Are we asking kids to sublimate their feelings to be kind?

Last school year I had a kindergarten student come to me and complain that two of the others were ignoring him, that they had told him he wasn’t their friend anymore.  I decided to do a little “digging” I spoke to both of the other boys, they told me the first child had pushed one of them down and hurt him.  This was a pattern for this child, he would push, hit, otherwise hurt a classmate then say it was an accident.  He had apologized to the boy he pushed but the two boys were mad and you know what I couldn’t blame them as the first child had done this before and wasn’t changing his behavior I’d be mad too.

It made me begin to wonder when we require kids to include all others are we doing the right thing?  Those boys had a right to feel angry and to use words to express those feelings to the first child.  Is it right for us to then tell them because he apologized they have to play with him???  Are we not providing proper feedback to the child who pushed by letting them think an apology excuses all behavior, we all know sometimes an apology just isn’t enough!  By not allowing those kids to refuse to play with this other child are we asking them to sublimate their feelings, are we telling them their feelings aren’t valid?

There has to be a middle ground here and we need to find it.



  1. I liked that you put this out there. I wish I knew the right answer. I’m consistent in parenting and in classroom discipline. That I know as a fact. But I think the best thing about working with kids is the dynamism to human beings. Situations like the one above challenge my thinking for whenever I should find myself in that place. I think some things are subjective in life like that and need creative techniques.

    If the kid is a jerk, he should know that now and work on his jerk behavior? My kid can be a jerk. I don’t him thinking that’s okay. I don’t know. Like I said. I have no answers but like your putting it out. Thank you.

    • It’s just so tough sometimes, I didn’t blame the two boys for being mad at the third, I’d seen his behavior before and he really has to learn that an apology is not enough, I don’t want kids to have their feelings hurt but I wonder if that might be the trick to getting them to change their behavior? IDK All I can do is keep trying my best. Thanks for the comment.

  2. This is actually a great point! In general I think there is too much forced “inclusion”. In theory I think it’s great – but when it’s forced upon students, it’s not natural. This really doesn’t happen when we’re adults!

  3. Pingback: Teaching kids to coexist | One Educator's Life

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