My 2 year old bully - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 02-21-2011, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
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My daughter will be 2 on the first of March and we seriously need to do something about her bullying behavior. She really only picks on one little girl, my full time daycare girl. I've had her since she was 14 weeks old and my daughter was 10 weeks old, so they've grown up together like sisters.


As time goes by, my daughter has become out right mean to this little girl. It started with biting several months ago. She isn't the only person my daughter bites, but she is the victim most often. Now, DD doesn't want my daycare girl to play with any of the toys. She pushes, hits, smacks her on the head, bites, etc. They used to play together pretty well the majority of the time. They'd sit on the Lego table and build blocks together, trade baby dolls back and forth, race strollers around the house. Now, DD doesn't want anything to do with her.


When she's physical with her, DD is removed from the situation and daycare girl is comforted. I try to go a little over the top with the comfort because I want DD to see that my attention is focused on the one she hurt, if that makes sense. DD will kiss the boo-boo she caused and give hugs, say she's sorry... without any prompting from me most of the time. I hate to say it this way, but it seems like she just doesn't like her and I don't know quite how to handle that.


I have another part-time daycare girl around the same age and DD plays really well with her. They laugh, giggle, play little games together, build blocks together. I don't know if it's just because she's a new face or because their personalities work better together. I really don't like the way she's treating the other little girl. It's unfair to the little girl and it's extremely inappropriate behavior for my daughter. How do I teach that to a 2 year old?


DH thinks we should utilize time out, but she's really too young to understand what that means. I'm not totally opposed to time out when the kid is old enough to know what it means. He's also brought up spanking, but I quickly nipped that in the bud. We were both spanked growing up and I have constantly keep myself in check when she's acting this way, because it is almost a natural reaction to want to spank her... that's what would have happened to me when I was a kid. I explained to DH that in this situation, spanking is only going to show her that it's okay to hurt other people when we're angry with them, which is exactly the behavior we're trying to correct.


Any suggestions?

Mallory. Happily married to Joe since 6/25/05. Loving my adventure with my girls, Owyn Samantha, born 3/1/09. dust.gif and Greta June, born 11/2/11  babygirl.gif

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#2 of 5 Old 02-21-2011, 08:51 PM
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You say that the little girl is almost like a sister to your dd.  Kids will fight way more with their siblings than almost anyone else.  I wonder if there's a dynamic like that at play - they see each other all the time, right?  It could explain too while your dd can play well with the new part-time daycare girl, but not with the one she's known "forever". 


Your dd is just turning 2 and that is when the "NO! MINE!"s start to kick in big time.  Her behaviour is not "acceptable", but it is textbook normal, I promise you that.  I encourage you to try not to think of her as a "bully", even in your own mind.  You are laying older-kid intentions on her little toddler actions.


It seems like there are 2 mains things at play.  One is that she doesn't want to share her toys.  The other is that her way of communicating her anger/frustration/etc is to hit/bite/etc.


Some things we've tried to do around here to ease the difficulty of sharing is to talk about it as "taking turns" (daycaregirl is taking her turn with the doll, when she's done you can take a turn with the doll), tried to have doubles or multiples of most kinds of toys (ie. daycaregirl is playing with a ball, dd wants the ball, you re-direct her to play with a different ball), and orchestrated trades.  Another thought that comes to mind for your particular situation.  Would it be possible to have a box of toys that only comes out during "daycare" time?  That way it isn't that dd has to share *her* toys, but that they are both playing with neutral toys.  It might help a bit.


Regarding the hitting, biting, etc, I think you need to address it in a couple of ways.  First of all there's the immediate safety of the other kid(s) to take into consideration.  While your dd is going through this phase you need to be on her like a hawk.  Watch for any signs that she might be gearing up to strike out and intervene before it happens (ideally).  Also keep an eye out for her general mood - is she hungry? tired?  Kids who are running low on energy are way more likely to act out than well-fed and well-rested kids.  Try to make sure you stay on top of offering frequent snacks and not letting nap time get pushed too late, etc.


The other aspect of the hitting etc that you can start working on is teaching her not just how NOT to act, but how TO act when she's feeling angry, sad or frustrated.  Give her the words to her emotions (ex. "dd is mad!  dd wants the doll!").  She is still v. young so keep it simple for now.  Start the ground work now by explaining that she needs to use her words instead of hitting, and if she's having a problem with another kid she can come to you for help.  She has pretty minimal impulse control at this point so I wouldn't expect to see any major changes right now, but I still think it's important to start the dialogue about problem-resolution even from a young age.


I think you are absolutely right that she is (probably... some might disagree) too young to "get" time-outs.  I'm also very happy to hear that the idea of spanking has been removed from the table.  At this age I think your best bet is to a) keep a very close eye on her to head off confrontations, b) use distraction/re-direction whenever possible, and c) try to set yourself up for success by making sure everyone's well-fed and well-rested.


Good luck mama, it's a tough age, but it will pass!

Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#3 of 5 Old 02-22-2011, 10:46 AM
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I have a daycare, and my daughter was just like your daughter.  She mostly picked on (attacked) one boy.  This boy was here more hours than the other kids, and when we went on vacation, or shopping at night, we took him.  So, he was just like a brother to her.  They were together more than they weren't.  He was sometimes a pain in the neck.  He broke anything he could break.  But, she would bite him ALL.DAY.LONG!  She was so horribly mean to him, I  thought I was going to have to put HER in daycare.  


I started using a playpen.  I was desperate.  I actually called a well known family psychologist about it.. he suggested the playpen.  I put toys in there for her, and that was her place to chill out when she was biting.  It worked within three days.  She just wanted her own space.  When she got older I put a gate up in the hallway and let her go over the gate to play alone in her room.  


I never shared her toys with the daycare kids.  There was daycare toys and space, and her toys and space, so she always had a place to go.  I just didn't know she wanted a place to go and get away.


They grew up together, and we moved away when they were 12.  They were together every single day until the kids turned 12.  They are still like siblings or cousins now at age 18.   

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#4 of 5 Old 02-22-2011, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been trying so hard to come up with a space that could just be hers. We really don't have that for her. Her bedroom is small and the play space for daycare kids is in the main part of the house, so it's neutral territory. We've been meaning to turn the basement into a playroom to have a separate daycare area, but that space has really turned into a much-needed storage area. The simple fact is, we're out of room in this house for daycare. When I started, I had my daughter, the little girl and my nephew, all under a year old. The living room was enough for infants, but it's just not anymore now that they're all toddlers.


I used to keep a pack and play in the living area when I had a small infant, but she's 7 months old now and the older kids have adjusted to playing more gently with her. So, I had put it away not even thinking it could be used for the older ones. I'll get it back out and try to create a space in there. I have been thinking about rearranging her bedroom to make it more of a separate area, now I'm really going to get started on that. I should have time this weekend to separate out the play things and move some furniture around.


Thank you so much for your reply. I have been at my wit's end. I just hate seeing her be so mean to someone we all love so much. I know it's just because they're like siblings. Today at lunch they were arguing over who was done eating. DD: "My done eating!" Daycare girl: "No, MY done eating!". This went back and forth until I was finished cleaning them both up and put them down, telling them they could both be done eating, it's not a competition. So much like sisters bickering!


I had been toying with the idea of letting her have a regular day out of the house. My sister is a SAHM with a daughter 4 months older than DD. I was really thinking about asking if DD could go play over there one day a week, which I hate to even think about. I do daycare at home so that I can be at home with my own daughter. I don't want to feel like it's not good for her. So, we're definitely going to try this before doing anything else. She needs her own space, for sure.

Mallory. Happily married to Joe since 6/25/05. Loving my adventure with my girls, Owyn Samantha, born 3/1/09. dust.gif and Greta June, born 11/2/11  babygirl.gif

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#5 of 5 Old 03-02-2011, 12:32 PM
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One reason your DD might not like her is because the other little girl doesn't know how to defend herself. She allows your DD to cross boundaries and that could make your DD feel insecure. You are doing right by comforting the other little girl but that is after the fact. What are you doing to prevent your daughter from hurting her, take her toys, etc.?


What I did with my daughter because kids were mean to her and she is not even 2: We went to the park with her favorite toy. Other kids wanted to take it, I told my daughter


"Hold on to your baby. You don't have to share it. I will stay right by you."

"Say "No.""

"Lets go somewhere else."

"You don't have to stay here" if the kids were acting in an unsafe manner.

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