We’ve known for a while now that our president is just an overgrown man-baby, prone to fits of rage, habitual lying, petty insults and generally childish behavior, so it’s no surprise when he snubs Nancy Pelosi’s handshake or just generally makes shit up for his State of the Union. Given that, one would hope the Democratic establishment would try to contrast our Toddler-in-Chief with a bit of maturity — or, God forbid, actual efficacy — but nope, they’re just a bunch of useless babies too, seemingly existing just to remind us how fucked we are as a country.
With that in mind, who better to chime in on how to deal with all this immature behavior than elementary and preschool teachers — after all, it seems to be pretty much the level our leaders are at.
On Trump’s Refusal to Shake Pelosi’s Hand
Kayla, preschool teacher: With preschool, you often have to work on stuff like that. I always say to them, “You don’t have to like someone, but you at least have to be respectful to them,” and I think that’s what it is. You don’t necessarily have to be best friends, you don’t have to get along, but you’re going to show them at least the basic amount of respect that you can show them, and that consists of shaking a hand, or if someone says hello to you, you say hello back.
Kristine, elementary school teacher: I would address it right there and redirect the behavior. Being polite is important, so I’d stop them and ask them to try again.
Diane, daycare director: I’d intervene and ask them why they don’t want to shake hands. I’d do a little conflict resolution and try to get them to be able to be respectful enough to just shake hands and move on their merry way. If they refuse to, then I’d have them come to an agreement that both parties wouldn’t be upset with. Overall, though, this is important because you want to teach them to be respectful of others, to be empathetic and to treat others the way they want to be treated.
On Trump’s Habitual Lying
Diane: That’s so hard. First of all, you never want to assume a child is lying if you’re not sure, even if it’s the kid who normally lies. So you want to get the truth out without judgement. But if they’re caught in a lie, I’d probably tell their parent, because even small lies can turn into big lies.
Kayla: This happens a lot, where a kid will break something and then blame it on another kid. Which I guess happens a lot in politics too, really. With kids, I try to tell them to be honest and everything will be okay, but if they blame something on another kid, they’re going to be in much bigger trouble. In preschool, they’d probably lose out on free time, so they’d sit in their seat and only be able to read the books available to them. They’re not in time out the rest of the day, but they’re not going to have all the privileges that other kids are enjoying.
Kristine: When kids lie it drives me crazy. I’d love to smack them across the mouth, but I can’t do that, so they generally get a write-up or I call their parents. They’d go to the principal’s office for sure. It’s always better to fess up and tell the truth, I always stress that to them.
On Trump’s General Boasting
Kayla: Honestly, this happens a lot in preschool-age kids. Like, kids will brag that their shoes can make them run faster than another kid’s shoes. This is fine as long as they aren’t being insulting to the other kid. Confidence can help build up their ego a bit and that’s good. For some things, it’s just not something worth arguing over, so you let them have that one — “Sure, kid, your sneakers are faster.”
Kristine: We teach kids that it’s okay to say they’re winning or doing well, but don’t overdo it so that they’re going to hurt someone else’s feelings, because then that’s bragging and bragging doesn’t get you a lot of friends.
Diane: For confidence, it can be okay, but if they’re putting down others, then it’s a problem. Some people do think they’re high and mighty and think they’re better than everyone else. Honestly, narcissism is really hard to fix because it’s a character trait, and they really don’t have the capacity to understand what’s happening and that they really are harming someone. They might not have that perspective, and it’s hard to deal with a kid who doesn’t get it. Not that we can do this for the president, but a lot of those kids end up needing help and interventions to try and teach them empathy, which is something that’s really hard to be taught.
On Trump Insulting the State of California
Kayla: I don’t tolerate insults. I try to teach them basic respect for others so that they can function in society later, but if they keep it up, that’s going to land a kid in the front office.
Kristine: If a kid insults someone, I’d make them apologize. Sometimes they have to write a letter, and if they do that, they have to say why it is they’re apologizing — it can’t be just a blanket “I’m sorry,” they have to know why. If they refuse to apologize? Then I just send them to the office and call their parents.
Diane: If I was there I probably would’ve turned his mic off.
On Democrats Booing and Interrupting
Kayla: Usually little kids aren’t that rude, but I try to teach them to be quiet and show general respect during something like show-and-tell, and that’s kind of what this is like, adult show-and-tell.
Diane: It’s just so immature. If that was a classroom, I’d ask them to stop and if they refused, I’d ask them to step out of the room.
Kristine: I’d immediately kick them out of the room. They’d go to the principal or out in the hallway, and I’d say when they act like they’re supposed to, they can come back in.
On People Walking Out During the Speech
Kayla: Sometimes walking away is a good strategy if you’re that upset, but it’s also a safety issue in school, so I can’t let kids just walk out alone.
Diane: Some teachers believe in letting kids walk away, but I’ve found that doesn’t really solve the issue; it’s always going to come up again and it’s usually worse. I prefer to do a little conflict resolution as fast as possible. If they just up and walk out though, for safety reasons, I’d have to stop them in their tracks. I’d also remind them to be respectful of their classmates, because when it’s their turn to talk, their peers are expected to listen to them, whether or not they agree.
Kristine: If kids were trying to leave an assembly or something, I’d go over to them and remind them what they need to be doing and that they need to sit down and have good listening ears. I’d tell them to keep their eyes on the speaker and stop talking. I’m constantly redirecting them. It really does sound like our country is run by a bunch of six-year-olds, wow.
On Pelosi Ripping up Trump’s Speech
Kayla: For something like that, where someone was being outwardly defiant, I don’t always like to address the behavior right then and there because they’re doing it for attention. Instead, I do a lot of planned ignoring and I’ll address it later. When I do talk to them, I’ll let them know it’s okay to be angry, but I’ll offer other coping strategies, like putting their head down at their desk.
Kristine: That would be a straight-up write-up and call home. They’d need to apologize and be spoken to about their behavior. If a kid is tantruming I send them out into the hallway and tell them to come back in when they’re done. I don’t give it any fuel.
Diane: Honestly, they both have to be in trouble. In school, we teach that even if someone does something to you, you don’t turn around and try to hurt them back. Did she make herself look any better by doing that? No, she made herself look worse. I was taught that if someone refuses to shake your hand, that’s their choice, and the next time you see them, you offer it again. They’re choosing to be disrespectful, and you can’t be responsible for how people treat you, but you can be responsible for how you react to people.