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My 16 month son and I attend a regular toddler enrichment activity. This is tremendously fun for both of us and we have made some great friends here. Unfortunately, my son has developed the habit of hitting other children on the head or face. This generally seems to happen when he gets excited and happy. He never hits in response to having toys taken from him or as a retaliation. The general reaction of the other toddlers to being hit ranges from an occasional frown or brief tears but more often than not it is usually a blank stare and a quick return to play. My son has frequently been hit, bumped into, knocked down and has had toys snatched from him on a daily basis. It has never crossed my mind that any of these children are headed down the road to brutal delinquency.
About a month ago, my son hit a little girl in the class twice in one session. I was very embarrassed and made sure to apologize profusely to the mother. This child was not someone we had met before and she reacted with very intense, prolonged tears. I am a first time mom and I am not perfect. I didn't quite know how to cope with this beyond apologizing. This was the first time that a child reacted with such intensity and I was truly at a loss.
Since this incident I have been upped my vigilance about keeping a very close watch on my son. We encountered the duo a second time, during which I made sure that he had no contact with her whatsoever. I assumed that the incident had boiled over.
I was approached by the teacher yesterday in front of all of the other parents at the end of class and was told that this mother emailed the director of the program and told her that my son was a bully. The teacher was kind about it and said that she defended my son as a sweet boy. However,I am a bit disturbed about the way the whole manner was handled (this director never contacted me and then it was brought up in front of the other parents).
My knowledge of child development leads me to believe that children at this age have not yet developed a sense of empathy. I don't think it's possible to be an actual bully- is it? Am I completely in denial here? Does it sound like a case of true thug behavior?
I would really appreciate some constructive feedback about managing this behavior. My approach to date has been a firm no, a soft grabbing of his hand, and ''gentle, gentle'' with some redirecting. Does anyone have any other suggestions? -Publically labeled as brutes.
Say "no" and remove him from the other kid. He won't totally understand yet but you are teaching, not punishing. He does have to start hearing the word 'no' at some point (at the opposite end of the spectrum is my sister's 5 year old who cried when I said 'no' to her because no one had ever said that to her).
Apologize to both parent and kid -- after all, you're the one who let this happen, even if it was an accident. Personally, if the "victim" seems to be overreacting I would focus my apology on the parent.
You have to watch watch watch CONSTANTLY. But don't feel too bad when you miss something - you just won't be able to prevent everything.
I totally know how you feel. Certain moms with these sweet little girls who cry at the drop of a hat when touched by someone half their size can drive me insane. (Thankfully, many moms of sweet little girls are extremely understanding. Love them.)
Real discipline starts later than 16 mos. And I am a mom who is 'strict' by most standards. (Remember, I said 'no' to the 5 YO). There is no such thing as a 16-month old "bully"!!
It does sound like you are in a bit of denial about your kids behavior. It doesn't sound like he is mean spirited or out of control - but it DOES sound like he needs consequences and discipline.
EVERY time he hits another child, you should immediately tell him not to do it, apologize to the other child and give him a time out. Apologizing to the parent of the other kid doesn't make the kid who was hit feel any better. And if your son can't/won't apologize to the child, you should apologize for him, so that your kid sees you model appropriate behavior and the child who was hit feels better. Your kid will catch on.
But if you just let him continue negative behaviors and think just because he is ''young'' that it's ok, you'll have a handful to deal with when you wake up one day and realize your kid is a nasty teenager who won't listen to you or is not empathetic to others.
Even if other parents aren't doing that for your child when he is hit or pushed, it doesn't make your lack of intervention ok. And, if they do hit or push your child and the parent doesn't do something, say something, it's fine to tell that child it's not nice to hit or push others... take responsibility
I would say get yourself out of that enrichment program. The teacher and the director both displayed extremely unprofessional behavior. I would never stand for that.
Don't worry. Most likely in a couple month your child won't be doing this anymore (but he'll probably have a new and equally baffling new behavior ;) MomOf2
I do understand the frustration of the other parent. It is horrifying to see your sub-2 child hit by another child just as it is mortifying to see your sub-2 child hit another child. I remember thinking every awful thought in the book about another child at the playground who hit my then-18-month-old. The shoe was on the other foot a year later. Kids react differently. I am fortunate not to have drama-queens in my household and am always shocked to encounter them, but I do understand...the child was reacting more from surprise than hurt. But, it is withing her right. The Mom will reign that in at some point.
Regarding the preschool...I am not surprised that the director didn't say a thing to you. I frequently hear how horrible this child is or that child is...parents have no problem criticizing others parenting while breaking their arms patting themselves on the back for their successes...I ignore it. I see the children, spend time with the children (often more waking hours than the parents themselves do) and have a pretty good idea about how kids act and what is going on...just the other day I got to listen to some parent criticize the parenting of another and throw names at a child (acts like a baby, obviously no discipline in the home, etc) who is five and under my care. Whatever...I have no need to tell her that the child is autistic. I just told her that the kid is awesome and I love him very much and that each kid has her own bag of tricks. To your point. I never comment on another child (except positively) to another parent. So, I wouldn't expect the Director to comment. I am very surprised that the teacher did this to you in front of other kids and I would talk to her. Let her know your embarrassment and let her know that you felt it was unprofessional (she probably already knows...I have wanted to eat my words on the very rare occasion myself. We are all human.) If she defends her behavior then talk to the director. But, my guess is that she already knows that she said something stupid.
And, regarding the behavior itself...it sounds like you are on the ball and doing your best. Keep it up. Model, model, model. Remove from situations...cool down periods as necessary. Do keep an eye on it...I just heard a story about a lovely 5-year-old who had integration issues. I never would have known that she used to be the 'hitter' on the playground from 18-months until 3. Turns out that she had space issues (and other things) that have been worked through with an occupational therapist. -anon
Some parents offered good advice about removing your son from a situation when he does hit, though. It is absolutely important to start teaching him at this age that it is not OK to behave that way. You may also want to explain why (something to the effect of: you didn't like it when (insert child's name) hit you, (insert child's name) doesn't like it when you hit her, either). He may not get this concept yet, and he won't internalize it for awhile, but at least he gets used to hearing it.
Hope this helps. Keep up your vigilance when he is playing and ask his teachers to be consistent with your method, as well. Melissa
1. (Most important) look at what happens just before and after hitting and try to figure out if he is trying to get the child's attention, play with the child's toy, get adult's attention. And did he succeed?
2. Instead of reproving your son, model empathy: Turn first to the other child and briefly comfort her saying words like ''I'm so sorry. You don't like hitting.'' Afterward turn to your son: ''You didn't want to make her cry. Can you pat her hand gently to make her feel better?'' (Guide him. Praise him as he tries to follow even if the other child isn't comforted.)
3. Teach a different strategy. Describe what you think he wanted to achieve, e.g. ''you wanted to play, too.'' Model what your son could have done, like clapping, or saying, ''hi!: or holding out a hand and saying ''please,'' or offering the other child a toy. (If the other child does not respond, say ''You tried. Let's see what you and I can do instead'' and model how to join a different child's play.
4. Spend more time with your child in the play group, anticipating problems and modeling better solutions. Don't take over play, just assist in what they initiate.
5. At home create similar situations and make a game out of them: Enter the room with a big ''Hi!'' When happy, clap. In play,''your turn, my turn.'' When frustrated, ''What else can we do?''
6. Finally, be on the lookout for nice behavior, clap, and DESCRIBE and COPY what he is doing right. What your son has is mistaken behavior, not misbehavior. Good luck with teaching him more successful strategies. I'd love to hear from you. Pearl
My son is 19 mos & has a language delay + some issues with eye contact. My Mominlaw says it is B/C he does not go to daycare and interact with children enuf. So, for several mos, I have taken him to the parks/ play areas to socialize. But, it goes awfully (esp. the less babylike he is)! He is hit/shoved/yelled at nearly every outing, usually more than once!!! We try so hard to prevent it too. My son has lost interest in the play structures & instead likes to sit and pour wood chips on himself, or hang at the edges now.
The bullying happens when someone takes an interest in my son's independent play and approaches (often there is no toy involved). I am always nearby and when they bully, I calmly ask the child something like ''are you wanting to play?'' This fixes the problem momentarily, However, often the child returns & more urgently ''punishes him''(shoving, hitting and shouting at my son). My son never resists.
Sadly, the other moms do nothing- or act like it's a ''sharing issue'' (like it's ok to hit if you havetrouble with sharing??). Thus it often happens more than once in a visit. Last week my son was sitting in a toy boat when a boy climbed in & sat beside him. Plenty of room for both. I hoped for sharing glances, but the child suddenly grabbed my son by his shirt & pushed him down into the foot area & hit him. The other toddler's mom came over & lifted her child up, which set off a kicking fit, & the child tried to grab my kid again in anger (didn't want to be removed from the boat) My son had done nothing but just sit quietly in the boat. In August, a 3 year old tried to shove my son, who was at my side, into a fountain!! My son had ignored the child's earlier advances/ no eye contact ..and so I think the kid was mad. I had to practically fight the kid to get my son out of the water.
I've tried hanging back, tried standing right there & chatting w/every child as they approach. But it just keeps happening and I don't know what to do. We are heart broken.
Worse... at the park today, I put my son in amongst a small group of kiddos and babies. For a while he sat still with a worried look on his face, and then suddenly became excited & ran over and swung at a baby and was almost giddy dancing as he tried to stomp her!!!
What should I do? I would love to have anyone's input, but espec. any input from ASD mommies with regard to bullying lola
You might want to try finding one or two more mellow boys his age and set up some 1:1 playdates at your house, where you can guide the interaction and give your son a chance to ''practice'' his social interaction in a safe place. I put signs up in various parks around me (and a notice on BPN) and found some really really great playmates for him. Maybe also find a social skills playgroup with kids his age. The more he can practice in a safe setting, the better he'll be able to do it out in the ''real'' world. Hope that helps! Jill
I think a lot of parents take their kids to the park and then check out. I've had kids push my kids off slides, hit, steal toys, etc. and (some) other parents just don't care. So I am vigilant. When another kid approaches your kid, you might want to go one step farther in engaging them in play. Instead of asking ''Are you wanting to play?'' you could ask ''Do you want to pour woodchips into a pile too?'' to help them get started.
I think you are ascribing too much thought to other toddlers. I really doubt they are targeting your kid because of some slight that occurred earlier in your outing. Little kids don't always know (or remember or care) good ways to interact. Also, kids engage in parallel play until they are ~3 years old. Instead of going to parks/on outings, you might want to join a mother's club or a co-op so he sees the same kids each time.
Incidentally, I no longer think my son has ASD. He talks like a champ, reads, is into imaginary play, and has lots of friends. I think he was just a late-bloomer and needed a little extra help and guidance in making friends. Anon
Your mother-in-law, by the way, is dead wrong if she is suggesting that your son has autism because he doesn't get enough social interaction. What should you do? Get in touch with the RCEB and a local ASD support group. You think you can do autism alone? Maybe, but it's going to be hard enough -- why make it harder? kevin
Yesterday I was in the checkout line at the grocery store with my one year old and two boys about age five started teasing him because he was in a diaper without pants over the diaper. I'm sure my son didn't know exactly what was going on but he seemed a little perplexed by their jabbings (they were pointing at him and saying: ''look, he's naked and then they would laugh''). Their mother seemed oblivious to their antics and I was in the middle of checking out so I let it go. However, I felt myself becoming really angry at their behavior and I wondered how I would handle such a thing if it happened in a year or two or three when my son is old enough to be hurt by their words. I may be overly sensitive but I HATE teasing and I was a school administrator in a school where we had a no teasing, or meaness policy. Any advice? My thought in retrospect would have been to say to the boys in the moment to stop teasing my son as I don't tolerate teasing of any kind in my family. beth
Also, I would have no problem with someone else addressing my kids the same way if they were the ones causing the problem. But if you do run into a parent who objects, stand your ground. You have an obligation to protect your child, and as long as you are polite and reasonable, you are totally in the right. Sara
I would have laughed and said to my son (if he had noticed) look at those silly boys, they must not remember when they wore diapers, then I would have smiled at the boys.
Children take their cues from us. When my son didn't know how to handle something, he'd look at me. For teasing and general sillyness I'd just roll my eyes and smile, then he'd roll his eyes and smile. learned the hard way
Whenever I take my 2 year old son to the toy store or the playgound, other rude children will come up and snatch toys from him or try to bully him. My son has a calm and gentle temperament and doesn't seem to mind, but I often have to remove my son after awhile because some of these kids would just keep following him. I don't feel that it is fair for my son to give up his toys or space when the parents of these rude kids just sit there and watch their kids getting their way. What is the best way to handle this, should I speak nicely to the rude child or to the parent? Fed Up
Make him practice, not only while in public, but by roleplaying with you at home. I know he's only 2yo, so keep it simple for now and keep working on it with him over time. Good luck.
First, I would say that that your child should not have to be the target of bullying kids of parents that allow aggressive behavior. What I would do is say something like, ''Excuse me, my son was playing with that, so please don't take it.'' If you need to, gently remove the toy and say, ''Let's give it back to Ben, since he was already playing with it.'' I do believe it takes a village, and if you are doing it nicely (not an angry mama bear) both children will get something out of your intervention.
However, the other thing I would say (or ask) is, Are you being overly sensitive? You may feel that because your son is calm and gentle, he is a victim waiting to happen, and so are looking for every possible infraction on the part of other children. I would say that you also don't want to set yourself up for being your child's hovering saviour. Something to be in tune with is finding a way for kids to get along on their own, yet guiding them through it.
One thing I did want to call out is it also might be an appropriate way for your son to learn how to share. I was once in the sandbox at the Montclair playground and was floored when a grandma was standing guard over a cache of sand toys that she had brought for her child. Obviously, other children saw them all and wanted to play too, and she kept saying, ''Give that back, that belongs to Emma.'' I thought it was a pretty poor choice to bring those toys and not use it as an opportunity to teach her child to share. It would have been easy enough to say, '' Emma is playing with that now, if you want to wait a few minutes, you can have a turn.'' Everyone wins. Maybe this is something you could try.
I would not say anything to the other parent (people tend to get sensitive and turn defensive) unless the bully child is really hassling yours. Then, maybe I would say, ''It looks like your son is being a bit aggressive with mine. Could you help make sure he doesn't keep grabbing from my son? Thanks SO MUCH!'' If you do not act like the child is a problem, just acting in an inappropriate way, then your sincere words should go a long way. Elizabeth
Along those lines, I don't think that two year old are capable of being rude, I think they're being two. Toy snatching is a pretty common activity at that age. I don't know that bullying is really what is happening either, as that implies some intent to be mean and hurtful. Most preschool age kids take what they want, end of story, until redirected by an adult. Now if these other kids are much older, there's a whole different problem, but I assume you're talking about kids of similar ages to yours. Mom of grabby three year old
Just after his second birthday, all that started to change. He started objecting if other kids tried to grab something from him, and would sometimes push or hit them to keep them from doing so. That's bad enough, but he also became a toy-snatcher himself, and would shove or hit if the other child resisted. This behavior seemed to peak around 2.6, and is still an issue at 3.4 -- even though I *do* correct it.
And I'd like you to know that, at least for me, it has been way way WAY more difficult to deal with being the parent of the aggressor than being the parent of the child being aggressed upon. Not that it's easy to see other children mistreating your child, but at least you get to rejoice in what a wonderful, well-behaved child you have (while perhaps feeling a bit superior to the parents of the ill-mannered hooligans, who clearly are just not properly parenting their child!). It's far worse when you find your own child's behavior mortifying, but have been having difficulty stopping it. We continue to work on it, and I do think there's been some improvement lately, but let me tell you, it is absolutely exhausting mediating all the squabbles my son gets into. And I'll confess that, especially when he first started snatching things from other kids, I would sometimes look the other way if the other kid wasn't upset -- not so much out of indifference as from sheer exhaustion! I eventually decided that I have to correct the behavior all the time, even if the other child doesn't object, because otherwise I'm sending my son a mixed message, but let's just say I'm now much more sympathetic to other parents who don't always correct their child for this behavior.
So, I guess the main point of this post is to let you know what it's like to be on the other side of this problem -- I'm hoping this will help you to be less judgemental and more compassionate towards the other parents in this situation. For all you know, you may be in their shoes 6 months or a year from now -- and even if you're not, I think it's always a good idea to try to understand the other person's point of view. Diane
The parents who let their kids ''bully'' your kid - if taking a toy away could really be called bullying - may just be more laid back parents than you, or possibly the kids could be at the park with thier nannies. Whatever the case, there are some of us, apparently few, who think kids need to develop their own negotiating skills. Kids of a certain age get toys taken away - mine did. Then they get older and they are the toy grabbers - mine did that too. The grabees don't seem to mind.
I think it's the parents who mind, and if that's not projecting, I don't know what is. Toddler play is not like adult interaction, where we'd be upset if we were reading Vogue and some other woman came up and grabbed it from us. Toddlers sort of grab and give up toys in a circular fashion, and that's just normal. As I read all these comments about how dang UPSET some moms get when their kids have toys taken away, and how they feel they need to jump to thier child's rescue, I wonder if these moms are going to attend elementary school with their kids to fight their battles for them. And I wonder if it would even BE a battle if the moms didn't make it one.
There's this competitive motherhood thing around here that I don't even get, so maybe I'm way off base. But I thought it might be helpful to hear from someone outside the choir. why I dread going to the park
I am not judging your parenting. I am worried about my own. What do I do when your kid bites mine, or pushes him or grabs a toy and he bursts into tears? How many times do I say about your child, when mine looks at me, hurt and bewildered, ''he/she didn't mean it'' or ''he/she is having a rough day?'' And what do I do when my child becomes more introverted because he is always picked on?
I understand it is difficult to raise a ''spirited'' child. But as a parent of a child who is gentle and shy, I have put up with all kinds of comments about him ''not being socialized'' or ''still stuck on mommy'' or even ''slow to develop.'' Can you imagine how this made me feel about my own parenting skills? I understand you are embarrassed and exhausted by your child's behavior, but your defensive attitudes drive a wedge between us at a time when we need each other the most.
Secondly, for us, the solution was to stay away from the park and find a small preschool with children of similar tempermants. My son is now thriving and no longer shrinking once I limited his exposure to more aggressive children and their defensive parents. happy at last
Some situations, like when kids are pretty evenly matched, may indicate it's appropriate to let them work it out. Sometimes, especially when the kids were younger, I helped them find the right words/solution. But when one kid is always at the short end -- emotionally or physically -- I don't agree that they should work it out alone.
In fairness, how can I stop him, if he doesn't see me stop it directed at him? Teasing and exclusion are pretty normal developmentally. I've even heard people excuse exclusion of other children (''it's hard for children to expand the group in the midst of play''). How can we accept behavior that makes a child feel so bad? Why do we accept hurtful behavior so long as it's not physical?
This is less about shielding a child from even being exposed to such behavior as letting him know that it's not ok, even if it happens. anon
My five year old son has always been very sweet and sensitive to other's feelings. In the past year he's befriended some boys in his pre-k who aren't really rule-followers and don't have the greatest self-control. My son has started to say that he likes these friends because they do mean things. For example, they like to scare other kids (especially girls). Since his induction into this posse, my son refuses to play with his once beloved friend in the class who is a girl. He will play with her on playdates though. He has taken to shamelessly excluding this girl at school despite the ''no exclusive play'' policy. He has said some very unkind things about his girl friend in the presence of the girl and her mom such as ''oh good, she won't be at school tomorrow.'' I'm just mortified and don't know how to tame my little beast. who is this child?
You say he says he is attracted to them because they are ''mean.'' Have you talked through with him what ''mean'' really is? Empathy needs teaching. What you have here is an important teaching moment. He still wants to play with this girl outside of school. Have you explained that his behavior pains her, and that this friendship will go away if he continues to behave badly.
Does he see these nasty kids outside of school? If so, why? You need to communicate, clearly and with no wiggle room, your rejection of them and their behavior. Yes, I know you can't control what he does at school. You can, however, control what he does, and where he goes, at other times.
Most likely, what he is enjoying with these boys is the pack mentality: the warm feeling of being in a group and the shared strength of the band. But if you don't want a mean thoughtless follower you need to work at showing him the results of his behavior. (Oh, and if they are already playing mean pack kids, you can count on them turning on him eventually too.) lw
I have only been able to find info for parents of the kids who are the victims of bullying. Our son, who is not quite 5, has been showing more and more agressive behaviors aimed at other kids. He focuses on another kid at preschool and targets him/her with physical violence and teasing, even goads other kids into same behaviors. His preschool teachers are very concerned and try to monitor him every second.
My partner and I are totally non-violent people. We don't hit, we don't threaten, we don't yell. We've always stopped any aggressive behavior immediately and said that this is never acceptable. We don't understand where this is coming from, and are starting to feel that we've done something awful as parents or that our child is just ''bad'' at the core.
Please don't diagnose our child - we will be seeing behavioral specialists asap for that. We would appreciate any info on support, parenting books or other resources, or personal stories about coping with similar situations. Freaking Out Parent
Outside of Kaiser we are sending our kid to Quest camp (a bpn recommendation - significant expense and drive for us.) A woman in our carpool describes her son similarly - ''very nice at first and then gets too agressive.'' They work with kids with ''mild to moderate ADD, ADHD, Aspergers, and other behavioral issues''.
Looking at my son through the lens of sensory integration has been helpful - he loves pillowfights, big hugs and wrestling, and we may seek professional help from San Leandro specialist in this area named Bledsoe.
Concerned about my son's moral development, cub scouts and church youth group were obvious choices. Cub Scouts is full of kids with ADD and my son often behaves better in this boy- friendly environment.
Many of our friends and family think we have caused this problem by being too lenient, too inconsistent, and letting our son be the Alpha male in our household. I'm sure that to some extent that is true and we are trying to clean up our act. We are lower energy older parents who waited a long time for this kid, Type B personalities who don't even notice, much less sweat, the small stuff. I'm probably ADD, so it's hard for me to be as consistent as I would like to be, plus I'm routine-resistent and authority questioning. I believe that regular beatings used to be the way that children like my son were handled in the olden days, and in some cases, the kids turned out okay - My dad may have been one of these. He died at 30 (a doctor) so I don't know his whole story. I notice that some people tell their children that they will burn in hell forever if they don't behave better, but we haven't stooped to that yet. I would like to form a support group but am embarassed to publicize my name. a worried mom
My child went from being a 'victim' to an 'aggressor,' and I learned quite a bit being the parent on that journey. Here is some of what worked for us.
I apologized to anyone and everyone for everything: the parents, teachers, school, etc... I took full responsibility for my child's behavior, because ultimately - I am responsible. (these were some hard phone calls to parents. and sometimes it was hard to get names from teachers of who my kid had hurt) I informed them of my/our plans of action. (pediatrician, behavioralist, teacher and/or director meetings, etc...) The school and I agreed on a list of behaviors I needed to review with my child before returning to school. The day of bad behavior, I have child 'write' (or dictate) a letter of apology to the children hurt. And then I maintained constant and ongoing communication about what steps have been taken, what steps are ahead, what daily role plays (or lessons or etc.....) we are working on at home, with all parties involved, how and what seems to be working, what else we could be doing, etc...
It was a lot of work. But I am really proud of us for how we worked through it. And many of the parties involved thanked us. And I/we truly felt we were building a circle of strength and support around our kid. Who has come through great.
Best of luck to your family. Been there
The Parenting Clinic http://www.son.washington.edu/centers/parenting-clinic/
Carolyn Webster-Stratton Professor of Family and Child Nursing, Director of the School of Nursing Parenting Clinic University of Washington http://www.son.washington.edu/faculty/faculty_bio.asp?id=112
I hesitate to include this video because the presentation's focus is research data on the long-term effects of untreated childhood aggression. My point in sharing this video is much the same as any research done by a parent that helps to define and exclude the behaviors, symptoms, etc in their own child (similar to researching diaper rashes: ''this photo shows a blotchy, raised and red rash - our little guy's looks more like small red dots, that itch'' etc). The presentation includes great examples of the techniques used by the clinic staff members as they work with children who have behavior and social integration problems. ''Helping Young Aggressive Children Beat the Odds: Parents, Children, Teachers and Dinosaurs'' http://www.uwtv.org/programs/displayevent.aspx?rID=2675 If you have trouble viewing UWTV website's streaming video, you might try calling the clinic to ask if they have any additional DVD copies of the video.
From your post, it is obvious that you are thoughtful, nurturing parents. I wish you success and joy as you continue to be strong advocates for the health and well- being of your WONDERFUL (yes, wonderful) child. A member of the village
My son is a total bully. He does all the standard stuff, grabbing toys, hitting a kid who grabs his toys. But it's the random episodes that are totally distressing, the stuff that comes out of nowhere. For example, this morning, he suddenly ran over to another kid at daycare and pushed him right into a tree with significant force, apparently with no provocation. I also just found out that he pushed another boy off of a play structure a few weeks back. Luckily that kid landed okay, with no apparent damage. Another thing he'll do is just reach out and scratch at or hit a child as they walk by.
He's also the kid who always takes the high energy play too far. For example, he and a friend were playing well (play date) and jumping on the bed. My boy's the one who ends up jumping into the other boy and knocking him off onto the floor. No permanent damage, again, but alot of crying and an angry parent.
We are constantly working on gentle and what is okay and not okay behavior. We also talk to him about the right way to get someone attention. I'm starting to get worried and don't know where this behavior is coming from. All I know is that I grit my teeth every time I have to pick him up, waiting to hear what he did that day.
Any advice for strategies that stop the behavior are appreciated. Is this a phase he'll grow out of? If so, what's the best way to handle these things when they come up? I don' want to always be forcing him to control himself and not get excited or physical, but he's not doing a good job of keeping it from going too far and, like I said, the randomness of his flash agressiveness often keeps the adults from reacting fast enough to avoid problems. Any advice or stories of your own experience is greatly appreciated. Mama in distress
That being said, I had the same issues starting about age 4.5 with my son, although his older sister called him ''rough and tough'' at 18 months. He was the sweetest guy at home, but came out swinging if someone was unfair or said something mean, and wanted to play rougher than his friends. For him, a full-body tackle is fun even if his knee gets skinned.
What my son is, and maybe your is too, is impulsive. He is physically oriented and does the physical act before he can think it through. This is something that yours will likely outgrow. Our son, however, did not...and in 2nd grade we started him on meds for ADHD. We tried everything before that- punishments, rewards, empathy- teachers suggested organized sports and social skills classes, parents of the other kids talked behind our backs and avoided play dates, our son was miserable that he was always in trouble. Now on medication, his latest report card actually states ''model student'', ''a leader in citizenship''. Our boy is using the drive and energy he has in positive ways and is way happier. Other parents have expressed amazement at the sea change and say their girls all love his boyish charm, when they used to complain he was too rough. But...he still longs for the day he is old enough to play tackle football and he prefers friends who also like to bash into each other for fun. He is just able to control the impulse to do it at inappropriate times. He needs meds to do this, but we hope this is not forever, and we also know that this is not for everyone.
Your son will be a world-shaker someday, instead of just a little handful. He knows what he wants (and tries to get it). He's not afraid to throw himself into his work (which in the case is play with other kids- he's just literally is throwing himself at them for now:). I bet he's a fierce hugger, too. Keep your chin up, be firm with limits, let other parents know you're doing your best, and see his qualities in the best light possible. Best wishes- Rough-n-tough's Mom
I thought that I was 'always on my kids' to behave. I said/did everything that I was supposed to do, but nothing seemed to work. I chalked it up to my children to being far more exuberant and energetic than most kids -- something that I love. I finally realized, when my younger daughter tackled an sweet, mildly autistic kid that it wasn't enthusiasm that made my children do this, but my inconsistent and 'without bite' discipline.
Last month, we implemented 'operation sledge hammer.' Every time one of our girls broke the 'no hit/bite/kick/push' rule or one of our other rules...there are more for the older one, she immediately went to time out -- the older one for 15 minutes on a chair facing nothing interesting and the younger one in a high chair facing nothing interesting. When she was placed in time out she told the rule that they broke, she went to time out and afterwards we 'modeled' and discussed kind behavior. If the older daughter made noise or talked during time-out the timer started again (using a timer is important as it keeps things impartial). On the first day of operation sledgehammer, the girls spent a lot of time staring into space. My older daughter once spent 45 minutes at a sitting.
It felt initially like 'a lot of work,' because it wasn't always 'convenient.' If the older one smacked the younger one when walking out the door, all momentum had to stop, my daughter would sit in time out for 15 minutes to a half hour and then we'd invariably end up late wherever we were going. If the younger one smacked a kid at the playground, we'd have to both leave. After a few days I realized that I could put my child in time out three or four times a day or I could spend all day threatening time out with the occasional follow-through of a few minutes for the older one which had no impact, breaking up sisterly scuffles and apologizing to other parents.
After a week of this, I found myself with two wonderfully well behaved daughters (still high energy and exuberant). My younger daughter who could easily hit five or six kids in one short outing to the playground has only hit once in the past month -- after another older boy grabbed her toy and pushed her down (we are now working on the words 'help me' for frustrating situations like that...) My older one has become a much better listener, hasn't hit her sister once and shows much better self control. -anon
So, I say do what you can to lock it down at home. Also, talk to his teachers. See if you can take off a day or two and just go in and observe your child without interfering. It might help you to see for yourself what's going on rather than just hearing the aftermath. Perhaps if you can see his behavior with other children it will help you to figure out his choices at home.
I don't mean this to sound blaming, but rather to suggest that seeing him in action at school might help you decide how to help him while you're at home. anon
Hi, I recently found that my three yo was bullied at preschool by two other kids. They are younger and close playmates. The thing is that my son looks kinda smaller than his same age. And he doesn't know or dares not to confront them other than crying. Anyone had similar situation or advice? I already talked to the teacher. But it will take some time to teach my son how to defense. What else can I do now? Jin
My 3 1/2 year old daughter is a very lively, sociable child, extremely articulate and full of fantasy life. She sometimes captivates the other kids at school with her stories, and the teachers love her. She has an eclectic sense of style and is very earnest, kind and enthusiastic. The problem is the kids who say debilitating things to her. She is such a forthright kid, she never stops trying to connect; her enthusiasm is always tendered with a desire to be liked. Unfortunately, there are certain kids who *always* respond negatively to her overtures. She tells me that one of the kids at school tells her she is stupid every day. I have seen this kid turn the opinions of others against her, teaching them to follow his example. Worse yet, there are kids who are friends with her most of the time, who turn around suddenly out of the blue and say terrible things, with this incredible look of glee and delight on their face when she crumples. This kind of cruelty is worse because she is not expecting it, and the children are ones she considers friends so she really believes what they say. I do my best to handle it when I see it happen. Usually, I try to gently call them on it, saying things like, ''Do you think that made her feel good? Then why say something that makes someone feel bad?'' etc. I don't want to interfere inappropriately, but I don't want them to think it's okay, either. I understand that the worst ones are insecure, but that doesn't help my daughter. The teachers work with the kids as best they can, but they cannot overhear every remark made, and much slips by. This is an issue I have struggled with all through my life; I have trouble knowing what to tell her because I never really learned to deal with it either. I know I should teach her to ''toughen up'', but I don't want to squash the essential exhuberance of this child, and besides, I'm not sure I have the skills. What can I say to her? How can I help her to handle these children who want to ruin her self-esteem? We fill our home life with as much love and support as we can, but I'm not sure it's enough. Heather
I would suggest role-playing with your daughter, pretending that you (or dad, or a stuffed animal, or whoever) are another kid in class. When the pretend classmate makes a ''comment'', help her to respond in an appropriate way - perhaps you would prefer that she ignores the comment, or just smiles, or changes the subject (obviously teaching her to throw cruel comments back isn't going to help). She's not going to be able to learn this on the fly in class, kids learn from doing and example.
Demonstrate to her that she has control of the situation based on how she responds to it. Just the novelty of her not giving the usual response may be enough to throw the other kids off.
It seems like kids take on ''roles'' in group situations, and as they grow these roles change. Kids get big, they turn out to be smart, or athletic, or whatever - they change. She needs to shake up the dynamic.
My two cents, hope that helps. Hate to think of your daughter going through that. Betsy
I would speak to the teachers about changing the curriculum to discuss respectfulness for one another, kindness, compassion, and thinking about how others feel. If they aren't willing to put in that kind of work, I would switch schools.
Yes, you can give your child love at home which will build her self-confidence, but speaking as someone who was treated badly by my peers when I was a child, the pain of that cruelty never goes away. In the old days, they used to say, ''learn to toughen up!'' but nowadays they are more enlightened. There ARE ways to teach kids not to be cruel to one another... they may not work perfectly, but they do reduce these incidents.
Today, this kind of treatment of others is called bullying or emotional abuse, and many schools have a zero tolerance policy on the subject. So there is hope!
Good luck! This is very important for your child.
Making cruel comments is what preschoolers do, particularly as they move into their 4's. Although you may never hear about it, your daughter probably comes up with a few zingers herself. Do talk to the teachers about what the children are saying. It is their job to create a safe atmosphere and communicate to the children that cruelty is unacceptable. The kinds of things you have been saying to the children are quite good. Be clear and matter of fact that you don't like this behavior. It's important for you to sort out your own emotional baggage (we all have it!) from the problems your daughter is having. This is one of the exciting things about being a parent--you are creating a new way of responding to something you have struggled with in your own life. Louise
My reaction to this situation thus far has been to avoid him. We mostly play at parks, and we joined the YMCA about a year ago so we can do physical stuff in the evenings without involving my daughter playing outside. (We live in an apartment, so we can't just retreat to playing in the backyard.) This is a big improvement, but she still likes to play outside and some days I am completely at my wits end. He will scream at her and she will start balling. (This happens 99% of the time they are both outside ) I've progressed from saying "Don't worry about him." to "He's just a big meany." to "Don't worry honey you are much smarter and nicer than he is." I guess I am looking for advice about the following 1. What semi-constructive things could I say to him, the bully, to maybe make the situation better or head it off? Are there books that deal with this subject -for children or adults? and 2. What should I say to my daughter? He makes her feel bad about herself, what can I say to make her feel better? I don't think dealing with the parents will help much based on my experience, and really the problem in my opinion is not so much the childs behavior, which they can do something about, but his personality.
There's a book THE BICYCLE MAN that tells a similar story. It might pave the way for your child to having that play-date. Good luck!
Dreikurs does have one other "slogan" which might suggest something you could do "Take the sails out of their wind." This means if a child is misbehaving to you, remove yourself. Then they don't have anyone to focus their misbehavior on. In your concrete situation, this means take your daughter home if the bully starts misbehaving.
By the way, I'm not sure that it is helpful to the situation to try to make your daughter feel better by comparing him to her. My best wishes to all of you. Fran
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