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Help- Playgroup Problem

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
We have a great playgroup of 6 moms with babes that are all turning 1 this summer. We began whene they were a few weeks old. We are all very different, but that has always been nice - never a problem. We disagree about some things - 3 co-sleepers, 3 cloth diapers, 3 CIO (not the same 3), etc.

So, we have one child who has always been more agressive. He is the oldest, but only older than my ds by 3 weeks, so at this point it is so insignificant. His mother is into never saying NO, or only for very important things, and I agree in principle. I rarely say no, but I do say other things instead. This child spends all of playgroup stealing toys for the others and then when he gets it he just throws it down and takes another. He doesn't want to play with then,just take them. His mother laughs at this and says "ds only wants the toys when others have them" ha, ha. She never intervenes and stops he child, even when it makes another child cry after he does it 10 times.

Twice now he has biten another child. Once while his mom was taking care of the other child for an hour and again today at the park. Today he drew blood.

The mom of this child does not say anything. Not sorry to the other mom, not "be gentle" or "we don't bite people" or "biting hurts", nothing.

What should we do?

I want to tell her that I am uncomfotable having her child at playgroups at my house or with my ds because of his aggressive behavior and her lack of intervention. How should do this? What should I say?

post #2 of 10
Well, I'd want to punch her in the face. hard.

That said, we have no idea what she does at home, she could be emarrassed or at a loss at what to do. Biting is a big issue for me. I would have a hard time seeing my child and others being bit, all while the mother does *nothing*. I think i could sort of handle it, if the mother was at least trying. this is where the line gets fuzzy. how do you approach a mother who seemingly does little or nothing to "discipline" or redirect her wayward child. Certain behaviors although normal in a developmental sense, still need to be addressed. It might very well be normal that at his age he takes toys or bites, but that doesnt mean your child has to be bitten and constantly have toys taken away and made to cry. That is simply not acceptable. I would be direct, approach the mother, and say "Johnny bit Megan again. What can we do when we are together to avoid this in the future?".

Nip this one in the bud.
post #3 of 10
Ouch. That's a hard one. How do the other parents feel?

Since you're uncomfortable having her, you do need to say something. but she may not respond well if you have to get blunt to get her attention. Maybe something along the lines of' I know how you feel about saying no but at my house that behavior isn't allowed.'

It really is a sticky situation, mama. I've had to tell a parent or 2 that we don't certian things here. My house my rules. Of course, phrased a little more tactfully.
post #4 of 10
Hmm...I see from your signature that these babies in the playgroup are all nearing their first birthday. Babies this age are really too young to have many social skills. The toy-grabbing and toy throwing are totally normal at this age and it would be unrealistic to expect this child to share or "play nicely" if he isn't inclined to. It would be considerate of his mother to try to redirect him, but no way can babies this age share.

As for the biting, chances are this baby has no idea he is hurting people. His mother isn't responding properly though. Do you consider her to be a friend? It would hurt her horribly if she felt her son was rejected from your playgroup. Maybe you could tactfully give her some advice about how to handle a biter. ("My brother used to bite when he was a baby and my mom handled it this way...") No one wants a child who bites and it's probably very embarassing for her when this happens and she doesn't know what to do.
post #5 of 10
Moving this to Parenting Issues!
post #6 of 10
Just posting to add that to a 10-11 month old baby, the phrase "biting hurts" is meaningless. This baby is still very much in the oral stage and to him there's no difference between biting another child and biting a toy. His mother needs to watch him like a hawk so she can pick him up quickly if she sees him going for another child with his mouth.

Also, at this age, I wouldn't necessarily take the biting as a sign of aggression. A few of my own kids (I have 4) went through a stage at about 11-12 months of coming up to me and biting me on the thigh. It hurt, but I could see that it was more of an experimental thing than an act of aggression. They all outgrew it and none of my children are aggressive.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
I agree that the behavior is normal and that talking to them is not totally effective as they don't understand yet. In this case, I do belive it is aggressive behavior. I am amazed by this child actually. In this case he was trying to take a toy and the other child kept holding on and the fought over it until the boy bend down and bite him on the arm.

My concern is not so much with dealing with the child, as dealing with the mom. My ds also bites me occasionally, so I know it happens, but I watch him very closely. This mama leave lots of the parenting to the others but gets upset if you intervene with her child. She doesn't watch him, lets him crawl far away, etc.

I have talked to the other mamas and we are thinking maybe we will have a discussion about discipline collectively which is not directed at this chihld but at all the kids, since they will all have their own issues along the way.

post #8 of 10
Your group is changing from babies to toddlers, a transition that can be hard to make, especially if the moms have mostly been hanging out with others with similarly-aged children. You might find a lot of toddler behaviour horrifying -- at first.

Handle this situation as you would want it to be handled if your child was the aggressor. The fact is, your child is still very young, and you don't know yet what kind of toddler issues you'll be dealing with in the coming year. Some compassion now might come in handy later.

That said, don't let your child be bit. I would rather cancel playgroup than subject my child to biting.

I was a big playgroup junkie in my dd's first year, but I no longer enjoy them. There's something crazy about a gaggle of same-aged tots playing together inside. It requires a lot of parental supervision and allows for very little parent chat time.

You might want to consider one-on-one playdates, or outdoor meetings (more physical space often leads to less aggression -- the kids are too busy running). Another thing I've found useful in the second year is befriending children of different ages. Sometimes two 18-month-olds playing together doesn't work, but an 18-month-old playing with a three-year-old will.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't be afraid to make changes, to adjust to the new toddler reality. What worked in the past isn't going to work now. You and your friend might not be able to see one another as much while her child is biting, or you may be able to see one another, but in different situations, not at playgroup, but for stroller walks, where the children are contained and not very likely to cause one another harm. Try to remember that your friend is not evil, her child is not evil, and that she is probably struggling with this too.

Oh, and I wouldn't recommend that you tell her that she is not handling it correctly. I don't think that will go over too well. You should just do what you have to do (1) to protect your child and (2) to continue your relationship with her (to the extent that you want to, that is), but you shouldn't try to worry about her parenting methods, because that's her job!
post #9 of 10
I started a playgroup last year and have really enjoyed it. This last 2 months it has jumped from a group of 5 regular moms to 10 moms with their kids. We also have come across a situation with a sweet little boy who is 3 and very intense with his playing, alot of shoving and pushing the kids, he was only targeting one little boy his age and we talked to the"victims" mom about if she wanted it to be handled by the group or one on one, she tried to hanlde it on her own. Now it has become a gropu thing. So I decided to lay down some ground rules, with the playgroup. Very common sense ones I think. I told the moms that none of the kids are old enought to handle conflict soley on their own they all still need our supervision and at times for us to intervene, so there is no hitting or shoving other kids. I know kids will have conflict and they are all still learning their boundaries and what that means for us as moms is to use that time to help teach them the correct way to handle the situation. I said that we enjoy all the kids and moms and we make a real nice and fun group and we all want to keep it that way, I added that there is a saying we could follow here,"mom to one mom to all" so if we see a promblem alert the childs mom right away and the mom needs to know that it is done out of care for their child. It has so far gone well after that little speech.

Also wanted to add we have less agrresive play when we have activities planned for the kids, the wether is warming up here so we have gone to a farm and the zoo, last week we went to a nature park and went on a hike. We did arts& crafts and made tie dye shirts for the kids. We bought the kids butterfly nets and bug boxes and they went on a bug hunt. Anytime the kids are getting antsy or fighting over things more we bring out the playdough and bubbles. I could not stop going to my playgroup because of one mom, my kids love getting together with their friends and I have come to love the kids also. I would definately handle it as a group thing and adress the whole group and keep it generalized, so no single mom feels targeted. I hope it works out well for you keep us posted.
post #10 of 10
Bubbles really can defuse a touchy situation. I try to carry a bottle on me at all times.

Edited not once but twice for spelling. Anything else I missed?
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