metro mama

Friday, February 23, 2007

Alpha Babe

Some of Cakes’ behaviour is a growing cause for concern. I used to be able to go to our drop-in and ignore her relax and chat with the other moms. As long as I was in her sights, she would happily play with toys and needed little supervision. I spend a lot of time down on the floor playing with her at home, so I feel no guilt about a little benign neglect when we’re out. Lately, however, I’ve been having to watch her like a hawk. She plays great with older kids and used to stick with them and ignore the little ones. But she’s started to also be interested in children who are younger, and/or smaller (especially ones that are whiny sensitive) and she zeros in on them and shoves them around. Her shoves are sometimes enough to make the kid cry and always enough to make me cringe with embarrassment.

At first I thought Cakes was just going through another asshole phase, but this has been going on for some time now. I spoke to one of the workers at my drop-in and she thinks the problem is that she wants to play with the other children and doesn’t know how to ask. This makes sense to me—she is very outgoing (like I am) but she doesn’t have many (recognizable) words yet (that’s another post). So, she does the thing she knows will get attention, be it positive or negative. What I need to do is watch her more closely, recognize when it’s about to happen and try to avoid the behaviour by giving her words:

“Oh, you want to help Johnny play with his train?”

“Hi Johnny, I’m Jane. Wanna play?”

Needless to say, there will be far less coffee drinking and chatting for me for the next little while.

Anyone else going through/gone through this?

***
My neighbour and I are finding the girls a little challenging right now and were wondering if things will get easier or harder. What do you think wise mothers of older children? What age was the hardest for you?

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14 Comments:

Blogger bubandpie said...

The Pie is a bit of a ruffian. She has gotten so used to defending herself from her big brother that other children her age are no match for her. Most of the places we go, though, there's nobody smaller than her that I need to protect, so I haven't had to deal with it nearly as much as her day-care provider has. They have lots of "conversations" about it (and apparently Bub loves to horn in on those to give his sister what-for).

9:29 AM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

MF has been a tad pushier lately when it comes to things like waiting his turn for the slide. I try to make sure he waits his turn and remind him he used to not be quite so speedy as some of the littler ones, too.

What's interesting is that I've also noticed that a lot of the little girls his age are a lot more challenging at playgroups these day. Pushier and grabbier than the boys for sure -- maybe it's because the boys haven't been allowed to push back? I know I won't let MF push the girls back right now --- he rarely starts these things, actuall, quite a good sharer --- but he's bigger than they are and it doesn't seem sporting.

9:39 AM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

To be blunt -

As the mother of a baby on the sensitive side, I personally hate it when this behaviour goes unchecked. It not only reinforces the unacceptable behaviour, but leaves it completely to the other parent to try to handle the situation. It is especially tricky when you are trying to teach your own toddler not to hurt others, but it seems that others are allowed to hurt them.

Of course all toddlers are going to be physical and grabby sometimes. We handle this by trying to instill a sense of empathy in bee - please don't do that, it hurts when you hit (pinch, push, whatever). we have to use gentle touches.
then she has to go over, say sorry and give a hug. We also make sure that when she does something nice or generous, we thank her and we tell her how nice or generous it was, and that it made us feel happy and good.

this is how our nanny taught us to handle these situations (because really, she has way more experience than we do), and it really does work. feelings, they get. social acceptance, heirarchy and impulse control, they don't.

and don't underestimate how your attitude on the matter influences her behaviour.

10:38 AM  
Blogger metro mama said...

Penelope - I do agree and I do this. Over and over and over. It's taking a long time to sink in. What I'd prefer though is to prevent it from happening in the first place. I think her having words will help.

10:48 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Well, as my doctor pointed out, I am lucky because Pumpkinpie had good language skills, so a lot of that kind of awkwardness and frustration was prevented.

Still, I find she goes through periods of being a real pain, pushing, testing, and making me crazy for a couple of weeks before reverting to her normal agreeable self (like right now, she's making me bonkers!).

Also? I often find she has a harder time with younger kids than older, and I think it partly has to do with the fact that with an older or same-age kid, there is a bit more solcial skills and ability to give and take or let each other know if there's a problem, but with a younger kid, she doesn't know how to proceed.

12:24 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

Oliver can be so rough at home that I'm nervous to take him to a playgroup or an Early Years centre because I'm afraid he'll beat up the other kids, LOL. Before Julia got sick I started testing the waters by taking them to parent-assisted programs at the Y and I was surprised, because he did really well.

But it's the same thing here at home, where he can let his weight down -- reinforcing over and over and over again to be gentle, not to hit, to say sorry when he does hit. He's an agressive personality and I find that there are times when he genuinely does not mean to hurt, it's just his nature. It's hard, though. I constantly second-guess myself with him and wonder what the heck I'm doing wrong.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Chicky is a bit sensitive at first, so the hitting or stealing toys that goes unnoticed makes me crazy. I'm glad you're ready to grab her and teach her the right way to behave. As she gets older, however, she's getting rougher. So I can't say it gets better. I think it has to get worse before it gets better.

2:56 PM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

The Boy seems to be a mix of agressive and sensitive. And he's having trouble vocalizing his feelings, resorting to high pitched screeches or crying. When he's being agressive - insisting on playing with ALL the toys all at once - I ask him what toy he can share with the other child. When he's being sensitive - pushing children, shouting NO! and crying - I am trying to say things like "No thank you", "Stop please" and "I don't like that". When he pushes out of exuberance or pique, I do what Penelope does and ask him to say he's sorry and give the person a big hug. I also make a big deal of good behaviour with lots of praise and hullabaloo.

I don't know if the above helps, but I totally get the struggle with language. I do think that make a huge difference.

4:38 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

Ya...I liked watching Cakes take littlegirl down with her leg wrestling last weekend. At least you won't have to worry about her in the school yard in years to come...

Her behaviour is soooo normal, and sooo frustrating.

My hardest age with bigirl is from 4 until 6. And I am going thru hell with littlegirl right now....same thing between 4 and 6...

Good luck. I'll always have a shoulder and kleenex and a glass of wine at the ready for you.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I'm with you and P that the biggest issue is whether the behaviour is checked. I don't really know what you can do about it. I found from about two to two and a half I could correct behaviour and the lesson would seem to stick. Since two and a half it seems to be a constant battle. My girl could spend entire days in time out. She's testing the limits, I have to be consistent but it cannot be the only thing I do with her. We are trying to figure out how to pick our battles without letting her run wild.
Your plan for coaching cakes seems right to me. Sadly it just means no more gossip time for you.
Of course like everything else I am sure this will pass and some new hell will emerge.
Motherhood is so relaxing.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

I think you are doing a great job. To me, the most important thing is paying attention to the behavior of your child and making the effort to make positive corrections. Every child is different but Cakes has such attentive and intentional parents. She's set for life!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

I think you are doing a great job. To me, the most important thing is paying attention to the behavior of your child and making the effort to make positive corrections. Every child is different but Cakes has such attentive and intentional parents. She's set for life!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Mary-LUE said...

Oops! Sorry for the double post.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

I had a bitch (literally!) of a time when Fric was seven and eight. She pushed boundaries like no other. Things quieted down and now they are flaring back up as she approaches the teen years. She's only 10, but God help us all, if I catch her rolling her eyes at me one more time!!

She's a strong willed girl, which I love! And she was a bruiser bully too at an early age, but she outgrew it when her language skills developed.

Good luck. Just warn the other parents, and provide helmets for all the kiddies...lol!

8:32 PM  

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