To the editors:

The article “Tot Control” [November 13] raises important issues. Children need structure and consistency to feel safe, cared for, and to learn self-control. For whatever reasons, if this fails both children and parents feel insecure and incompetent.

The program described in “Tot Control” supports parents who find their children have difficulty learning self-control. That is fine, but this program also needlessly promotes attitudes and values that are destructive and shortsighted. The child is not respected as a valuable person. The parent is not a loving care giver.

In this program parents are taught to manipulate children, whereas most people find manipulative relationships intolerable. The children may respond to the structure they desperately need, but also know they are not valued as individuals, and learn to use others as tools.

It is possible to respect children, create an atmosphere that meets their needs for structure, and convey that what parents really want is to help their children learn self-control. The difference can be expressed another way. Most of us learn to obey traffic signals. Some stop at a red light because a policeman may be watching, others stop because such laws and lawgivers keep them safe.

Laya Frischer, MA CTP

child psychotherapist