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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,<br><br>
I am starting to wonder if it's safe for my 2 1/2 yr. old to hang out with our good friends' aggressive older child. We have been good friends for a number of years, and their younger child and mine play reasonably well together, but the second I turn my back, the older one tries to bait my child by taking toys, or injures or attempts to injure my child. I end up spending our time together monitoring the play and trying to keep my child from being victimized. My child is also a late talker and is going through a very frustrated period where he does sometimes hit or kick, so I hate to put him into a situation that encourages this. I get pretty upset about this kid's behavior, and then feel really guilty that I feel that way about my friends' child, but I really feel like there is something genuinely wrong with this little guy. I don't want to hurt my friends' feelings, but I can't subject my child to this anymore, my child is now afraid to be alone with this child. What should I do?!
 

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Imagine if your kiddo was eight and in this situation. I think the answer would be more obvious, but somehow we've come to tolerate and sometimes expect aggression in toddlers. What a shame.<br><br>
If it were me, I would discontinue the playdates and try to get together with my friend alone. I think I would just say, "I'm so distracted supervising the kids when we're together that I can't pay attention to our time together".<br><br>
I know what it's like to have a kid who seems to be the target and is not aggressive while at the same time seems to imitate aggressive behaviors learned when with others. I've really limited her playdates because of it, even with my best friend. Her dd is just waaaaay too bossy and aggressive.
 

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How much older is the child? 5 or 6? 3 1/2? While a 3 1/2 year old might seem mighty grown up to you, it's not that much older, they don't have that much more self control!<br><br>
Many, many children need near constant supervision at this age. What I would do is determine whether it's a playdate for your son, or a friend date for you. If it's a 'friend date', then think about trying to do it without kids -- you'll get better conversation in and won't have to worry about the kids.<br><br>
You can try again in 3-6 months to see if the kids have matured to the point where they can play together for short periods of time. Some kids never do get along with the kids of their parent's friends. It's OK.
 

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Have you tried talking to your friend? I have the child that is aggressive. He is also sweet and wonderful. But I don't think my friends would know that if we didn't have a wonderful open relationship. I have no reservations about my friends parenting my child. And they don't have a problem with me parenting their children. When the actual parent is unavailable, that is.<br><br>
My friends are able to see the positive side of my child, but I don't know if they would have done that had they just avoided me when they were frustrated with the child that was aggressive. Is it possible that your friend doesn't know what to do? Or is she really overwhelmed? Of does she really not care?<br><br>
I think when you have the aggressive child you need extra support from your friends to help you through the aggressive times.
 

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<i>I think when you have the aggressive child you need extra support from your friends to help you through the aggressive times.</i><br><br>
This is true, but not at the expense of the safety of your own child.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>ktmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10803604"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">This is true, but not at the expense of the safety of your own child.</div>
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Yes, but kids are a lot more sturdy than give them credit for. They are not china dolls, and I think that, IME, people are way more sensitive to others than their child is and as adults we view the aggression differently and we adults inadvertently make our children hesitant around other children when we are unsure of the aggression or child that is aggressive.<br><br>
I am not saying the it's ok or should be ignored. But is the solution to isolate the mom and the child that is having a hard time? What if the tables were turned? Would it be ok to have your child (generic 'your'-not specifically you<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/wink1.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="wink1"> ) be isolated and have you abandoned by your friends because of a normal developmental stage that some children go through?<br><br>
Not all children are aggressive, aggressive is also very subjective. To me, aggressive is not what I know others to see aggressive as, but aggression in many forms is a natural part of childhood that has to be worked through and not being aggressive, is for some children a lesson not as easily learned. Plus, depending on the age, aggression really does depend on the eye of the beholder. To someone with a 1 year old a 5 year old can seem huge and wild and mean, but to the mom with a 1 <span style="text-decoration:underline;">and</span> 4 year old the same behavior is normal and expected. Not aggressive at all.<br><br>
And 'safety of your own child' is also subjective. Safety from a child wielding scissors and coming after other kids, safety from the 'flying child', the one that is more rambunctious, safety from the child that just is running and jumping and loud when you have a crawler or early walker and safety from the biter (that was at one time the bitee-therefore a learned behavior) are all quite different.<br><br>
I think that many aspects of 'safety' and 'aggression' are subjective.
 

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It's hard to give advice without a lot more information: is the "aggresive older child" much larger physically than your child? How much older is he or she? And, most importanly, what does your friend do about it? Is she right there supervising the play and disciplining her child whenever the behavior is innapropriate? Or does she make light of the situation and not intervene?<br><br>
The fact that your little one is afraid of the other child is a good reason to hold off on playdates for a while- but not forever. Talk to your friend about your concerns, and see what you can work out together. Maybe get together without the kids at all. Maybe get together with just the little ones (if she's got somebody who can stay with the bigger one.) Maybe there's something she can do during the playdates to keep your child safe.
 

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I have had more than one friend whose child was overly aggressive, and whose parenting style I found overly permissive and passive. The mamas oversympathized with their aggressive children while my child got repeatedly hurt. Interventions were ineffective and the behaviour continued.<br><br>
Damn I think that sucks. I feel really, really angry that this happens, and IME it happens pretty frequently with 'GD' type mamas I know IRL. I have decided not to have my child play with (and be exposed to resulting violence from) aggressive children. I either intervene directly with the child, or if that becomes too exhausting I have distanced my child from my friend's. Which is too bad, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Violent behaviour that is repeated is not okay.
 

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If you are good friends with this other mom, I'm sure you could discuss it with her. Honestly, I think avoiding your friend is a bad call. What if the tables were turned? Would you want your friend to "abandon" you? Your child is going to learn a valuable lesson from this friendship...How to deal with others and that everyone is different.<br><br>
Some kids are just agressive. My good friend has agressive kiddos, while my younger two are more passive...And niether of us are permissive or passive and the agressive behavior is NOT tolerated. It's not fair to blame the parents right away when you really dont' know the whole issue. So what if little Johnny hits little Suzy once in awhile. Or even bites or pulls hair. It happens with kids...We cannot expect adult behavior out of kids. As long as the mom is handling the agressiveness, I think it's fine. We cannot shelter our kids from every little thing. Teach your son, by your actions, that we do not give up on our friends.<br><br>
You know, I rarely come to this forum, and when I do I am surprised at it. With all the effort we put into natural childbirth, natural living, etc etc, I am surprised that we take such a "hands on, controlling" approach to our children. Step back, see how they handle it once in awhile. Sometimes its our interference that makes the situation worse. Recently, in a battle for control over a toy piano, my 15 month old and her "agressive" 20 month old friend had a screeching, shoving match and my DD realized she could stick up for herself and stood her ground. They worked it out themselves. What a valuable skill!<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>catemom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10788624"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Hi,<br><br>
I am starting to wonder if it's safe for my 2 1/2 yr. old to hang out with our good friends' aggressive older child. We have been good friends for a number of years, and their younger child and mine play reasonably well together, but the second I turn my back, the older one tries to bait my child by taking toys, or injures or attempts to injure my child. I end up spending our time together monitoring the play and trying to keep my child from being victimized. My child is also a late talker and is going through a very frustrated period where he does sometimes hit or kick, so I hate to put him into a situation that encourages this. I get pretty upset about this kid's behavior, and then feel really guilty that I feel that way about my friends' child, but I really feel like there is something genuinely wrong with this little guy. I don't want to hurt my friends' feelings, but I can't subject my child to this anymore, my child is now afraid to be alone with this child. What should I do?!</div>
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I need more info on the age/size of the other kid before I opine as well. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
I'm noticing that you say that your child hits and kicks....and that you feel the other child is "baiting" yours.<br><br>
So the other child "wrongs" your child and your child responds with hitting.....<br><br>
If we're talking about two littles here, I'd sit with my body between them and play and talk to my friend. I've had a lot of fun doing that.
 

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<i>I have had more than one friend whose child was overly aggressive, and whose parenting style I found overly permissive and passive. The mamas oversympathized with their aggressive children while my child got repeatedly hurt. Interventions were ineffective and the behaviour continued.<br><br>
Damn I think that sucks. I feel really, really angry that this happens, and IME it happens pretty frequently with 'GD' type mamas I know IRL. I have decided not to have my child play with (and be exposed to resulting violence from) aggressive children. I either intervene directly with the child, or if that becomes too exhausting I have distanced my child from my friend's. Which is too bad, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Violent behaviour that is repeated is not okay.</i><br><br>
This is totally where I'm at. And I feel that I don't have to subject my kids to violence of any kind to teach them resiliency and problem solving.
 

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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>ktmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10804814"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;"><i>I have had more than one friend whose child was overly aggressive, and whose parenting style I found overly permissive and passive. The mamas oversympathized with their aggressive children while my child got repeatedly hurt. Interventions were ineffective and the behaviour continued.<br><br>
Damn I think that sucks. I feel really, really angry that this happens, and IME it happens pretty frequently with 'GD' type mamas I know IRL. I have decided not to have my child play with (and be exposed to resulting violence from) aggressive children. I either intervene directly with the child, or if that becomes too exhausting I have distanced my child from my friend's. Which is too bad, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Violent behaviour that is repeated is not okay.</i><br><br>
This is totally where I'm at. And I feel that I don't have to subject my kids to violence of any kind to teach them resiliency and problem solving.</div>
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Nevermind.
 

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Hmm, I think instead of limiting the playdates, perhaps have more supervision, especially if you deeply care about the "aggressive" child's Mom. I think Max'sMama has a good point, your friend probably needs more help because of the child's behaviour, yk? I'd feel terrible if I found out no one wanted my kids and me over to their house.<br><br>
I have a wonderful, caring friend who has two very disobedient children. We used to have playdates every week but after a while, I couldn't take the chaos anymore and I cancelled our weekly visits. Now, looking back, I realize that was a huge mistake. My friend really needed those playdates as she was going through such a hard time in her marriage. I do find she's a little too passive as a parent, and I do tell her so, lol. But I think I should have been much more understanding. And I think all we needed to do is supervise the kids more and perhaps engage them in activies, instead of us chatting about this and that and not really paying attention to what our kids were doing. I mean really, all our kids are sooo young and don't know any better. It's up to us as parents to help guide them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for your responses, moms! I worry about my child's (2 1/2yrs.) safety mostly because I've seen this almost 4 yr. old kid harm newborn babies and children two or three yrs older than him. I've also had no indication that my friends think it is a big problem that should be dealt with. I think they are leaning pretty heavily toward the "free range kid" philosophy of parenting, but their son is not really learning social skills. Most of the time, their child is either playing by himself or terrorizing other children. The last time we spent time with this family, I asked the child if I could get some food for him, and his response was to make a gun with his hand and pretend to shoot me (no smile, no laughter, just a cold stare). Anyway, I am writing these details so that you can understand more about the situation. I hate to criticize my good friends, I'm no blue ribbon parent myself. I'm just so exasperated with the situation. Thank you all so much for your input, I really appreciate it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>chfriend</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/10804693"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I need more info on the age/size of the other kid before I opine as well. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
I'm noticing that you say that your child hits and kicks....and that you feel the other child is "baiting" yours.<br><br>
So the other child "wrongs" your child and your child responds with hitting.....<br><br>
If we're talking about two littles here, I'd sit with my body between them and play and talk to my friend. I've had a lot of fun doing that.</div>
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My son is certainly no angel, but when a toy is being grabbed away he will get a little physical (I've never seen him really hurt another kid or make them cry). He only kicks our poor dog right now<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment">, and he mainly does it because he thinks it's play. The child I'm talking about sees my child playing happily and will either take a toy from him or take a toy he is moving toward.
 

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OP, I am in your boat right now myself.<br><br>
*Some* aggression is normal in small children. Snatching, pushing, occasional hitting - it is all normal and expected but is NOT to be tolerated.<br><br>
Constant aggression from a small child, with constant hitting, pushing, hurting others is not necessarily normal and is a royal pain in the arse for the other kids and parents involved. I have a friendship that is slowly dying because her daughter who is taller and about 50% heavier than mine is very violent. It is well-recognized within our huge moms group that this child is far more aggressive than other kids. It is also becoming well-recognized that the behavior is being dealt with in a very permissive manner. Intervention, staying physically close, prevention, and stopping it as soon as it starts are the best tools with a child like this and it is repeatedly not being handled that way. (I have given this mom books, links, recommended sites, and even parented her child the way I woudl my own, but her approach doesn't change)<br><br>
No one wants to see punitive measures taken, but this simply cannot be allowed. Being a gentle disciplinarian does not mean being permissive and having no boundaries (at least not to most of us!).<br><br>
The child is frequently rewarded for the behavior even, like if she shoves someone off of a toy or whatever, she is then allowed to still ride the toy, play with the toy, whatever. I am progressively getting very resentful.<br><br>
They are at every event for my Ap mom's group, so if I am to stay away (which would be my preference for my child to not always have to be bullied like this), it means I would either have to stay home all the time and go crazy or join a mainstream group (ugh).<br><br>
Frankly, I am at my wits end, and just wanted to empathize with you.
 

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It's not always the parent. Sometimes a child just is more "spirited". I know because I have an aggressive almost 5 year old. Some parents may think I am too permissive, so I have distanced myself from them. Though there are consequences for his actions. And often I see children egging him on pressing his buttons and their moms don't seem to do anything about it. Normal kid things I mean, it's just that my child reacts much more strongly than most kids. And once he's charged up, forget it. We don't have playgroups at our house mostly because I need to be able to leave if he doesn't calm down. Currently, there is only one child who my child hangs out with and I do talk to his mother about it. Believe me, I feel terrible when he hits other children and I am the parent who never socializes as I am down there with the kids trying to prevent any aggressive behavior before it erupts.<br><br>
Edited to add: I think it's a good idea to get together without the kids, but tell the mother the reason why. I have a friend who told me she didn't want our kids to get together because of my child's aggressive behavior. I am really glad she was direct and I understand her reasoning. I am hurt though because now I never get to see my friend. She's always too busy for me. I have another good friend who I distanced myself from because my child, for some reason, hates her child. As soon as the two of them are in the same room, my child attacks him. And I miss my friend. I should have been hanging out with her without the kids, which I will try to do soon.
 

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Find a way to nicely talk to your friend to find ways to help the children learn NICE and COOPERATIVE ways to play together. Have it be a LEARNING experience rather than punitive or competitive-better than situation.<br><br>
Above all, you need to keep your child safe. You don't have to be the police, yet you can intervene before things become a problem and help them come up with their own ideas about sharing or playing together. I think kids need to be taught to play together; it seems if left alone it can become an alpha dog situation where the children struggle to have their own way because emotions run high. Of course it depends on the kids.<br><br>
I have been in this situation... where my son was on the receiving end of aggressive behavior in his playgroup. I kept going thinking things would improve, but they didn't. Each time something would happen everyone would be apologetic, but things didn't change.<br><br>
I know it can be uncomfortable to talk about parenting differences or conflicts between children... Yet things won't change unless you do/say something.<br><br>
Good luck
 

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catemom, when my older dd was around 2, we had a neighbor who was around 3. 5. He was substantially bigger than my kid and agressive in a lot of the ways that you describe. He had a mother who was very ap and kind. He also had a father who was a groovy yoga teacher who I witnessed on many occasions belittle, grag, yank, scold and treat over roughly this little kid.<br><br>
dp and I made a commitment to keep our bodies between him and our dd. It was the kindest thing we did for that family. The mom was getting isolated because of her son's behavior, which people routinely blamed on the fact that she was a nice person.<br><br>
I don't know if he eventually grew out of it because they moved. I know that using this system the neighbor kids were able to play together and enjoy themselves, which is something I valued. And my dd felt my commitment to protect her and her play.
 

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I am the mother of a 3.5 year old who is finally growing out of an almost 1-year phase of aggressive behaviour. It has been at times a heart-breaking, frustrating journey for me and yet also an incredible learning opportunity. The biggest thing I've learned is not to judge. Kids are all different, and much of their personalities comes despite the parents best efforts. Parents struggling with aggressive little ones need compassion and empathy, not blaming or isolation.<br><br>
With that said, my dear friend and I had to back off the playdates for a while after her middle child became afraid of my child (they'd known each other since birth - born only 3 days apart). It was sad for me but I totally understood and she was honest about it. I so respected her for that. After a time we started out "small" - meeting at places where there were other children, or outdoors, etc. We worked through it. Perhaps the OP could change the locale of where you meet with your friend, to a playground or activity centre where there is space for your child to do something away from the aggressive child? Or to play with other children?<br><br>
My feeling is that when you know your child is aggressive it is your responsibility to protect other children. For me this meant many, many occasions where I was shadowing my child, literally a few inches away from him in situations I knew could be triggers for him. I missed out on lots of mom time, great conversations with the other mothers, etc. And I did feel rather sorry for myself, but at the same time my child deserved to be out and playing and having fun, not isolated. Yet again it was my responsibility, not other parents', to make sure my child didn't hurt anybody. And it allowed me to be present before things got too out of hand, and to present my child with other options like using his words instead of his hands (he was speech-delayed, which was part of the problem).<br><br>
I did not punish him. I would tell him that hitting/scratching/pushing was not okay. I'd try to point out the other child's reaction (crying, etc) but he had not yet developed the ability to empathize or control his reactions. Still, he understood English and he got that what he was doing was wrong. As his impulse-control and empathy developed he got better at controlling himself and seeing how his actions were affecting others.<br><br>
He's now almost 3.5 and there's been a huge improvement. Still, I know he's not 100% reliable and I do watch out when he's in a situation where I know it may trigger him (he's so much bigger and stronger than other kids his age, which is part of the problem).<br><br>
Anyways, that's the other side of the story. I think the OP should either back off the playdates and be honest (and gentle!) with her friend, or the two of you should find other places to get together where the OP's child can choose to play with other kids or other activities to get some space away from the aggressive child...
 
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