”

    3. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie March 2, 2013 at 10:10 pm |

      I take it back! I read foot-stepping as “foot-stomping,” as in she was stamping her feet, not trying to step ON evil fizz’s!

      Sorry for not reading right.

  8. BBBShrewHarpy
    BBBShrewHarpy March 1, 2013 at 11:14 pm |

    Maybe her dad is in the armed forces, away from home, and she’s scared her mom will leave too.

    1. dawn
      dawn March 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm |

      True. That’s a very good point, thank you for noting it. I for one didn’t think of that, and yes that could totally explain her behaviour and beliefs. I really hope it is that.

      1. dawn
        dawn March 1, 2013 at 11:56 pm |

        I guess it could also be that mom is in the army and dad is annoyed about it. Or extended family talk about how women shouldn’t be in the army away from their children etc when they’re around this girl.

        Will never know. No matter what the situation is though, the outcome is still a little girl who will perhaps grow up with some very traditional beliefs. And her behaviour now suggests it’s more likely to be very vocal about those beliefs in years to come (and perhaps very resistant or open to hearing other beliefs).

        1. dawn
          dawn March 1, 2013 at 11:59 pm |

          Hmm, that last bit should read:

          And her behaviour now suggests she’s likely to be very vocal about those beliefs in years to come (and perhaps very resistant to/not open to hearing other beliefs).

        2. Echo Zen
          Echo Zen March 2, 2013 at 6:21 am |

          Hopefully she stays vocal for as long as she believes! That way her peers can hold her accountable for her small mind — and if she tries running as Bachmann’s successor whilst feigning a moderate face, they’ll know she’s selling poison and do something to stop her.

    2. Maureen O'Danu
      Maureen O'Danu March 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

      (sighs in relief) Yes, this would account for the behavior, and isn’t nearly as bad as the other possibility — that she’s being rigidly policed in gender roles, perhaps violently, at home.

  9. Countess Elena
    Countess Elena March 1, 2013 at 11:18 pm |

    Poor kid. It’s true that this is not coming from a vacuum, but I would not be so quick to blame the parents, or even family members. It could be peer influence. It could be her favorite show. Kids’ ideas about the world at that age can be so very strange to us.
    I went through a strong gender-policing phase for a few weeks as a little one, and my family had always been wonderful to me as a girl. It was just (as I faintly recall) that I had learned somewhere that I wasn’t being “girl” enough. As it happened, I had just started a new school where that was very much an unspoken lesson.

  10. A die
    A die March 1, 2013 at 11:21 pm |

    This is probably small consolation, but the influences at home may not be so bad.. I’ve always been a “there aren’t boys clothes or girls clothes… just clothes clothes” type mom when it came to what my girls can wear, and my youngest still went through a phase when she was roughly the same age where she got very particular about what she considered “for boys” and “for girls”, going so far as to throw a shit-fit when I tried to get her to wear what I thought was an adorable brown and yellow lacrosse t-shirt. She was having none of it, because it was a “Boys Shirt”

    However, the insistence on trying to police someone else, that does seem very off, and makes me wonder not only what kind of gender reinforcement she’s getting at home, but where the idea comes from that you can force others to adhere as well. I can’t even imagine how awkward that must have been for you.

    1. Andie
      Andie March 2, 2013 at 9:07 am |

      Hmm I somehow missed the “n” in my name

    2. Amelia the Lurker
      Amelia the Lurker March 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

      Those were my thoughts too (see comments above). I went through a stage of self-policing, but a) it was focused entirely on clothing, not behavior or, God knows, careers, whereas this child was upset not only at the clothing but at evil fizz being a soldier and b) I never policed anyone but myself.

    3. miga
      miga March 4, 2013 at 12:05 am |

      Yeah. I remember listening to a “This American Life” story where Dan Savage’s young son was super duper against his dads getting married because it just wasn’t done. Sometimes it really has nothing to do with the parents.

  11. dawn
    dawn March 1, 2013 at 11:43 pm |

    This is one of the most depressing articles I’ve read in a while. I feel utterly deflated, because it’s a reminder of the huge shift towards a more traditional view of ‘a woman’s role/place/etc’ and the careers they enter. In my opinion the backlash is currently ‘winning’ (for want of a more apt word). Perhaps it needs to in order for there to be another ‘wave’ or whatever. I really don’t know. I do know that the little girl’s mentality is pervasive and unapologetically so.

    Whoever (or whatever) is feeding the girls impressionable mind these beliefs/is reinforcing them or whatever, are messed up. If the girl is adopting these beliefs from TV/books/etc, this interaction suggests to me a lack of caregivers seeking to reform them – thus any argument the parents aren’t accountable, becomes null and void in my book.

    *gutted face*

  12. Stephanie
    Stephanie March 1, 2013 at 11:59 pm |

    I share everyone else’s shock and horror. I also agree with the person who wondered if she might have a parent that’s deployed right now – either her father – or maybe even her mother. She’s certainly acting out about something and needs some help from those in the position to follow up.

  13. Kit
    Kit March 2, 2013 at 12:02 am |

    I don’t know any little kid who would act out like that to an adult stranger. What would happen if she reacted like that to another child or to a teacher? What if the school had a guest come in for the day? If it is because she has a parent in the military that’s one thing, but that wouldn’t explain the boots. It would probably be best if her parents and school get involved now so these reactions of hers don’t grow much more.

  14. monkeypedia
    monkeypedia March 2, 2013 at 12:20 am |

    I have some experience with developmental psychology, and I wanted to point out that it’s actually very common for children this age to go through a phase of assigning very rigid gender roles to themselves and those around them *even if that is not what is being modeled for them*. They will often base this on just a couple of examples, so for instance if their dad usually does the laundry then they may insist that “laundry is only for boys”, if their mom does the gardening that “gardening is just for girls” and so on. They may, like this girl, get very upset when they see someone violating these “rules”, even one of their parents.

    So, this girl’s behavior could be a reflection of our sexist society in the sense that she may have seen representations in media of only (or primarily) men being in the army, and generalized from there (though she could also just have male relatives in the army, and no female relatives in the army, as noted in this thread). I just wanted to say that this kind of rigid gender policing by a 2-4 year old *does not* necessarily mean she is getting this behavior from home, or that she is going to retain these ideas going forward. Especially if fluidity of roles continues to be modeled, children will get over this phase.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 12:38 am |

      Fair enough, but as someone who’s worked with a lot of kids, while many/most of them have such rigid gender roles, there’s a huge difference between a kid who’s been confronted with a gender conundrum and a kid throwing this level of epic shitfit over a woman wearing boots. Like…seriously, until I was 18ish I never met another short-haired pants-wearing woman who lived in my district, and a LOT of kids were utterly confused by 6yo buzz-cut-having pants/dress wearing me, but the ones who freaked out loudly or had more than a “huh. wtf. wev” reaction were the ones being treated like shit at home. It’s not the gendering that’s leading me to fisheye this kid’s caregivers, it’s the extent of her *distress*.

    2. dawn
      dawn March 2, 2013 at 1:22 am |

      *even if that is not what is being modeled for them*

      While I agree, I feel that the nature of the interaction as described by the author (i.e. the girl’s behaviour/response to the author/teacher), suggests the girl’s belief system is being reinforced by someone/something, and is not being moderated but left to fester.

    3. tigtog
      tigtog March 2, 2013 at 3:12 am | *

      That’s very encouraging to know, monkeypedia. It’s so long since my own kids were this small that I’ve forgotten how quickly they can pick up an idea and apply it as a rigid rule even though that’s not how anybody presented it.

    4. Echo Zen
      Echo Zen March 2, 2013 at 6:15 am |

      I don’t even have the heart to crack a joke about this. Even the most tradition-steeped kids I know have reacted to seeing women in “boy” clothing by giving weird stares, glares or declaratory comments about how said woman wore the wrong clothes. I’ve never known one to attack a woman for wearing boots. Lord knows her brainwashed skull would explode if she saw Bug Bunny cross-dressing in old “Looney Tunes” episodes.

    5. Henry
      Henry March 3, 2013 at 11:22 pm |

      no way monkey, it’s clearly the parents who must be pilloried here by the pop-psychology methodology of our very own peanut gallery. It is always the parent(s)’ fault – always. That’s basic American culture: kid does bad thing = faulty parenting.

      For example, we all know Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents taught and encouraged him to eat human flesh. Where else could he learn such bad habits :P

      I think the teacher should use it as a discussion point, perhaps bring in a sampling of men and women with different careers.

  15. pitbullgirl65
    pitbullgirl65 March 2, 2013 at 12:44 am |

    Or maybe she’s a brat? YMMV

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:27 am |

      Or maybe you don’t realise how abused kids lash out? YMMV

    2. amblingalong
      amblingalong March 2, 2013 at 2:21 am |

      Or maybe she’s a brat? YMMV

      Just to be clear, you’re referring to the three-year-old child here?

    3. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 8:19 am |

      Uh, wow, she’s a three year old kid.

      It’s utterly developmentally normal for three year old’s to throw tantrums and freak out. That isn’t to say that it’s desireable behavior, or behavior that one wants to reinforce or encourage. It’s the job of parents and teachers of children that age to teach them how to express and deal with their emotions in a way that is more respectful of others and not so disruptive to the environment around them. Clearly, this kid is still mid-learning how to navigate her way.

      I agree that the story is sad and appalling in so many different ways, but calling a child that is barely out of infancy a brat says a whole lot more about your own ignorance than it does about the character or upbringing of this three year old child.

      Mileage not varying, in this particular case.

      1. karak
        karak March 2, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

        I fully believe it’s possible for a three year old child to be a spoiled little brat. It’s possible she’s just mad anyone would dare contradict her princess self and always physically lashes out at people.

        I had a three year old cousin that was a horrible brat. Luckily, she grew out of it into a sweet pre-adolescent, became a horrible brat again in her teens, and now is a great young adult. Brattiness strikes at any time.

  16. dawn
    dawn March 2, 2013 at 1:07 am |

    Actually this little girl scares me. She scares me because of the far reaching implications of her beliefs and behaviour. She just happens to be more vocal than others who hold the same beliefs.

    People have a tendency to brush off this kind of thing, minimise it etc, as being one little girl acting inappropriately. I can imagine the focus being on her behaviour (rather than beliefs), because everyone is allowed to believe what they want, right? Even when they don’t have a choice in the matter (i.e. formative years), and when they might be influencing others who are also in their formative years (other kids).

    If this girl is strongly attached to a parent or caregiver who reinforces these beliefs, she’s unlikely to listen to anyone who suggests an alternate view anyway (thus the article author and teacher repeated theirs in vain). ‘My mom/dad/grandparent/imaginary friend/pet hamster says that girls are supposed to wear pretty clothes and smile’ (complete with unstated implication).

    Anyone who offers the argument that the girl might grow out of it and change views later on – I don’t buy that. She might grow out of the inappropriate behaviour. However, the author’s description of the situation suggests the girl’s belief system is already well established.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:20 am |

      Yep. Not to mention, hello, bully in the making. Little kids like this, however much I might feel sorry for them, disproportionately represent the older kids who make MY kid’s life hell. So, you know, all the sympathy for the kid in question, all the rage for the caregivers who’ve fed that kid all the shit she’s internalised, but also, eventually, eh… the hell with that. If you have time to give a kid seventy zillion Gender Rules you have the time to give it Manners 101 while you’re at it.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:26 am |

        That said, I am 100% sure that this kid is being emotionally fucked with by caregivers. Beyond 100%. It doesn’t have to be abuse to produce this – though it probably is and I would eat my hat if this kid weren’t being at least mildly emotionally abused – but it’s definitely Emotional Fucking With that produces this level of…it’s a triggered response, not an annoyed one. I recognise it. And I feel sorry as fuck that there’s another generation growing up with it.

        1. dawn
          dawn March 2, 2013 at 1:51 am |

          It doesn’t have to be abuse to produce this

          Yes. The common (and highly frustrating) perception that abuse has to be overt/tangible in order to be ‘real’.

        2. yes
          yes March 3, 2013 at 6:30 am |

          I admire your ability to flawlessly diagnose the underlying causes of human behavior based on second-hand information of a single incident with virtually no context in a developing brain that you have no information about. It must be a burden to have such a unique gift.

        3. Henry
          Henry March 3, 2013 at 11:40 pm |

          100% – are you sure? you all have degrees in child psych now? it’s a possibility, it’s also possible this belief comes from any number of sources, including television, or seeing a predominantly male army (84.3%) in person or any of the other possibilities stated upthread. 300 word post turns into diagnosis of child abuse, only here. This place becomes more fascist the day. Better check which way mom hangs the toilet paper while we are at it.

          In a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily”, the children are confiscated by Child Protective Services, who hand Marge a note citing her home as a “squalid hellhole” where the toilet paper is “hung in improper overhand fashion”.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_paper_orientation

      2. dawn
        dawn March 2, 2013 at 1:39 am |

        Not to mention, hello, bully in the making

        I agree. And I’m glad you said that, because I was going to include in my response above that I imagine when this girl gets older, her taunting other kids who look/dress/act in non-traditional ways. I excluded it because I was afraid someone might accuse me of stereotyping (I don’t believe I am in this instance – this girl screams red flags).

        all the sympathy for the kid in question

        I find this disturbing – the shift towards the people at the receiving end of someone’s toxic behaviour etc, being expected to pretty much excuse their awful behaviour because they also suffered at some point (and so it’s not really their fault). I’m not talking about not forgiving them or continuing to hold a grudge, because you can forgive and still not like someone or their actions. Sorry doesn’t make everything OK again.

        At some point these people will need to take full responsibility for their actions or they will remain the same – their toxicity is just expressed differently. Does that make sense?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:48 am |

          being expected to pretty much excuse their awful behaviour because they also suffered at some point (and so it’s not really their fault)

          I’m actually explicitly not excusing her behaviour. I just don’t think that excusing someone’s shitty behaviour and refusing to see the causative factors for that behaviour and the trauma those factors might inflict are mutually exclusive. I resent the shit out of, and will probably never forgive, and would slap someone suggesting I excuse the things my grandmother said and did to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorry for the abuse and trauma she herself suffered as a child. Ditto this kid.

          And I’m kind of concerned for evil_fizz’s kid, frankly, because I can easily see this kid bullying her for having a mom who “doesn’t dress right”.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:50 am |

          *NOT refusing, jesus >.<

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:51 am |

          And also not excusing. Because WOW I have the fail today.

        4. dawn
          dawn March 2, 2013 at 1:56 am |

          I’m actually explicitly not excusing her behaviour

          Apologies – Please forgive any inference that you were. I was generally speaking, not referring to you. It is clear you weren’t.

        5. Colin
          Colin March 2, 2013 at 2:28 am |

          I find this disturbing – the shift towards the people at the receiving end of someone’s toxic behaviour etc, being expected to pretty much excuse their awful behaviour because they also suffered at some point (and so it’s not really their fault).

          If it were a teenager, or even worse an adult behaving this way, I’d agree. But there’s only so much you can blame a 3-4 year-old kid for anything they do. That’s not condoning the bad behaviour as such. It needs to be countered, but a punitive approach is not always the way to do so.

          I find it interesting that (AFAICT) the teacher never contradicted the girl’s sexist beliefs, just told her she shouldn’t yell.

        6. dawn
          dawn March 2, 2013 at 4:08 am |

          But there’s only so much you can blame a 3-4 year-old kid for anything they do. That’s not condoning the bad behaviour as such. It needs to be countered, but a punitive approach is not always the way to do so.

          Hi Colin – I was speaking generally, not specifically about this situation and the three year old girl. As in, the general shift in society to request that people who are subjected to X, Y, or Z behaviour, show empathy towards a perpetrator because of A, B, or C.

          However. One of the problems with not holding someone accountable at three years old may very well lead to someone who continues to deny accountability throughout life. The three year old’s behaviour as described is pretty freaking bad and perhaps unlikely to be an isolated example. Though without the parents there to see it first hand I wonder if anything would be done about it.

        7. EG
          EG March 2, 2013 at 5:28 am |

          One of the problems with not holding someone accountable at three years old may very well lead to someone who continues to deny accountability throughout life.

          I’d like to see some evidence for that. There’s all kind of behavior I have sympathy for and don’t hold people accountable for when they’re three; I was cut similar slack at the age of three. But nonetheless, now that I’m 37, I, for instance, control my temper, and the girls I took care of at that age are now at perfectly appropriate developmental places for 10-13.

      3. Radiant Sophia
        Radiant Sophia March 2, 2013 at 2:05 am |

        Mac, I am really glad you said this.
        When I read this, I tried to conjure sympathy for the girl who has those attitudes. I really did. She was quite possibly abused. I really doubt she developed those toxic attitudes on her own.

        All I could think of, however, was getting bullied as a child by other children exactly like that.

    2. amblingalong
      amblingalong March 2, 2013 at 2:23 am |

      I don’t know- there’s an age at which I’d start to agree with you, but for me that age is pretty significantly past three years old.

      YMMV, of course, and I wasn’t bullied as a kid so I only have a partial perspective, but I think three is awfully young to start treating kids as fully responsible for their behavior.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 8:35 am |

        but I think three is awfully young to start treating kids as fully responsible for their behavior.

        I agree that three is waaaayy too young to treat a child as 100% fully responsible for their own behavior. Three year old’s often are still learning the basics of how to talk, toilet train, and even feed themselves with utensils (hey, my 7yos are still figuring out how to use a fork properly.) As to the minefield that is dealing with one’s own emotions, that is still vastly underdeveloped at that age, as is the capacity to empathize with others. I’m quite confident there are posters here who know fully grown adults who have ever learned how to empathize or deal with their emotions properly, so expecting that much from such a young child makes absolutely no sense.

        I’m far from giving this child a pass on the way she behaved, I’ve been scanning the comments to get to the bottom in order to post something addressing it directly and have been struck by the comments blaming this very young child and labeling her as a brat and bully.

        It may be possible that she’s on her way to becoming a bully if she doesn’t have parents and teachers who teach her how to behave and deal with her emotions in a more proper manner. But being an actual bully? I’m not willing to dole out that moniker until she is much older.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 8:51 am |

          Bahh, that should read fully grown adults who have never learned.

          Sorry for the serial posting, everyone.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |

          Erm, Lola, I hate to disagree, but I’m the only person who even mentioned bullying, and I only called her one in the making. And if you don’t think seven-year-olds or six-year-olds can be bullies, I honestly don’t know what to say other than…I’ve worked with dozens if not hundreds of 6-8yo kids and yes, actually, they can be bullies. Hell, I was one, if not violently so. And I don’t know how else to describe screaming at a total stranger and stomping on their feet for their clothing choices other than as policing behaviour, which frankly is the beginning of bullying. I have all the sympathy in the world for what’s going on in her life; I didn’t think pointing out that such behaviours are correlated with bullying in later life was, you know, painting her scarlet and accusing her of murder as much as…fact?

        3. EG
          EG March 2, 2013 at 9:31 am |

          It seems to me–and correct me on this, mac, if I’m wrong, because I don’t have the professional experience you do–that a key part of being a bully is knowing how to direct your policing behavior at people with no power or recourse against you. And that this little girl doesn’t seem to have that power of discrimination. Yet. Or she does, and either doesn’t care about the distinction or was so upset that she lost track of it. I think of bullies as more in control than that, though I may well be wrong.

          That said, I don’t think you and Lola are really disagreeing; you said she was a bully in the making and Lola said she could become a bully if adults don’t teacher her how to handle her emotions better. Those sound like the same thing to me, honestly.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 9:38 am |

          . And that this little girl doesn’t seem to have that power of discrimination. Yet. Or she does, and either doesn’t care about the distinction or was so upset that she lost track of it.

          See, and that’s why I’m so convinced that something’s fucked up in this kid’s life. It’s not necessarily the parents; it could be grandparents, or a bullying friend(!), or a horrible religious figure. Or hell, even one of those daycare teachers (what the hell, how did they not break this situation up? In what universe is it okay to let a child in your care stomp and yell at someone else? Especially when you’re paying enough attention to know it’s going on). Which is why I’ve been careful to say “caregivers” or “people raising” all through. The level of upset is just too fucking much; like I said elsewhere, this reads to me like a triggered response, not a normal one. Which makes me really sad.

          That said, I don’t think you and Lola are really disagreeing;

          I don’t think so either; but I don’t think Lola perceives it that way, and that’s what I was speaking to.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 9:39 am |

          ETA: And yeah, some level of yelling and even stomping is normal. The kid’s a 3-4yo, ffs. They all yell sometimes.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |

          Thanks for clarifying, EF. That probably rules them out, then.

          My greater point about the community still stands, I feel. Kids can wind up fucked over from any quarter. I’ve known wonderful parents cursed with suck-ass parents of their own who made the very reasonable assumption that their kids would be physically/emotionally safe with them, and were rewarded by awfulness happening to the kid. I’ve known lovely families who did some awful things to each other Because Religion. I’ve known kids with none of the above issues who STILL got fucked over and traumatised because the 13yo next door was a violent bully who liked kicking little kids for shits and giggles. It’s not just the mother; it’s statistically as likely to be ANYONE involved in raising that kid.

        7. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 10:02 am |

          Mac, I never, ever said anything about 7yos not being capable of bullying (not using a fork properly, absolutely!) I was specifically addressing behavior that is normal, from a developmental perspective, for a 3yo child to exhibit. Please go back and read what I wrote, because we aren’t really disagreeing here much.

          My point is that a 3yo is still very young, and has little, if any frame or reference as to how to express emotions properly or how to deal with them in a way considered appropriate by us adults. It’s also absolutely developmentally normal for a 3yo to lack sufficient impulse control and flail around or even act out with hitting or stomping.

          Now before people jump all over me for saying these things are developmentally normal, I’ve also been explicitly clear that developmentally normal behavior does not equal acceptable behavior. And I’ve stated at least twice already that is the job of both parents and teachers of little kids in the age range of 2-5 how to deal with their emotions properly and moderate their conduct in a socially acceptable manner. But that’s a process that takes time. It rarely, if ever, happens the first time a correction is made that a child will immediately stop “bad” behavior and cease to repeat it again. Preschool is at least 80% teaching proper socialization skills to little children, as is parenting that age range.

          It’s very damaging to label a 3yo as a bully and conclude that the behavior in question is set for life. If left unchecked, yes, bad behavior can continue into adulthood. But children at such a young age are absolutely capable of being taught how to behave in a kind, respectful and empathetic manner. Again, they must be taught to do so, with patience and understanding and perserverance by their caregivers.

        8. thinksnake
          thinksnake March 3, 2013 at 7:27 am |

          It’s very damaging to label a 3yo as a bully and conclude that the behavior in question is set for life.

          I don’t think anyone’s done that? Unless I missed something. All I’ve seen is mac saying this child could end up as a bully, if this sort of behaviour goes unchecked.

      2. Lizzie
        Lizzie March 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm |

        @PrettyAmiable,

        Please don’t act like this was a simple tantrum, she actually physically attacked an adult who is a stranger to her. I won’t assume she’s being abused because there are any number of reasons she might have acted out like this, but the incident goes just a bit beyond a mere tantrum. From what my family has said about me, I could have a tantrum like no other, and apparently I never met a stranger and would talk to anyone. With all of that even I would never have physically attacked someone I wasn’t very familiar with, especially an adult.

    3. ChariD
      ChariD March 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

      Yes, the physical assault launched at EF is what really disturbed me about this whole thing. As a child, even *if* I held tight to rigid ideas about anything (until I enlightened up), I’d never, ever, EVER have even considered physically attacking an adult. Would any of you? (outside of self-defense)

  17. Tamara
    Tamara March 2, 2013 at 4:35 am |

    Wow, definitely a shocking episode! My daughters are 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 and I agree with the statements above that rigid gender approaches are common at these ages. eg, that person (a woman) must be a man because she has short hair and trousers. My 3 1/2 yo is particularly going through a “pink” phase, which we have in no way encouraged.

    However, how strongly this child expressed her objections is beyond anything I’ve observed or heard of.

    1. AMM
      AMM March 2, 2013 at 7:15 am |

      However, how strongly this child expressed her objections is beyond anything I’ve observed or heard of.

      I’ve seen adults behave that strongly when presented with someone or something that threatens their preconceptions. So I don’t find it hard to believe that some 3-to-4-year-olds might do the same when presented with a threat to one of the few Laws of Reality that they’ve finally figured out.

      (Not that we are in a position to say that that’s what’s happening here.)

      1. Tamara
        Tamara March 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm |

        I’ve never seen an adult do something like this IRL. Maybe I’m sheltered?

        As others have pointed out though, it is also unusual for a child to have a tantrum at a strange adult.

  18. AMM
    AMM March 2, 2013 at 7:05 am |

    I’ve read the comments thread for this, and I actually find it more disturbing than the little girl’s behavior.

    Nobody in this thread (except possibly the OP) knows anything about the little girl’s family or home life. Nobody except the OP knows anything about the community. We know only a description of a brief bit of behavior. Yet an awful lot of people in this thread are willing to make harsh judgements about her parents, about her family life, and/or about her community.

    Face it: you don’t know what’s going on with this girl. You don’t know. And that’s the only right answer. All this speculation is just BS.

    But it’s harmful BS.

    When I became a parent, I discovered that everybody out there — not just family and friends, but strangers on the street — felt entitled to criticize how I was handling my kids and to blame me and my “bad parenting” anytime my kids didn’t behave the way they wanted them to. It didn’t matter what I did, or what my kids did, somebody was ready to jump out of the bushes and say “you’re a bad parent!” The idea that there might be more to the story, or that kids aren’t just mindless robots programmed each morning by their parents while they eat their Wheaties, never seems to entery most people’s heads.

    tl;dr: having kids gives everybody else a License to Judge You.
    (Obligatory feminist comment: doesn’t being female also do this?)

    The Feministe commenters who are ready to judge are simply mindlessly copying the example that society sets for them: if you don’t like what a kid is doing, speculate about what the parents must be doing wrong, so you can condemn them.

    (I’m jumping on Feministe because that’s where this thread is. But this crap goes on everywhere)

    1. igglanova
      igglanova March 2, 2013 at 9:20 am |

      Really? You think the prospect of parents being judged is more alarming than the behaviour cited in the OP? That’s a tad…melodramatic. The alternative to concern over that kid’s home environment is turning a blind eye to potential signs of abuse. I’d rather piss off a legion of parents for being too judgey than let a case of abuse slip by unquestioned.

    2. ellid
      ellid March 2, 2013 at 9:25 am |

      I agree with Evil Fizz – it’s not so much the reaction of “no, girls don’t do that” as the idea of an otherwise well dressed, well groomed little girl calling an adult a liar and then attacking her. I’ve seen little kids freak out over things, but reacting that way to an unrelated adult (or *any* adult, for that matter) doesn’t seem normal.

      Also, EF was there and saw how the child reacted. None of us can say the same. Given that, her perceptions of what happened should probably be taken seriously, don’t you think?

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |

      Yet an awful lot of people in this thread are willing to make harsh judgements about her parents, about her family life, and/or about her community.

      Yes, because “people, especially tiny people with undeveloped cognitive abilities, are more likely to reflect the world around them than come up with incredibly rigid and clear rules on their own” is SUCH an unfeminist concept. I suppose you’d rather say the kid’s just a causelessly shitty person and leave it like that?

      The Feministe commenters who are ready to judge are simply mindlessly copying the example that society sets for them: if you don’t like what a kid is doing, speculate about what the parents must be doing wrong, so you can condemn them.

      You’re absolutely right. Evil_fizz should have blamed Osama bin Laden; it’s what ALL the good feminist Murkans do, dontcha know.

      1. trees
        trees March 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

        Nobody in this thread (except possibly the OP) knows anything about the little girl’s family or home life. Nobody except the OP knows anything about the community. We know only a description of a brief bit of behavior. Yet an awful lot of people in this thread are willing to make harsh judgements about her parents, about her family life, and/or about her community.

        Yes, I agree, this comment thread is disturbing.

        @macavitykitsune

        That said, I am 100% sure that this kid is being emotionally fucked with by caregivers. Beyond 100%.

        You couldn’t know this. You don’t know this child, you don’t know her personality, her idiosyncrasies, or the particulars of her neurological make-up.

        I endured severe abuse as a child. I didn’t act out, in fact, many thought me a perfect angel. Even today, I’ve very good at hiding my pain and performing to social expectation. So folks judging my home life and community based on my public behavior think I come from some sitcom model family. There’s no 1 to 1 correlation between children’s behavior and upbringing.

        1. EG
          EG March 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

          Right, but that’s a different question. My mother didn’t act out either. The issue isn’t “do all abused children act out in some way.” The issue is “is this particular form of acting out very likely to signal some kind of abuse.” The two things aren’t related.

        2. trees
          trees March 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

          @EG

          Right, but that’s a different question. My mother didn’t act out either. The issue isn’t “do all abused children act out in some way.” The issue is “is this particular form of acting out very likely to signal some kind of abuse.” The two things aren’t related.

          How do you know that this behavior likely signals abuse? I know kids with developmental issues who “act out” (as seen through the eyes of adults who know nothing of their neurological makeup) by biting, for example, who aren’t being abused.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm |

          Please keep my points in the context in which I was making them. I specifically said that it didn’t have to be abuse; that imbuing a child with deeply fucked-up notions of gender is enough to create this distress. Is that necessarily abuse? Nope. But it messes with one’s head, and warps one’s reactions.

          And speaking as the kid of two abused kids who were Little Angels, honestly, PLEASE don’t tell me the abuse doesn’t affect. Doesn’t express. It doesn’t have to be a negative expression – for example, I have no doubt that my father’s fierce need to provide for his family comes from his growing up dirt poor – but it does express. “Despite” and “because” are just two sides of the same coin.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:23 pm |

          To provide an example of what I mean by “emotionally fucked with” not being “abused” necessarily: my mother was/is a great believer in illnesses of the body being physical expressions of mental stress or having “bad thoughts”, and inculcated that notion very firmly in my little brain. It led to a lot of anxiety and fear and anger because I knew I was sick, but I didn’t feel like I was having bad thoughts, etc, etc. Once I disconnected the two, I experienced a huge drop in anxiety, because I wasn’t taking every moment of pain (and I’m usually in a fair amount) as an indication that I was being mentally impure or wishing others ill or being otherwise Ambiguously Bad. I am 100% sure my mother was not intending to fuck with my emotions, much less be abusive, but that’s the result.

        5. trees
          trees March 2, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

          @macavitykitsune

          And speaking as the kid of two abused kids who were Little Angels, honestly, PLEASE don’t tell me the abuse doesn’t affect. Doesn’t express.

          I have no idea how you don’t that impression from my comment; this couldn’t be further from my perspective! I’m saying that I was and am super fucked up, but the overwhelming majority of people never seem to notice this because of my ability to conform to social expectation. I cope with PTSD every single day for goodness sake.

          My beef is with your rush to judgement and with this statement in particular:

          That said, I am 100% sure that this kid is being emotionally fucked with by caregivers. Beyond 100%.

          You couldn’t possibly know this. Unless this child is being raised in some insular social vacuum, her influences may run the gamut. Hell, my toddler daughter learned curse words in languages not spoken in our home presumably from riding public transportation.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm |

          You couldn’t possibly know this. Unless this child is being raised in some insular social vacuum, her influences may run the gamut. Hell, my toddler daughter learned curse words in languages not spoken in our home presumably from riding public transportation.

          From the same thread, my comment: “Kids can wind up fucked over from any quarter. I’ve known wonderful parents cursed with suck-ass parents of their own who made the very reasonable assumption that their kids would be physically/emotionally safe with them, and were rewarded by awfulness happening to the kid. I’ve known lovely families who did some awful things to each other Because Religion. I’ve known kids with none of the above issues who STILL got fucked over and traumatised because the 13yo next door was a violent bully who liked kicking little kids for shits and giggles. It’s not just the mother; it’s statistically as likely to be ANYONE involved in raising that kid.”

          I do not define “caregivers” as simply “mom and dad in the True Christian way”. I also pointed to religious figures like priests or pastors, teachers, friends, neighbours, totally unrelated strangers who wind up in de facto “responsible” positions, like babysitters. Doesn’t matter where the kid’s getting these fucked-up ideas; it’s probably someone the kid regards as An Authority, was my point.

        7. trees
          trees March 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

          @macavitykitsune

          I do not define “caregivers” as simply “mom and dad in the True Christian way”. I also pointed to religious figures like priests or pastors, teachers, friends, neighbours, totally unrelated strangers who wind up in de facto “responsible” positions, like babysitters. Doesn’t matter where the kid’s getting these fucked-up ideas; it’s probably someone the kid regards as An Authority, was my point.

          Or maybe not a caregiver at all. (And just FYI, I was raised in a large extended family and my notions of who is a caregiver don’t have much to do with the True Christian Way) Or maybe this was her take away from some fairly innocuous image she saw on TV, maybe it’s how her brain works, maybe she didn’t have breakfast and is having a shitty day… I could keep going like this, but you probably get my point. It seems likely that it is a combination of factors. One single tantrum does not equal a sign of child abuse/neglect/harm.

        8. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable March 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm |

          mac, in this comment thread, you said this:

          It doesn’t have to be abuse to produce this – though it probably is and I would eat my hat if this kid weren’t being at least mildly emotionally abused – but it’s definitely Emotional Fucking With that produces this level of…it’s a triggered response, not an annoyed one.

          You literally bet that this kid was “at least mildly emotionally abused.” I’m note sure I understand what the issue is. The response you’re getting from trees is based on actual things you’ve written. I agree with zir – there’s absolutely not enough information to comment on whether or not this kid is abused, and I think it’s super shady that anyone would bet on it based on a one-off event that occurred devoid of any context for the kid.

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |

          maybe this was her take away from some fairly innocuous image she saw on TV, maybe it’s how her brain works, maybe she didn’t have breakfast and is having a shitty day…

          And like I said repeatedly, again, it’s not the nature of the tantrum but the intensity that threw me. Again, from my own comments: “It’s not the gendering that’s leading me to fisheye this kid’s caregivers, it’s the extent of her *distress*.”

          One single tantrum does not equal a sign of child abuse/neglect/harm.

          Ever wonder how many “single tantrums” which “do not equal” anything the average abused kid has in others’ eyes? I mean, it’s not like I didn’t act out and repeatedly point out things that were fucked up in my life. But they were all “single tantrums”, of course. Nothing that meant anything. Nope, nope. Just a kid being a kid. Nothing to see.

          Honestly, I think that around the time a child physically confronts a stranger-adult over boots is when people should start paying attention to what’s going on around her. Like I said, I feel certain that this kid is being emotionally fucked with. I didn’t say “this kid needs to be taken away from her parents!eleventy!patriarchy! or anything of the sort.” The solution might be as easy as whoever gave this kid the idea going “well, you know, that’s not the case all the time”. But if you’re all going to form the Nothing To See Here, Nothing At All Association, sure, go ahead. Just don’t blame us “judgmental” types when these kids grow up and turn around and direct that shit at you – or your kids! – next.

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm |

          You literally bet that this kid was “at least mildly emotionally abused.” I’m note sure I understand what the issue is.

          Probably. It’s right there in the sentence. It’s a word. That means things.

          But you know. Feel free to call me shady. That’s not a word that has abusive connotations at ALL.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm |

          PA,

          I clarified how I was using “emotionally fucked with” and “abused” in this context here: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2013/03/01/not-for-girls/#comment-610185

          It doesn’t have to be intentionally abusive behaviour for it to have results indistinguishable from abuse. And “emotional fucking with” can happen with the best of intentions ( “think positive!” being horribly interpreted by a disabled child).

        12. tigtog
          tigtog March 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm | *

          Philip Larkin had deeply cynically apt words about it.

          THIS BE THE VERSE

          They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
          They may not mean to, but they do.
          They fill you with the faults they had
          And add some extra, just for you.

          But they were fucked up in their turn
          By fools in old-style hats and coats,
          Who half the time were soppy-stern
          And half at one another’s throats.

          Man hands on misery to man.
          It deepens like a coastal shelf.
          Get out as early as you can,
          And don’t have any kids yourself.

        13. trees
          trees March 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm |

          @macavitykitsune

          But if you’re all going to form the Nothing To See Here, Nothing At All Association, sure, go ahead. Just don’t blame us “judgmental” types when these kids grow up and turn around and direct that shit at you – or your kids! – next.

          Seriously? Again, your interpretation couldn’t be less related to my actual perspective. A strong, or perhaps triggered reaction does not equal caregiver harm. Also, I’m not saying “Ain’t seen nothin’, ain’t saying nothin’” for shit’s sake! I don’t know, you could talk to the teacher, maybe talk to the parent. You could maybe first determine if there is in fact a pattern before jumping to a conclusion. Her behavior could be about any number of things, so you could go and find out.

        14. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm |

          I feel certain that this kid is being emotionally fucked with.

          I respect your take on this, and you may be right that this child is, at the very least, getting some messed up stuff at home. Honestly, I think that excessive, gendered policing of kids in and of itself is messed up and can mess with their heads. It’s also possible that she is being abused, emotionally or otherwise at home.

          I do want to send up a flag in the hopes that this discussion doesn’t go down the path of, violently acting out kid is a sign of abuse!, though. Because it is absolutely normal for kids in the 1-5yo range to lash out physically with hitting, pinching, kicking, biting, whatever, without it meaning that they are being abused. Really, my kids have done all of these things at one point or another, and we don’t do corporal punishment. It’s just kids who don’t know how to verbalize or deal with their anger, sadness or frustration and acting out physically as a result.

          And to get back on track, my initial take on this scenario was that it sounded to me as though this kid may be showing early signs of ADHD and/or SPD. Because kids with either or both of these conditions have an especially difficult time with emotional outbursts and poor impulse control. There still seems to be a perception out there that ADHD/SPD kids are always a hot mess and acting out, but that isn’t true. It’s the inability to control their words and actions, as well as a disordered perception of their environment and the people around them that often results in them acting out in ways like the one outlined in EF’s post.

          Then again, when all you have is a hammer everything tends to look like a nail. So I may very well be way off base here, I’m definitely willing to own that.

        15. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 2:42 pm |

          I don’t know, you could talk to the teacher, maybe talk to the parent. You could maybe first determine if there is in fact a pattern before jumping to a conclusion.

          Trees, that’s exactly what I recommended evil fizz do upthread!!! Along with keeping an eye on her own kid in case the other kid decides to tell her to tell her mother how to behave. I think it is a bad, bad idea for one parent to talk to another about things that happened where only one parent was there. It makes for hostility and they-said-I-said. A teacher-mediated conversation might be good. But if the kid IS being very strongly gender policed by her parent(s) they probably wouldn’t want to do much about it and think evil fizz a busybody or something. Talking to the teachers is the best bet, and keeping her own daughter safe. I didn’t recommend calling CPS or anything of the sort.

          (With a caveat that the teachers might not be able to do much because teachers. Seriously, unless the kid’s being physically or sexually abused or at least neglected – neither of which I have any information about in this context, and so can’t speak to – the teacher is pretty much powerless. You can’t really take “the kid says her uncle says mean things when he comes over for sports night” to CPS, you know what I mean?)

          For the rest, my personal convictions are that – mine, a random internet person. They might shape how I see what the kid did, but not what I do about it. I’m not quite as fucking stupid as that. And I’d rather act from restrained paranoia and compassion than not act at all, personally.

        16. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm |

          Lola, like I said, it doesn’t even have to be at home. And again, it doesn’t have to be abuse or even manipulative to cause weird trips and stumbles in a kid’s brain.

          Honestly, it’s not the violence that makes me think the kid’s being fucked with, it’s what’s causing it. If evil fizz had written about the kid doing the exact same things because, say, the kid wanted to look at evil fizz’s briefcase and evil fizz didn’t let her, my reaction would have been “lol, so been there”. It’s the distress over gender nonconformity, and the *extent* of it. That kid was deeply distressed, way too distressed. It’s possible that she’s got some ASD and that’s why boots tripped her so hard, but I dunno. It sounds like she was cumulatively distressed by the jacket. Most ASD orotherwise developmentally disabled kids I know would have flipped out hardest the very first time and gotten progressively more comfortable (at varying rates, of course).

        17. trees
          trees March 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          @macavitykitsune

          For the rest, my personal convictions are that – mine, a random internet person. They might shape how I see what the kid did, but not what I do about it. I’m not quite as fucking stupid as that. And I’d rather act from restrained paranoia and compassion than not act at all, personally.

          Fine. And I also have a perspective and am not ignorant about these issues. I’m also deeply committed to supporting children and am pretty action oriented.

        18. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable March 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

          Honestly, even that makes little sense to me. It seems like everyone would probably agree with these two points:

          Small child throwing a tantrum: totally normal. Kids throw tantrums.

          Small child having rigid views of gender roles: totally normal. Kids generalize the shit out of the world to try to make sense of it.

          Then we get to the combination of the two, and suddenly there are warning signs and it’s a problem and where neither of the other issues warrant a big discussion with the parent or teacher, the two together do. And this kid is a possible bully in the making, according to one thread. I absolutely do not get the logic.

        19. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

          It’s the distress over gender nonconformity, and the *extent* of it.

          Hmm, I see where you’re going with this.

          ASD is also a possibility, you’re correct about that. ASD kids can tend to be extremely literal at that age. If they have in their head boys are this and girls are that, then it will not compute to be met with a refutation of their extreme premise.

          We’ve certainly been side-eyed and called out in private and in public aplenty about our ADHD/SPD kid’s volative behavior. When he gets upset, he still can’t regulate his behavior and calm down like a NT person would. He often needs to be coached through it to breathe and let go. He also has no concept of strangers (we’re still working on it, and it truly scares the crap out of me) so he has zero compunction with going up to total and complete strangers and talking to them. His SPD also means that he doesn’t experience sensory input like touch the way most NT people do, so his plowing into someone is perceived by him as a tiny little bumping into. More than once he’s doled out hugs to total strangers while giving them his life story while I’m madly dashing across the playground to try and intercede.

          Maybe that’s why I’m not hitting the freak out button too hard on this. Having a non-NT kid makes me react a lot less harshly to other kids less than desireable behavior.

        20. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 3:22 pm |

          Then we get to the combination of the two, and suddenly there are warning signs and it’s a problem and where neither of the other issues warrant a big discussion with the parent or teacher, the two together do.

          Okay, so, from a teacherly perspective, here’s what trips me about the situation despite my agreement on your point #1 and my partial agreement on point #2:

          1) The kid acted out at a stranger adult. Now, YMMV obviously but most neurotypical kids in safe environments act out either at their “own” adults (caregivers, adult friend-type people like friends of parents) or at people their own age.

          2) Kids have less rigid gender roles than most people like to think. I grew up totally non-conformist in a totally non-conformist family in a fundamentalist area of rural India and believe me, it wasn’t the little kids having freakouts about my clothing! Sure, they thought it was odd, and I got asked if I was a boy or girl, and some of them giggled their asses off at me for wearing pants, and once I got a haircut after letting it grow out and one little kid burst into tears, but still. It’s not the distress over gender roles being violated, it’s the aggressive response to it that trips me off.

          3) The nature of the distress. If it were a question of gender role violation, most kids would bring it up immediately or close to immediately. The fact that the kid flipped out while only saying “girls can’t wear that” not “girls don’t wear that” tells me it’s that the kid’s been told what girls CAN and CANNOT wear as opposed to DO and DO NOT wear. Which speaks of policing.

          And this kid is a possible bully in the making, according to one thread.

          You don’t think that a kid willing to act aggressively with a strange adult (who is bigger, stronger, physically intimidating to a 3yo) in order to police a deeply felt vision of gender would be inclined, if unchecked and left without assistance or processing, to do the same to a weaker or more isolated peer in four or five years? How is the connection murky?

        21. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm |

          He also has no concept of strangers (we’re still working on it, and it truly scares the crap out of me) so he has zero compunction with going up to total and complete strangers and talking to them.

          God, Lola, that must be terrifying. I’m so sorry you have to worry about that. I used to think strangers were family because I have issues telling people apart by appearance, and I know it scared my parents half to death every time I wandered off because I saw “dad” somewhere he really wasn’t.

        22. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |

          I absolutely do not get the logic.

          1) Bears exist. 2) I have a living room.

          3) There are bears in my living room.

        23. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable March 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

          1) Bears exist. 2) I have a living room.

          3) There are bears in my living room.

          So the bears are a danger to you? Fine. I agree that a kid throwing a tantrum about gender norms could be dangerous to EF. No argument there.

          Now the bear in your living room – can you tell me something empirical about the bear? Was it abused? Did someone eat its porridge? Because this is the massive failure in logic that I don’t get.

          But honestly, I can’t see how we’d ever agree since it seems we disagree with the two arguments I thought were common ground – i.e. that it’s normal to have tantrums and it’s normal to have rigid gender constructions at that age.

    4. A4
      A4 March 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |

      This is unfair. Most of the speculation here is not geared towards condemnation, but geared towards considering all of the contributing factors for this behavior with the implication that this consideration is required before any plan for addressing the behavior can be created.

    5. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable March 2, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

      Nobody in this thread (except possibly the OP) knows anything about the little girl’s family or home life. Nobody except the OP knows anything about the community. We know only a description of a brief bit of behavior. Yet an awful lot of people in this thread are willing to make harsh judgements about her parents, about her family life, and/or about her community.

      Yeah – I’m on the same page. Apparently young children who aren’t emotionally fucked up never have tantrums about stupid shit.

      1. karak
        karak March 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

        I think it’s worth giving a heads-up about. If the girl is just having an off day, her parents need to know so they can reinforce boundaries, talk to her about hitting, maybe ask her to apologize to OP for yelling/stomping.

        It could be a sign of ADD, or allergies–I was a very irritable child and prone to tantrums for both these reasons, and by non-judgmentally informing my mother of my tantrums, the before and after, she was able to pinpoint my troubled times. One of mine was actually transition, like going home from preschool, were I would melt down, and maybe this girl needs a procedure for transition to not melt down.

        Lastly, it could be a sign of ANY kind of home instability. Her mom could have just had a new baby boy and being “Big Girl Sister” might be SO BIG that she needs that absolute identity to deal with changes. It could be a move, a divorce, or even abuse or just general home weirdness.

        I had a very emotionally healthy life at home, and I punched another kid off a bike. Why? Because I was four, that’s why.

  19. Wendy_Smith_III
    Wendy_Smith_III March 2, 2013 at 8:55 am |

    You know even if the kid’s parents are the most fundamentalist conservative gender/heteronormative people on the planet, there’s a good chance that they still wouldn’t want their daughter yelling at and stomping on an adult woman. Focusing on the behavior, rather than the reasons/ideology behind it, may make the parents more receptive. Granted, it doesn’t address the underlying problem, but it would keep the girl from making a scene and upsetting other kids. If the parents aren’t that conservative, it would also give them the opportunity to address the issue.

  20. timberwraith
    timberwraith March 2, 2013 at 10:30 am |

    Having had to endure years of physical and emotional abuse from other children as a trans kid (1st through 7th grade), I’m not at all surprised. I don’t know what this particular child’s home life is like, but I can assure you that children easily become little monsters when someone doesn’t obey conformist notions around sex and gender. This is a small taste of the kind of ugliness that sex and gender non-normative kids endure every day, across the world.

    Sadly, the abuse only stopped when I pushed my true self under and pretended to be like other kids.

    1. EG
      EG March 2, 2013 at 10:38 am |

      I think that’s what makes this so bizarre. It is depressingly common for kids to police each other brutally. It is, in my experience, less so for a kid to be so freaked out by the existence of a non-conforming adult that she loses her shit and attacks the adult. If EF had been reporting that this little girl made fun of EF’s daughter because EF wore non-gender-conforming clothing, I’d think “Sad but fucking typical.” This seems…weird, though.

      1. timberwraith
        timberwraith March 2, 2013 at 11:34 am |

        I get what you’re saying EG. However, I only find the level of intensity to be unusual as opposed to the more general notion of a kid policing an adult.

        As an adult, I’ve been policed by kids—not as vehemently as this child, but I’ve certainly been policed. I’m sure other queer adults can share stories of kids gender policing of them, too (especially trans adults).

        I’d guess that the more a stranger’s behavior or presentation differs from the expected norm, the more a person—child or adult—will be likely to police the other person. Sadly, we’re still living in a society (here in the US) where a portion of the public looses it when they think of women in the military. It’s still perceived as a strong departure from expected gender norms.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think this kid’s reaction is awful and the intensity of her reaction probably points toward the kid being abused in some way. It’s just that, given the awful stuff I’ve witnessed in life, I’m like, “Oh yeah. That kind of stuff happens.”

        1. EG
          EG March 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

          Agreed on all counts. I have certainly seen children policing adults; it’s just that I would expect something more along the lines of “Nuh-uh, my mom says that girls shouldn’t do that!” and less along the lines of what sounds like a panicked freak-out. You’re right; it’s the intensity and what sounds like the…distress of the child (rather than, say, confusion or dismissal) that makes this stick out.

          But I guess I hadn’t realized how unusual women in the military were still seen by many people.

        2. timberwraith
          timberwraith March 2, 2013 at 2:17 pm |

          EG, I’m thinking of the conservative freak-out that just happened over women being allowed into combat. I think there’s still a segment of the public that very much believes in the notion of the military being the proper role of men rather than women. Plus, considering that media images of the military still lean pretty hard toward treating it as “men’s space”, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were kids who didn’t understand that women are very much a part of the institution, too.

    2. Kristen from MA
      Kristen from MA March 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm |

      The first thing that came to mind is, that kid may be trans herself. I don’t know a lot about child development (no kids and psych 101 was a long time ago), but maybe she got mad at the sight of a woman wearing things that she was firmly told are only for boys (men)? Was acting out some kind of jealosy?

      Or am I out in left field here?

  21. Scissors
    Scissors March 2, 2013 at 10:36 am |

    Obviously someone has been hard at work enforcing negative gender stereotypes. Whoever it is, shame on them for limiting this young girl’s options and probably intsilling self-esteem issues from such an early age. I hope one day your little girl can fly an airplane if she wants to. Keep on doing a good job. The teacher should note this incident and try and reverse the damage as diplomatically as possible by showing students that both men and women are capable of doing these jobs.

    I know through personal experience how crucial a teachers intervention can be when parents are messing up – albeit sometimes unknowingly. I had strong female role models as a child and majority of them were ”mere” teachers.I can think of times where if certain teachers had not intervened I probably would have dropped out of school or not have proceeded this far ( I have a Masters degree).

    We had an amazing teacher in elementary school. When we were around 9,10,11,12 [around the age girls reach puberty] she called an impromptu meeting for girls and told us everything. And I mean EVERYTHING!! My parents hadn’t told me this stuff – probably waiting until I was older – and were probably secretly satisfied that someone else did it. At the time it seemed so trivial but I realise now that Iit was the right time to have that talk and to this day I’m thankful. Teachers play an important role in a child’s life. Let’s just hope it’s not this teacher who is enforcing those beliefs.You may need her help in more ways than you know.

  22. Anna
    Anna March 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

    The first bully I ever met was a girl named Jennifer in preschool. The yard had a little playhouse on it, and the unspoken rule was that it was for girls only. Yeah, in hindsight I see that “rule” as pretty terrible for a number of reasons, but it got worse.

    Another girl in our class came to school with a short haircut, and when it was playtime and all of us girl were in the playhouse, the girl with short hair followed us in. At which time Jennifer pitched a gigantic fit about how it was for girls only, and this other girl had short hair and therefore wasn’t a girl. “You’re a BOY,” she kept insisting. She was physically trying to keep this girl out of the playhouse. I remember standing up to Jennifer on behalf of the other girl, but other than that can’t recall how it was resolved.

    But I remember thinking Jennifer was “mean,” and looking back I recognize her general behavior as bullying. I have often wondered what became of her — did the bullying behaviors become more entrenched or did she grow out of them?

  23. karak
    karak March 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm |

    I’d suggest talking to the school because she yelled and hit a parent. Not a “I want to get this kid in trouble” kind of way, but asking the teachers to keep an eye on it. I’d also be wary about making the gender role issue a major topic, because if that is something she learned at home, stressing her out more about it would not be helpful.

    I didn’t hit as a child, but I had massive, alarming temper tantrums, and most of the advice my mother got was along the lines of, “smack the kid and teach her manners”. This was unhelpful, because it put my mom on the defense and didn’t give her any helpful ways to explore what was going on with me and why.

    Turned out I merely had severe ADD and was constantly stressed and over-stimulated. Moderate behavior therapy combined with medication really helped my behavior and helped structure my inner world.

  24. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm |

    So I was just at the local baby gear megastore buying a gift for my pregnant SIL, and I now totally get why this little kid was so overly upset over her mind being blown at EF’s non-gender conforming, military dress.

    Because during my sidetrack attempt to find some onesies for my 1yo I was absolutely struck dumb at my utter inability to find anything that didn’t have some sort of stupid, gendered message printed on it. All of them were sold in sets of 3 or 4, and I was literally unable to purchase a set that didn’t have stuff like “daddy’s little hero” or “mommy’s little monster” or “chicks dig me!” and even “here comes trouble” printed on at least one of them.

    I then went and perused the onesies marketed for little girls, and in addition to it being a riot of pink, I was again beset by all sorts of ridiculously gendered messages printed on all the outfits and onesies. Stuff like “mommy’s little angel” and “daddy’s little princess” or “world’s biggest diva!” and even “sweet and sassy!” was printed on onesies and dresses and even on the bottoms of little skirts and pants. I ended up making a bit of spectacle of myself after I couldn’t help remarking out loud to my toddler that it was ridiculous that I could not find one piece of clothing for himself or his future cousin that didn’t say something stupid on it.

    I can only imagine how a more insecure kid could over-internalize all of those overly gendered messages. Add in all of the gendered expectations that people put on little kids starting pretty much from birth and it’s a minefield for any kid. Dolls and play kitchens are for girls only, as is the color pink and purple! Trucks and cars and trains and sports are for boys only, as is the color blue!

    It sucks, and I hate having to raise kids in this kind of world.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune March 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm |

      Yeah, at least you’re not seeing padded bikinis for your 9yo girl. -_- We hate clothes shopping because every trip through Walmart leaves us frothing over something or the other that’s being marketed to kids. And YES, the horrible boys’ clothing! It’s not even varied! FFS, boys have personalities too!

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm |

        padded bikinis for your 9yo girl

        Once again, I feel a need for that emoticon of the women running in circles in horror with her head on fire…

        We really, really try to not put gendered expecations on our kids in any way. We try to give them clothes that do not contain sayings or have messages written on them, and we don’t police colors either, and we let them play with whatever they want to play with. They had a play kitchen and loved it, as they did blocks and now the ubiquitous legos. Our almost 3yo has a babydoll that he adores and sleeps with and drags around the house, as well as a sometime affinity for the brightest shade of fuschia pink there is. Sometimes he asks me to put my makeup or nailpolish on him, and I humor him because I see no need to make it a fight.

        But now that the twins are in elementary school they are starting to bring home some woppers when it comes to gendered expectations, and I can only assume they are getting them from classmates. Only boys can be sports stars! and only girls can have long hair! girls only like the color pink! boys are supposed to fight with each other! We tell them what we always have, that there isn’t really anything off limit to either boys or girls. But I hate that we have to deprogram them, and I hate the idea that they are being told what they must be or not be in order to be acceptable to society. I just want them to be themselves, although I wouldn’t mind it if that was minus the snippy attitude that starts to creep in in mid-adolescence…

        1. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah March 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm |

          @Lolagirl: I’m right there with ya! I’m glad we are talking about this! My son and daughter (5 and 2) are actually kind of confused about at this point and are always asking questions and saying things like, “But CAN I have long hair?” [son...the answer was "Absolutely, if you will let me detangle it and moisturize without screaming and running away...so...not at this point in your life, apparently..."] and “I’m a girl? Daddy is a woman?” [daughter] and “I want to be a girl because I’m brown and girls are always peach and I like being brown.” [son...and this statement led to a very confusing conversation where we discussed all of wha?? in what he said] Kids are getting messages from all over the place and, probably, from me and my spouse as well, even if its unintentional.

          I do find, however, that in our community where people are more apt to let kids choose their own clothes and play with all sorts of toys, kids are much less strict about gender norms. At least, I have seen that the BOYS in our community are less strict about gender norms. No big deal if they wear pink or play with dolls, house area, love Tinkerbell, paint their nails (my son’s toe nails are silver blue right now…we don’t do finger nails, though, b/c my daughter sucks her thumb and my son bites his nails). Not sure if you’ve seen the same, Lola. In my son’s class, the kids have not split off into gender segregated groups for play for the most part…but there are some very princessey girls that will sometimes need to be reminded by the teachers (and the helping parent–its a coop) that EVERYONE can play in high heels and dresses. I feel like the boys are branching out a bit, but there is still a group of hardcore girly girls. Then again, that might just be their preference, and that is alright, too. I was a girly girl, and although I was gender policed by my parents, it also came from me b/c I loved dresses and I loved playing baby dolls and I hated transportation play (still do). So I think kids do have things that appeal to them and don’t appeal to them, even outside of gender norms enforcing. In my experience (has it been the same for all of you?), I have seen that in environments that really strive towards more gender neutral policies, the children really do a LOT less gender policing themselves. Their play is also less gender segregated. I have NOT found it to be true that my kids behave in stereotypical ways despite my striving towards allowing my kids to play with whatever they want, just the opposite. Yes, my daughter loves dollhouse, but she also loves cars and trains. My son loves all sorts of transport play, but also loves dress up and playing princess castle. I really think it helps to raise them to believe that gender does not determine play things, dress, appearance, jobs, etc. Its sad to me that next year he will go to kindergarten and, most likely, unlearn of all of this. :(

    2. DouglasG
      DouglasG March 3, 2013 at 9:00 am |

      It’s a good thing I don’t have any hope for humanity left, because “chicks dig me!” would have killed it off. I admire your restraint.

      (When did purple become a Girls’ Colour? It wasn’t in my time; my parents let me wear as much purple as I wanted, and they were strict gender police; luckily I fought it instead of internalizing.)

    3. (BFing) Sarah
      (BFing) Sarah March 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

      I HATE the phrases on kids clothes…I also hate monkey themed clothing, but that’s a personal thing. So annoying. Its actually “neutral” but I still hate it.

      1. Andie
        Andie March 4, 2013 at 10:07 am |

        My youngest child was quite a climber as a toddler, to the point where we nick-named her ‘Monkey’.. now (7ish years later) she still gets excited when she sees things with monkeys on them.

  25. Psych Babbler
    Psych Babbler March 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm |

    Oh dear…it makes you wonder what’s going on in that little girl’s house and life in general. Not just for the gender stereotyping but also the extreme emotional reaction…

    1. Marksman2000
      Marksman2000 March 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm |

      Exactly. Exactly.

  26. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 March 3, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

    I hope this child matures and learns some manners soon. In my old school, if you walked up to someone and started mouthing off and stepping on their shoes, you would get your ass handed to you 100%.

  27. Gretchen @ Girls Can't WHAT?
    Gretchen @ Girls Can't WHAT? March 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm |

    Wow – I can’t even imagine such a reaction from a little girl. That is just sad. A site like Girls Can’t WHAT? must blow her mind. Women in boots and camouflage… the horror!

  28. Ms Misantropia
    Ms Misantropia March 4, 2013 at 5:11 am |

    I feel sorry for that little girl, I feel sorry for all the little girls in the world. But I hope your little girl gets to live many more years before someone tries to crush her dreams under their shiny Mary Jane’s.

  29. Funty
    Funty March 4, 2013 at 8:19 am |

    What if the kid in your scenario just happens to have been born with the tiny mental horizons and sense of imminent personal attack that we more often hear about in Republican candidates for election?
    Maybe she could do that in the future?

    Meanwhile, there will be a thread on a Republican site, suggesting that some kid cannot possibly be gay unless they’re being abused at home.

  30. Jessica
    Jessica March 4, 2013 at 8:53 am |

    Maybe suggest to the school they have a “Career day” nd you can talk to all the kids about what it is you do and that women can do anything.

  31. Athenia
    Athenia March 4, 2013 at 9:55 am |

    On the positive side of things, I hope this little girl continues to see you in your boots and jacket whenever you pick up your daughter and perhaps one day she’ll understand that girls can do that too. Maybe she’ll even join the military one day!

  32. Rob in CT
    Rob in CT March 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm |

    The part that strikes me as odd is the foot stomping. I’d have been totally thrown by that.

  33. Eric
    Eric March 6, 2013 at 8:49 pm |

    Seems like pretty normal kid behavior. Kind of shocking to have come out of the blue from a kid that is essentially a stranger to you, but kids are all about boundaries, and she feels quite strongly that you are crossing one. Being 3, she lacks the emotional maturity and language skills to explain her frustration with you and your disagreement with her.

    A lot of commenters clearly don’t have kids, and haven’t spent enough time around them. There is no evidence to support claims of abuse or bad parenting.

    1. Henry
      Henry March 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm |

      Eric, this is the USA, we don’t do evidence when jumping to conclusions (tends to get in the way of the leap).

      What needs to happen is the kid needs to be disciplined, asked why she thinks what she thinks and, if nothing pops up, watched for further outbursts.

      1. Wzrd1
        Wzrd1 March 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm |

        Henry, I disagree. Discipline may not be called for if she was taught such things in the home by her parents. In that case, it comes down to education.
        Ignorance can be educated away, but never disciplined away.
        First, one needs to ascertain the root cause of the behavior. That can either be through a parental interview, which could be fruitful or useless, depending on the parent and their desire to discuss the issue or via the teacher interacting with the child to ascertain the root cause.
        If I were the teacher, I’d have already begun quietly and intermittently querying the child as to what frame of reference she reacted to a soldier who happens to be female.
        If it is revealed that she is taught that in her home, it’s a matter for guidance councilors and social workers, plus mild correction of erroneous data in incremental stages.
        Such as leaving a picture of one of our female astronauts, when speaking about astronauts in general and the physical and educational requirements for them to be selected to become an astronaut and potentially have an opportunity to go into space.
        And later, a picture of Major General Jennifer Napper or Major General Susan Lawrence, who I made acquaintance with after I retired.
        Both were commanders of the US Army Network Command and were excellent as commanders.

  34. Things that break your heart | Balanced Instability

    [...] have a daughter, and so reading this article made me so sad. I hope that we can all work to make sure that little girls don't feel so limited. [...]

  35. Megan
    Megan March 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

    Interesting article, but the reactions are even more so. Especially the ones that jump to the conclusion that she must have an abusive home life, or else a very conservative Christian upbringing.

    I’m the mother of two little boys, I’m also conservative AND Christian but gender roles have never been enforced in our household. If my sons want dolls, they can have dolls or princess crowns or whatever. My 2 and a half year old boy has a sizable doll collection and a couple of pink sparkly shirts from the girls section.

    This greatly upsets my 4 year old some times. I have never taught this child gender stereotyping but he has very rigid views of what is “for girls” and “for boys”. My guess is that he picked it up from preschool. Now, he wouldn’t have that kind of reaction to any adult for any reason but that’s just his personality. I’m thinking this little girl has very rigid gender role ideas supported by her peer group and maybe at home too and her individual personality caused that outburst.

  36. Rachel W.
    Rachel W. March 9, 2013 at 9:23 am |

    I pretty much just skimmed comments here, so if this is a repeat from someone else, please excuse me, but I feel obliged to mention this.

    My daughter has high-functioning ASD, and one of the things we have to watch with her is black-and-white thinking. Sometimes this has involved rigid ideas about what boys and girls “should” or “should not” do or be, and it takes work for her to understand things differently.

    This is a problem we have been working on for some time. She’s eight now and doing much better with this, in part because there are a number of things she’s interested in now, like trading card games, where many more boys are involved than girls. But I can see where my girl might have reacted in this way when she was younger.

    It is a problem, we make no excuses for it and we are still helping her with it–make no mistake about that. I just thought this might provide some additional insight.

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