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My daughter threw a stone at her best play date friend!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yesterday I hosted a BBQ dinner for my neighborhood mama girlfriend and her 2 sons, one of whom is 2 and a half years old. My daughter (2 years old) who regularly plays with him, knows him well and asks for him often, threw a stone from our garden on his head half-way through our hang-out. Thank God, he was fine. No bleeding, not even a scratch. But I am shaken. I don't understand why she did it and how it even occurred to her.

I am encouraging her and teaching her always to share with him, which she has a hard time doing. She has thrown a tantrum many a time when he takes something of hers. But she has never thrown an object at anyone before. When we go to the beach, we sometimes through little stones and shells in the water. 

He did take her favorite new toy- a bird house she painted herself and she was upset about that. But I let him have it and explained to her that he is our guest and he can play with her toys. Today i tried to be extra nice to him at the playground and every time I played with him, my daughter would start to cry and pull my hand away.

I am really embarrassed in front of my friend because lately my child seems to always be the one acting out while hers is so well behaved and despite all guidance and efforts, my daughter is not really being a good playmate. And now this incident really topped it off.

My friend is going through a hard time because of an absentee husband/father and I really try to engage her son at play, give him rides on my bicycle, etc... We do a ton of stuff together, take car rides to fun places, I take them out to a cafe once in a while. I feel like my friend really appreciates all that because she doesn't drive and she moved to the States only 2 years ago so she knows almost no one. Also her other son is a baby and he needs to be held constantly, so when we are together i am always looking after her older son and my daughter. 

But now I feel like stepping back because it is uncomfortable to be so involved as my daughter is acting out. What do you think?

post #2 of 16
It might be best to step back until your daughter is a little bit older - and maybe only a couple of months as aggressive phases like this don't usually last long.

Lots of toddlers go through an aggressive phase, and if she's feeling like you are being super nice to another child and are easily upset with her, she might get jealous and that might be making it even worse. I'd give it a bit of time, and then when you get back together with them, try to be conscious to treat your daughter as the special one. Someone else's kid already has someone treating him like their favorite. Your daughter needs to know that she is your favorite. You can be nice to another kid but make sure you heap the affection on your kid as well to keep her feeling special.

Also, try talking to her about her feelings so she has names for them and can say, "I'm jealous" or "I'm angry" rather than lashing out. Empathize and name the emotion. "Oh, you look angry." or "I think I'd be angry if that happened to me." If she can say "Momma, I'm jealous!" it will help you know how she needs you to respond AND keep her from feeling like she has to communicate with physical actions.

Good luck!
post #3 of 16

Kids can't explain emotions the way adults can.  It takes time to figure them out and find words for them (and let's be honest, some adults can't even do that!).  My DD loves to play with other kids and shares well.  But when the neighbor was over to play and they were sharing the slide, DD wanted to push her down the slide the way she does with me.  I explained that her friend didn't want a push but because it was a fairly new game, she had "push" on the brain and proceeded to walk over and push her down while she was just standing next to her mom.  She's been known to wing things across the room, sometimes at people, when in a tantrum and because someone could get hurt or things might get broken, that gets a time out in our house (30 seconds or so in her crib).  Trying to talk with her and reason gets nowhere, she'll just hit and flop to the ground so it's best we remove her for her behavior.  In the case of pushing her friend, her friend went home, play date ended, and DD had to go inside. 

post #4 of 16

I had the same headache but it was happening between my 2 year 9 month daughter and 14 month son. My daughter is alwasy jealous of me loving my son. I don't know how to ease the hate of my daughter. I tried to assure her so many times that she is special to me, and I love her as much as I love her brother....It dosen't work. She is still very upset about it. I feel sorry for her.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yes, it appears true that showing lots of attention to another toddler can trigger annoyance in one's own toddler. It makes a lot of sense since one has to "parent" their own, which includes teaching boundaries, but one can be as sweet as they want and only that with others since they don't have to "parent". WHich is what has caused all of this headache. It makes sense!

post #6 of 16
I have sympathy for the awkwardness of adult friendships undermined by your kid antagonizing her kid. It is an element of social life I was unprepared for and will always dread. AWKWARD. The cleanest way to deal I have found is to immediately get down eye-to-eye with my kid and firmly repeat the family rule she's broken, make her sit with me for five minutes, and tell her we will leave if it happens again (and really leave). The consistency is good for your kid, but it is equally for the parent of the other child to visibly see you take appropriate action. My friendships that have tanked over a child acting out, which all children do, have been because the parent let behaviors slide with no correction, not because of the problem itself. Protect your friendship by making sure your child and your friend both see the behavior is not tolerated.

That said, I found problematic playmates went better when they were a) not at either kids house, and b) were somewhere running could occur like a forest, beach, large garden, etc instead of a park. I have a friend who I only meet with places like that. It's our best chance of a good time possibly arising. Bring snacks your child offers the other kid. Sing marching songs.

Your kid will get older and stop being the problem, by the way. It's remarkable but true. The formerly quiet two-year-olds I knew are pills at five!

And as an aside...before inviting a kid to your house, try allowing your child to cherry pick toys she doesn't want to share, and set them aside for nobody to play with during the playdate. That is fair, something two year olds are very concerned with. Especially new or beloved toys. Explain all the rest must be shared.

Good luck to you!
post #7 of 16

Just reading the OP, I don't think you need to step back if you don't want to. I'd say that you may need to structure your get togetheres a bit differently so that you can closely supervise (so probably not cooking?).  I'm thinking a place with high-interest for the kids (I agree that being a one either kid's home may not be ideal), good visibility and etc. so you can jump in when things start to get aggressive.  


I think I would turn this into a learning experience for both kids. 


Also, what I have noticed when in the role of peace keeper is that it is *VERY* easy create a situation where the interaction when there is a fight is FAR more interesting than the interaction when there isn't. I was careful to make sure that the times when I was intervening with the fight was pretty boring and tried to even guide the play so that the fight was the boring part and the fun part was making amends, getting along, sharing and etc. 

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

This is all super helpful! Except the problem is that my friend is basically not doing anything with her older son when at the playground or visiting or anywhere I take them because she is always and constantly holding her younger son who is a baby (8 mo). He is never in the carriage and she does not put him on the floor or the ground. I have suggested many times that she puts him down, but she always ends up picking him right up. 

As a result her older son (2 1/2 yo) and my daughter (2 yo) are under my supervision. I really don't mind, except that i show a lot of care and get involved in activities with the older son and it seems that is what my daughter is not comfortable with. I have been doing a lot with him and it seems that I have crossed a boundary of some sort because even today at the playground the moment they arrived, my daughter went into defense mode. 

The truth is, I feel for my friend as she is in a very tough spot because of family issues and i don't know how to help her. She is really down and that was my way of "chipping in" - basically standing in for her with her very active older son, but the truth is, that is not much help and is apparently not the right help. She just sits there holding the baby and does not really communicate with the older boy or play or anything... She makes sure he is ok, but that is about it. Low level of energy. She often complains and she has reasons to and i listen and feel super obliged to do something. Things are super awkward now because I have pulled back a little, and she is I guess needing me to do what I used to, but it is causing too much discomfort. Her son comes to me all the time and asks for things, etc... I have to put some distance, there is no other way. It can be hard sometimes for new mothers who are also recent immigrants, I know partly from experience, and i am just trying to help.

It is difficult when you are close with someone to figure out what to do. My daughter is pre-verbal and she is just reacting. I am teaching and explaining to her about sharing, etc. but i think it is not that she has a problem with, but rather me getting so close with another child. It's almost like she doesn't understand it, so it is not ok. But it is ok for me. I don't mind jumping up and helping him climb, or giving him rides on the bike seat, or feeding him or holding his hand/ comforting him when he needs it. There have been times when he is crying and i pick him up and give him a hug, and he calms down. I consider it all a part of being a mother. His mother certainly appreciates it because her hands are always full and she says so. She is also really tired. But maybe i have crossed a boundary by becoming so involved. Maybe it is not appropriate. Who knows. 

post #9 of 16
Terraka, it sounds like your friend has a lot going on. Is it possible that she also has postpartum depression? I definitely understand low energy (I have a 2 week old and a 2.5 year old myself), but I think it is a little strange that she has basically turned over the parenting of her older child to you and she never puts down an 8 month old who can sit and probably crawl on his own and does not need to be held constantly. I will even put down my 2 week old in a safe place when my older son needs me. It sounds like your DD is acting out in a very normal and explicable way. It's your friend whose behavior seems more of an aberration. I would try to get her some help; I don't think taking over for her parenting is the answer, though you've been such a true and caring friend to have given so much of yourself to her already.
post #10 of 16

It could also be an adjustment of different parenting supervision style - though, OP, you would probably know that more than me. What struck me is that if you and I went to the playground together and you enjoyed playing with kids in that way, you would be the one playing with the kids. ;-)  I'm the type of parent who brings kids to the playground so they can play with other kids. I mean, I do supervise but if my kid wasn't acting out, I think I'd probably supervise from the bench too, especially with an infant/young child.  


I say this to give you "permission" to play with your own kid if that's what you do. Yes, you will have to include the other child because that's just what we do when we're playing but there's no need to show him more attention than you give your own child.


I think you are doing a WONDERFUL thing for this mom and are being a great friend to her...but you need to be sure that whatever you are doing feels good to you too. 


Yes, pull back a little if you need. Part of being a good friend is being comfortable with our own boundaries and being sure we aren't becoming resentful. 


Hugs to you - you sound like such a great friend. 

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yes, thanks for pointing that out. I personally dislike sitting on the bench- it is way too boring. If the games are going well, I do have to stand back, and i do.

But it is not just the playground. We go to nature preserves, Manhattan, Brooklyn, we go bike riding and to very big parks and to beaches. 

Those are places that need a lot of hands-on. Also, i am at this point terrified of listening to my friend. It is hard when someone is down and repeats the same type of complaining. Not that I don't want to hear her, I do. But it is the same thing over and over. So I'd rather not sit on the bench and listen. Our neighborhood can be hard on someone like her who has moved to the USA not too long ago, does not drive and does not speak English well. It is isolating. I am like her only friend because we are from the same country. So I feel this obligation to help.

post #12 of 16

It sounds like you are understandably burned out by trying to be a friend who is struggling with a lot of big issues. I don't think you need to feel badly about that. I suggest you be sure to protect yourself and, in effect, protect your friendship, even if that means stepping back or asserting boundaries (you don't have to do that in an "in your face way").  


I was an immigrant of sorts in a country where I didn't speak the language well. I also had a friend take me under her wing and she remained my main source of friendship for the entire time I was there. One very helpful thing she did for me was guide me through the parent support and community programs. Maybe when you have another bit of energy for this mama you could help her navigate some community groups (playdates, library programs, language assistance and etc.). 


Good luck! 

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Then you were probably in a more socially oriented country than the USA! We do have a local library where I happily directed my friend, but I have never heard of any other program there beyond story time for toddlers. Not sure what "parent support" and "community programs" exactly are, but it sounds really nice. Generally the problem here is how incredibly difficult it is to get around with two small children and no ability to drive.

post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by terraka View Post

Then you were probably in a more socially oriented country than the USA! We do have a local library where I happily directed my friend, but I have never heard of any other program there beyond story time for toddlers. Not sure what "parent support" and "community programs" exactly are, but it sounds really nice. Generally the problem here is how incredibly difficult it is to get around with two small children and no ability to drive.

Really?  In NYC, there aren't community programs like sports, parent resource centers, immigrant support, various parenting support groups, YMCA, JCs, clubs, scouts, programs at museums and etc.?  I am currently in the US and in a much smaller city than NYC and we have all of that. ,


Libraries, doctor's offices, Facebook, community centers, news papers, rec leagues and etc. are all good places to start looking. Part of you not knowing about these may have to do with you having young children - it is true that some of these programs don't start until about 4. But, there should be groups like "attachment parenting" groups and general community play groups that meet in parks and etc. There should be toddler reading times and events at museums. These are all things that are offered for free.  If your friend has some extra $ some of the paid museums should have lots of things for kids.  If she registers for a class (parent group) that meets weekly (especially a paid one where folks have extra incentive to come to every session) she will likely meet other parents. 


I am from the US  so I have never been am immigrant here but I can't believe that NYC doesn't have quality immigrant family support for just the kind of thing your friend may need. Here in my city there is a paid parent group affiliated with one of the big Universities (where there are a lot of immigrant families) that is like this "world playgroup" and they really encourage a mulit-cultural experience. 


There are community groups for several languages offered both for members of those cultures and members who just want some cultural exposure. 


Another place to look is some sort of magazine for families in NYC.  


Then there are all these private sector programs. Often child-friendly shops (diaper shops, toy stores, book shops, coffee shops) will offer events for families. 


I think the States certainly do lag behind many other countries on community support BUT there is truly more to offer families than library read alongs. As a new parent and one with young kids, they are this hidden secret but they really are out there...I mean, maybe not in small, small towns but certainly  NYC.  


Apologies if you aren't in NYC but this applies to most mid-sized cities at the very least. 

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yes, IdentityCrisisMa, there is ALL of the above here, absolutely. And, yes, we are in NYC technically, but our neighborhood is on the eastern edge of Queens  closer to Long Island.

We are beyond the excellent subway system and there is a bus, but taking it with an 8 month old and a 2 and a half year old is not fun. They don't allow strollers on it unless they are collapsed and everyone on the bus is very impatient with kids (unless they are retired, they are trying to get to work).

Also, buses require cash, which my friend has almost none of.

She will do all of  the above if I accompany and pay for it and provide the transportation and help with the kids. Which I have done.

These activities are not really for mothers who feel alone and depressed.  They are for mothers who can afford to attend them, can put the effort in it and have support already from family and friends.

But her family is in her native country and she is not moving back there. She has not seen them in two years. Her English is not well developed yet. She is super shy. Her in-laws are in another state. Wherever you were an immigrant, you decided to come back. So perhaps you were just a long-term visitor. It is different with her. She is staying. And the thing is, out neighborhood is not usually where immigrants come. Here everyone is 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation. Except for a few people, I suppose. The only other immigrants ere I have met are from China and we are smiling at each other, but it is not like we can have a conversation. I have been here for 12years. I know how NYC works. She doesn't. I am trying to teach her, but it can be super intimidating. It is! THis is a giant city. It is confusing.

We live in a very very nice area where almost everyone is middle class or up and I have yet to meet a mother without a car. Before I had a car here, it was depressing. And I hate driving. I hate polluting the environment. But I spent 2 hours on public transportation to get to places that i wanted to get to. 

And, no, there is not a free community center here with lots of activities, free swimming, etc. within walking distance (like in certain parts of Canada, Denmark and France where I have visited and seen it with my eyes, but it's taxpayer $). The library is within walking distance (it is a private library but it is free), that is it. And churches! CHurches are around.

Also, NYC has an attitude type called fronting (at least I call it that way). You have to be tough here. Even in an exclusive neighborhood like ours. It's almost like if you are not tough, you don't belong. It's crazy, it's not very friendly. It's not like New Orleans where people smile and say hello right off the bat. 

I know exactly what you are referring to, but I think the issue here is that my friend is not breaking out of her little mold, and the way I have been helping is not the best. And there are so many limitations. 

post #16 of 16
Originally Posted by terraka View Post

I know exactly what you are referring to, but I think the issue here is that my friend is not breaking out of her little mold, and the way I have been helping is not the best. And there are so many limitations. 

Yes, that's  what it sounds like. The reality is that your friend has to find her way without relying on you for everything and that there are opportunities for her and that perhaps there is a depression issue that is getting in the way of her embracing them. You should not feel like you can overcome issues of depression and isolation for your friend.  I would say that you have done well by trying to help and with what energy you have left as a friend may be best directed in getting her the help she needs to find resources outside of yourself, yk?  Good luck to your and your friend! luxlove.gif

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