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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My good friend and I trade childcare duties four afternoons per week. Two afternoons I take her daughter and two afternoons she takes mine. The girls are great friends (to the extent that two-year-olds can be, talking about each other incessantly and such) and both girls are very happy in the company of either mother.

My friend's daughter, A, is 27 months old and can be extremely territorial and aggressive. She's the sort of child that one can't leave their own child alone with, for fear that she'll push or hit. Invariably at playgroups and such, if you hear a child suddenly cry, A will be right next to that child. My friend generally addresses this behavior by telling A that we don't hit/push/take toys and that's not nice. Then she's stay very close so that when the inevitable next incident is about to occur, she can stop it before it happens. In general, I feel like A's violent behaviors have been decreasing, at least slightly, lately.

My daughter, E, does not hit.

Please don't read the above as "my child is an angel and the other is horrible," because that's not what I'm trying to get across.

Yesterday, I took the girls to the zoo. All was well. About two hours into the outing, we were at the playground. A little boy went down a slide that A had been down several minutes before and she went and threw some sand at him. Several minutes later, A threw a handful of sand at E. On both occasions I said "A, we don't throw sand at other people. That's not nice." She proceeded to do it again and I thought "redirect!" so I said that if she needed to throw sand, she could throw it in one particular direction because there were no people there. That worked beautifully for a few minutes and I was patting myself on the back for being such a good gentle disiplinarian.

Then she started throwing sand back in E's direction but just to one side of her. After each throw, she'd look at me to see my reaction. I just said "A, that's too close to E, if you want to throw sand, please throw it that way."

Since the sand situation was persisting, I decided to change both girls' diapers and then head home. I changed A's and then when I had E down for hers, A came up and dumped a handful of sand right on her face while she was lying on her back. So I said something along the lines of that's it, we're going home, you know that throwing sand at other people is not allowed and isn't nice but you did it anyway.

I can't remember the exact order of everything that happened, but there are a few points I want to make in the interest of keeping this from being *too* long. Whenever I speak at all sternly to A, which is generally when she's done something anti-social repeatedly, she starts whining "mommy..." in a way that feels manipulative to me. I feel sure that she knows when she's doing something wrong because she predictably looks to me for a reaction both before and after. Generally, when she starts whining like this, I remind her that she chose to do whatever it was that has me displeased with her.

On the way back to our bike, we had a general power struggle, with her taking off and throwing her shoes (she knows that she has to wear shoes when walking on the street), or her kneeling down and refusing to walk, etc. This was difficult because I would normally just pick her up and carry her, but I had my daughter, too, and I couldn't carry both and mine was very tired (no nap) and wasn't too pleased about having to walk while A was being carried. So I carried both of them for a bit, but that just wasn't workable in the long run.

Finally she was dawdling by the rental carts and wouldn't come and I decided to just wait her out, so my daughter and I were about 50 feet away looking at the monkeys. Then suddenly she bolted off in the other direction (this isn't typical for her) so I had to grab my daughter and run after her to keep her in sight. We then had a face off, me saying "A, we're leaving now, come with me please" and her just staring at me. I finally picked her up and carried the two of them out of there.

So...my big question is how could I have dealt with this better? I was reading the time out thread last night and someone's post made me think that maybe I should be just cuddling her when she starts being aggressive. Maybe she just does this when she needs some love. There's never any warning that she's going to start hitting or anything -- there's no apparent trigger or obvious behavior that comes before. It's not when she isn't getting attention. It appears to be random. I would have liked to have removed her from the sand situation and gone elsewhere and talked/cuddled or something, but that's a bit tricky when you have two kids there. Also, for me, the embarrassment factor does come into it, especially when she does something to some stranger's child. I find myself not wanting to appear to be ignoring it or rewarding bad behavior. I know this is my problem; I just thought I should acknowledge it.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Wow, that is a tricky situation. My son isn't that old yet & I only ever have him, but we do the same dance a lot- me saying "please don't do that" and he looking for my reaction as he repeats the offense. I'm afraid I don't have much to offer you, but one minor suggestion is that you said "we don't throw..." I read a book one time (I think it was "What did I just say?") that said it is more effective to make your language child-specific, so say "you do not throw" or simply "do not throw". This author pointed out that children tend to take things VERY literally, so every word that you say to her should be literal, too. When I first read that I thought I was doing a pretty good job of that- I'm a language-person. But when I started paying attention to the exact words that came out of my mouth, I realized that I used a lot of implication phrases. For instance, when I saw my son hitting the dog, I'd say "that's not nice". So kids, being literal creatures, think "You're right, mom. It's not nice." or something, but I didn't actually TELL him to stop. So now I'm much more careful about saying exactly what I mean. I think it's helped a little. Just a minor note.
I hope others with more experience have better suggestions for you (so I can learn, too). Good luck.
 

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This is probably going to detract from your thread, and I'm sorry. One thing confuses me, though. I've seen so many times on this board the phrases starting with "We don't" or "we do". I don't get it. Telling a toddler "we don't throw sand" makes no sense to me, because she obviously is throwing sand. You don't throw it, but she does. It seems so........futile and passive. A quick "You may not throw the sand. It hurts" is so much more to the point I think and gives a boundary. Or even better, adding in a redirection at the same time - let's build a big tower! - taking the emphasis away from throwing sand for a moment. But now that you know there is a tendency for this, you can prepare next time with a ball or sand toys - like the kind that have a water wheel effect to get the same stimulation.

The going home part seemed like a punishment. Wait. I think that came out wrong. I mean, it seems like they weren't prepared. No warning, just "you threw sand, so now we're going home" instead of, "You may not throw sand. If you do, we will need to go home." and then following through.
 

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Well my DD often acts like A LOL And I would have responded the same...even though I *know* she is probably just overwhelmed/tired/etc. But I would have left also.

Quote:
she starts whining "mommy..." in a way that feels manipulative to me.
I just wanted to point out that the "mommy" whining might not be due to manipulation but just indicates a positive attachment to mommy. When my Dd was 2.5-3 her preschool teachers said she said "mommy" whenever she was in an unsure situation. They all (and the school psych too) thought it indicated a positive attachment and nothing more than that...hth

I liked LilyGrace's suggestions though and I will try to remember them the next time my DD acts up!
peace
robyn
 

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One suggestion, along the lines of LilyGrace, try skipping the "we don't..." or "don't" because it puts the focus on the bad behavior, and whatever the focus is on comes back in spades. (Remember "Count to 10 without thinking about elephants.")

Instead you could have said, "Look, the sand hit E and hurt her. That's not fun. Let's throw sand this way."

Next step, "I see you're having trouble throwing the sand in a safe way. Let's swing instead." "I need to have you sit with me until you can play safely with the other kids." Repeat, repeat, repeat. Next step, "I see you're having trouble putting on your shoes. We really have to leave right now, so I'm going to help you do that." "You could get lost or hurt if you run away from me. We have to stay close, and I'm going to hold your hand to make sure you do."

I've never had any luck with waiting a kid out!

I don't mean to sound like a know it all. This kind of sitution would make me crazy. And I struggle with framing things in this way constantly. But it always helps me if I can stay calm, address each behavior individually and avoid generalities like "If you can't behave, we're going to leave!" And keep in mind that there are no perfect ways to discipline and avoid all bad behavior. It's a constant process. No matter what we say or do, kids are going to do "naughty" things. So just because A did it again doesn't mean you handled it badly.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by colleen95 View Post
Instead you could have said, "Look, the sand hit E and hurt her. That's not fun. Let's throw sand this way."

Next step, "I see you're having trouble throwing the sand in a safe way. Let's swing instead." "I need to have you sit with me until you can play safely with the other kids." Repeat, repeat, repeat. Next step, "I see you're having trouble putting on your shoes. We really have to leave right now, so I'm going to help you do that." "You could get lost or hurt if you run away from me. We have to stay close, and I'm going to hold your hand to make sure you do."

I like that. It's more positive than what I was trying to say.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the responses.

Regarding "we": I guess I do this because it sounds a bit less like a rule that I've made just for her, like "you can't throw sand, but I can!" But I totally see the point that speaking more directly is probably more effective. And I don't like the passive aggressive overtones, either. So I will try to get away from all the we.

Regarding arbitrary punishment without warning: I had actually said that we'd leave if she did it again. I guess I just left that out. I often have trouble carrying out that kind of warning, though, because bringing her home early is just a punishment for her mother (who is enjoying a couple of hours to herself), and her mother and I have a selfish desire to make this work so that we can both have a few hours per week. Brining her back to my house will probably just encourage more bad behavior because it's way less fun than the zoo or the park or whatever. Oh, and on this point, my husband feels that if I say that we all have to go home, it's unfair to my daughter who is effectively being punished because of A's behavior. I don't see any way around this. He thinks I should say that she can't play with sand or whatever, but that generally means that she'd have to play in a different area, and they're still young enough that they both need close supervision.

Update from today: I had A again this afternoon. We went to the park. My husband was with us too, so that helped a bit with my ability to remove A from situations, but not so much because my daughter follows me as soon as I remove A. So once she threw gravel at E, again with no warning at all after playing very nicely with the gravel together, and the other time she kicked sand in a crowded sandbox after I had already told her not to. After the first gravel-throwing incident, I picked her up immediately and carried her to the next table and sat down with her. I used a very friendly tone and reminded her about the sand-throwing incident yesterday and reminded her that throwing sand and rocks isn't allowed because it hurts other people and told her that I didn't think she wanted to hurt her friend. Then I said that I thought she needed a break and we'd just sit there until she was ready to play without throwing. At that point she started squirming and I asked her if she was ready not to throw and she said yes. She went back and didn't throw again. I did move them to the playground within a few minutes in an effort to reduce the chances of it happening again.

With the sand-kicking, I warned her a couple of times first (the incidents were in quick succession and she wasn't aiming for a kid, but she was kicking way too roughly given the number of small children playing close to her) and then removed her again and did the same thing. Again, she didn't kick sand again. However, that's not really "her thing" so I can't be at all sure that she would have anyway.

So anyway, I feel like today's approach was more successful. At least I felt less like a mean mom and she didn't do the mommy thing, so hopefully that means she felt less insecure in the situation.

Please keep the responses coming! I'm new to this whole thing due to the young age of my daughter.
 

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I might suggest an umbrella stroller so you can create a "safe space" for either child when they're feeling tired, or need a spot to unwind after a difficult incident. In addition, you might add into your statement about the sand "no throwing sand. if you throw the sand, I'll ask you to come sit by me for a few minutes." If that didn't solve it, you might say "if you continue to throw sand, we will have to leave the playground".

My 24 month old responds very well to clear, concise guidelines. If I say "you can throw sand here, but not here or here...", he just can't handle it, and eventually he'll be throwing sand everywhere. Clear, obvious consequences with short words and basic expectations.

When you're taking care of more than one child, sometimes the consequences DO effect everyone, even if not everyone was involved in the infraction. I have 2 children, and will soon have 3. If my 6 year old becomes impetulent and difficult while we're at the playground, we ALL have to pack up and go elsewhere. I can't just send him home alone, nor can I always offer delayed consequences, as that's not always an effective means of direction. So while I understand your husband's concern that your daughter was punished as a result of A's actions, you can't always keep everyone perfectly happy. And you DID point out that E was tired and has skipped her nap, so perhaps leaving was really the best option at that point, regardless of why you left.

Finally, I often watch my friend's 2 1/2 year old daughter and my 2 year old son together. They need significant STRUCTURE when they play together. After 20 minutes or more of random play, we change venues. We clean up from Round 1, and move to the kitchen table for crayons and paper, or a snack. Then potty break, then a short video and then the toys come out again, but upstairs this time in a different location. It's a LOT of work to handle 2 toddlers, but with changes in location and activity, it helps prevent some of the unpleasant behavior that happens when they get tired and grumpy. I try to pepper their play with snack and rest-type breaks as much as possible, and I LOVE having a stroller that they can take turns using when we go outside. I also do my own housework while I have them. I let them help me empty the dryer, carry the laundry basket upstairs or sweep the floor.
 
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