General Question

Dixon's avatar

Do you approve of weighted vests to calm unruly pre-schoolers?

Asked by Dixon (537points) 1 week ago

A good friend of mine is heartbroken. He sweet, intelligent four year old daughter is being forced to wear a weighted vest every day at her pre-school. The single mother wasn’t informed and found out two weeks later. It is still being done.

The school isn’t even using an actual vest. This tiny girl is wearing a backpack with 10 lbs of books inside. The reasoning given by the school: To calm her. She’s unruly when the teachers don’t allow her to answer all the learning questions.

This mother just paid $2000 in tuition and all other schools have a waiting list right now otherwise she’d be yanked asap. This extremely energetic and bright young girl comes home sad and exhausted. She falls asleep by 5 pm and cries because she thinks she’s a naughty girl now.

What can be done? Do you approve of these methods?

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57 Answers

Zaku's avatar

First impression: Sounds rather screwed up.

Seems like something a teacher would do when it lacked appropriate skills for dealing with children.

Sounds really terrible, actually, not only the vest itself but the clear incompetence and/or apathy in relating to the child in an appropriate way about the situation.

JLeslie's avatar

That is horrific to me.

WTH is learning questions? Are you telling me a preschooler is basically being punished for not sitting still and learning academics? Hell no.

She has to be able to play without hurting anyone, and a reasonable amount of self discipline for a young child, but expecting her to sit still for an extended time and learn some sort of reading or math if she isn’t ready is too much in my opinion. Or, do you mean she knows all the answers? Maybe the kid is brilliant and bored.

I don’t know the whole situation, so hard to really judge, but I know I’m against the weighted vest. Not only because of the weight, but also because it makes her a marked child.

I’d take her out of the school. If there is no other school, can a relative watch her? Is there really no other day care possibility?

Dixon's avatar

She wants to answer all the questions. I’d go with brilliant and bored.

Mom wants her somewhere that will challenge her instead of general daycare. She’s on a few wait lists at other schools.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Has she talked to the school to see if the girl can be put in a class more advanced?

It sounds like she will be in preschool again next year, is that correct? This school year is almost over at this point. Can she be put in kindergarten early instead of another year of nursery school? If that is the case. What month is her birthday? I was 4 when I started kindergarten.

What happens in the summer?

A good “day care” with very few children might be better. More one on one attention.

Dixon's avatar

^You ask some good questions. I know the mother is doing whatever she can and she is taking suggestions.

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe the mom can provide some books and learning materials for her daughter to bring to school to work on, to occupy her, if the school is insufficient.

If the school has already decided she is a problem child I think it’s really best to get her out. I hope she finds an opening for her elsewhere soon if that’s the case.

JLeslie's avatar

I have just one other thing to ask. Did the mom go to the school and tell them to take that $!@& vest off of her kid?!

Soubresaut's avatar

That’s abhorrent. The things people can rationalize doing to others…

I wouldn’t take the child another day. I also try to insist on partial reimbursement… But if I can’t get the $2000 back, it’s a sunk cost at this point. I’m out the two grand whether I keep my child in the program or not. So why be out the money and continue to let my child learn at an early age that she’s a “bad” kid who has to be physically weighed down to “behave”? And anyway, if that’s what the school thinks is necessary for discipline, and if my child is acting in ways that indicate obvious boredom, how intellectually stimulating can the school really be? What can they really know about child development?

And when it’s all said and done, and my child’s out of there (as in, tomorrow), I’d make myself a Yelp account just to write a review describing my child’s experience in the school. Other parents should know that’s what this school does.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

That’s torture as far as I’m concerned. Those educators should be made to stand in a line carrying piles of books for being such arseholes.

Poor little girl. My child would not spend another day in that environment and I’d be in the office of my local MP asking him and child services to investigate.

jca's avatar

It doesn’t sound like it would be good for the child’s back.

I would think the mom has some rights about what can and can’t be done to her child.

If I were the mom, I’d be talking to the school administration.

Soubresaut's avatar

@jca I was wondering about that, but only did a cursory search and didn’t find too much… do you have any idea what those rights would be/where they would be found?

jca's avatar

@Soubresaut: It depends on where she is located. If I were the mom (or you), I’d call the local Education Department or Child Protective Services. Is it in the USA?

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Surely this isn’t permissible in the US school system?

Patty_Melt's avatar

Maximum weight limit for a child’s backpack is ten percent of their weight.
If this pre schooler does not weigh at least 100 pounds, then I would seek charges against the school. Excessive weight can cause permanent damage.

cazzie's avatar

This is NOT approved practice where I live. I’d take my kid out of that place and report them.

chyna's avatar

She’s being punished for eagerly and excitedly answering questions? That’s what 4 year olds do!
I bet the single mom is overwhelmed and afraid if she makes a scene the child will be kicked out of day care and then she will have no where to take her. That is totally understandable, but she is the only voice her daughter has right now. She needs to stand up for her child and stop that type of abuse. Because it is breaking her spirit. She will end up being a broken, sad, depressed kid if she is punished daily for being a kid.

ragingloli's avatar

Absolutely. Unruly children need to be properly disciplined and put in their place.
It is cheaper than sedatives, too, and does not leave marks like some good old fashioned strikes with a fibre glass rod would.

Coloma's avatar

This child sounds like she might be gifted or at least above average intelligence given her enthusiasm for learning. This is complete and utter bullshit and I would be obtaining legal counsel, psychological counsel ( as to addressing the possible abuse factor ) and would yank my child from that environment ASAP.

jca's avatar

After one day of that crap your friend should have been in the administration’s office having a discussion about the issue, @Dixon.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Not shocking to me when teachers in general are either not allowed to discipline properly or are just too lazy to do so.
I think that the fact it was done without the parents being consulted infuriating. Do kids not have recess anymore?

BellaB's avatar

Can the mother or an advocate spend a day at the classroom to watch what is happening? it seems like the teacher has taken an odd approach to a common problem. I know that weighted down vests are used for autism/ADHD/special needs in some school settings. It seems to be a very UK approach. I do think it is better than medication but heavy knapsacks are not at all the same thing.

Has the mother spoken to the school administrator/owner? has she been presented with alternatives? has she provided them with alternative solutions?

cazzie's avatar

The weighted vests for autistic children are not used as punishment. The children have sensory issues and the vests calm them because they are ergonomically designed.

BellaB's avatar

It seems to me that the person who is using a knapsack doesn’t understand the principles behind the weighted vests.

Dixon's avatar

This is in the US. I also have concerns about this hurting the child’s back. I suggested to the mother that she talk with her pediatrician and maybe he can step in?

I’ll share these suggestions with the mother. Thank you so much.

jca's avatar

@Dixon: I don’t know why the mom would need the pediatrician to step in. She should be able to stop the school from using this form of discipline if she feels it’s unfair or harmful.

BellaB's avatar

@jca , weighted vests are used for calming, not discipline/punishment.

__

The mother needs to talk to the school about why they think a weighted vest would be helpful in her child’s case. Have they made a diagnosis (inappropriate, but possible) that she needs to investigate? If that’s the case, a referral from the paediatrician to a specialist may be in order.

I’m curious when/how the mother had a chance to weight the knapsack. Does the child come home with it?

How much time is the mother spending in the classroom?

Cruiser's avatar

There should be zero compromise by the mom to allow one more day of this physical and psychological torture to continue. I am bothered that the mom did not immediately storm the front office and demand heads on a platter for their unapproved discipline of the daughter. I would not be surprised at all that this child is scarred for life over her confusion, suffering and pain of this treatment to her at the hands of her teacher and that her mom allowed this to happen to her. I am sitting here in utter disbelief reading this thread.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Backpack with 10 lbs for little girl is bad for her bone growth, that alone is scientifically accurate to condemn the school without external opinions. There are many other much effective and less painful method to teach little kids how to behave appropriately at school. That being said, I’m still one of the people that approve that parents can put their rambunctious children on leash while in public.

Dixon's avatar

She just found out late Monday afternoon that it had been going on for two weeks without her being informed. It was her priority to speak to the school the following day (yesterday). Mother was livid and knowing her she raised hell. This is only Wednesday and I have not had a chance to speak to her.

Cruiser's avatar

Thanks for the added details @Dixon Mom has her work cut out for her in helping her child fully understand and comprehend what had happened and finding a solution to the issue at school. Not sure there will be a good explanation as to why it happened that a pre-schooler would be able to understand.

jca's avatar

@BellaB: Whatever it’s used for, is not the point. The fact that it’s being used should be enough for the mom to go in to the school to have a discussion without the pediatrician having to step in.

chyna's avatar

Let us know @Dixon what you find out. I’m ready to go in and whoop ass on that teacher.

Soubresaut's avatar

Like others, I’m very glad to hear that she’s fighting for her child. If the school was having such a hard time, if the child was really being as disruptive as they claim, they should have contacted the parent(s) first. They should have at least kept the parent(s) informed, and preferably worked with the parent(s)—and with the child—to figure out solutions that would work best for the child. (Their choice to simply weigh down a child instead of trying to work with the family still concerns me, but I am glad that the mother is involved now that she knows.)

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe the vest wasn’t used as punishment by the school, but I bet it felt like punishment to the kid! Jesus, put yourself in that little girl’s spot. Think about it. “Because of how you are you will have to wear this vest. If you were better behaved you wouldn’t have to.” Sounds like punishment to me if I was 4 years old.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

And because she loves learning and is so enthusiastic she answers all the questions @JL. If that’s a crime I’d have been put in a weighted vest at uni. Seems to me, good teachers should be able to manage a n enthusiastic little girl without resorting to torture.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I only posted that once! See overly enthusiastic!

Dutchess_III's avatar

What does “unruly” mean in this context? Is it actual behavior issues, or is she honestly just bored?

That’s a terrible consequence what ever the reason. So wrong.

If they told her ”“Because of how you are you will have to wear this vest. If you were better behaved you wouldn’t have to.” @JLesliem then it was meant as a punishment.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I have no idea what they said to the girl, but in her little head it must feel like that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What in the world kind of preschool books would weigh 10 pounds? What kind of books are they?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Probably bibles

Dutchess_III's avatar

Snort. Probably. That’s bordering on child abuse, IMO. I wish we get get the whole story.

BellaB's avatar

Too little information to fairly assess this.

Hopefully people don’t run their businesses and lives like this. Judgment based on second/third-hand reports.

Dixon's avatar

?

The daughter was made to wear a backpack full of books because she’s curious and becomes unruly when she can’t participate in activities as much as she wants to. She’s a very talkative and inquisitive four year old. The backpack was put on the child to calm her down. This was done for two weeks before the mother found out.

This isn’t third hand info. What other information is needed? Why is there confusion for some? I’ve never heard about this technique until this happened to my friend and I know as much as everyone else here. I find it appalling, especially since the mother was never informed.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I really can’t imagine a situation where that ^ is acceptable.

Dixon's avatar

I don’t know who I’m talking to with the rabbit ears. This is very disconcerting.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I will be switching from rabbit ears to green on friday, for St. Patrick’s day.
Join me?

jca's avatar

@Dixon: There’s confusion because there are some unanswered questions above. We refer to this as second hand or third hand information because you are not the mother so you may not be able to answer all the questions. One big question I had was where is this situation located? In scrolling through the discussion, I see people are asking what exactly was said to the child when this was done, how does the mother know the weight of the backpack. There are others but I am in somewhat of a hurry now. That’s why there’s confusion and us calling it second or third hand info. The mom is first hand info.

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe the child is on the autism spectrum?

Just another question in the list of questions.

I still don’t approve I don’t think.

I need to know how the school is presenting this backpack to the children. The only one who really knows is the teacher and the students. I’m glad this kid is talkative, because we need the little girl to tell what they said to her, and how it makes her feel. I really don’t care the intention of the teachers. @cazzie said above similar methods help autistic children, which means they would feel better, if this child is very upset by it then she isn’t feeling better. Only the kid knows, and Mommy’s intuition.

cazzie's avatar

No, @JLeslie not what I said. Not a backpack filled with books. Not ever. The weighted vests are ergonomically designed and often only worn for 15 minutes. The are used after a diagnosis and after consulting a specialist therapist. No school teacher decides that for a kid. I spent ages asking my son’s school for ear protection for my son so he wouldn’t hear the class room noise and could concentrate on his assignment in class. Never happened.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie Gotcha. I guess my point is if the child feels better then it makes sense. If the child is exhausted, crying, embarrassed, or many other negatives, then it’s not ok.

They wouldn’t let your son wear ear plugs? Or, did he need something that muffled the sound even more?

cazzie's avatar

I can’t remember the English word for them. Like what you wear when you mow the lawn. Ear protection?

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie It’s all ear protection I think. I have ear plugs, the foam ones you stick in your ear that you can buy a box of them at the drug store or hardware store. I also have the kind that look like headphones like the old days how we listened to music before ear buds. Sometimes I wear both at once.

There are also fancy headphones that have some sort of special thing, and they are marketed as noise reducing, or noise reduction ear protection, and can play music.

For your son, I would think you don’t want to completely block all outside noise, because you would want him to hear the teacher addressing him. The ear plugs can easily do that. My husband uses them to sleep sometimes. I use them for Zumba class, movie theatres, dance clubs, concerts, race track, anywhere the noise seems a little too loud.

BellaB's avatar

@Dixon , were you in the classroom? Was the mother in the classroom?

Who weighed the knapsack?

Lots of questions that only someone in the classroom with access to the knapsack can answer.

Tell the mother to get into that classroom, spend some time there to find out what is going on. Reports from a child and/or instructor aren’t going to cut it.

Dixon's avatar

The mother handled the backpack because she took it off her daughter when she picked her up at the end of the day. She guessed the weight at 10 lbs. She’s an intelligent woman who can make a pretty accurate guess at weight. Her daughter weighs 35 lbs.

The mother’s comment today- “Oh, they got a dose of me.”

The school stopped with the backpack today and she finally has her vivacious daughter back. DCFS was also contacted by the mother.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks for the update.

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