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 Post subject: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:31 am 
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Location: Kirkland, WA
Westley is almost 3, and has had very few opportunities to play with other children. That's partially my fault because I'm both depressed and a (recovering) shy person - and I have no friends with kids.

I finally joined a playgroup, and we went to our first meeting yesterday. And whoa, boy! My kid is the toy-snatching, fit-pitching, child-pushing, I'm-going-to-hit-you-because-I-don't-want-you-close-to-me kid. No one got seriously hurt (thank goodness). But I definitely felt like the mother of The Problem Child.

I told him several times, "That's not how to play" and "No hitting! Hitting hurts!" In the past, I've taken Westley home from play gym or the park. At home, he often says things like, "I can't play with other children. I hate other children!" (Not sure where he picked up the word "hate.")

I know nothing is permanent with toddlers and preschoolers, but I'm still worried. I don't want Westley to be The Bad Kid. And I don't want to be That Mom.

Commiseration, resources, ideas? Please?

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 Post subject: Re: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 10:51 am 
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Saggy Butt
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yikes! i don't have any suggestions, but i will commiserate -- that has got to be rough. hopefully someone else will have good advice to help you work it out!


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 Post subject: Re: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:34 am 
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Be afraid... be very afraid
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What if you took him to a park or a playground where there were other kids, but not ones that he felt he had to play with because it was a "play date"? Even though my kids have been in daycare and around other children since they were infants, I have observed that forced social interaction never ends well. And that observation applies to kids that are friends, kids that are strangers, family, adults, etc. On the other hand, they nearly always strike up a conversation or find someone to play with if it is a kid friendly setting, and it's relaxed. He may be rejecting the other kids as a defense mechanism until he builds up his confidence. I would continue to reinforce what is acceptable behavior and what is not acceptable, but I would try to keep him from seeing you fret about him. If he's not used to the situation, it's a lot to handle from his point of view.
Also, if he starts to act up, I would quietly, calmly, and without fuss remove him from the situation. Even if it's to the other side of the playground. Children need space to regroup and calm down without recrimination. When he feels better, try again. What you are describing doesn't sound that odd to me. I think he just may need time to build up his social interaction repetoire. For example, he may not be used to competing for attention or toys. My oldest was completely different in day care than my youngest. My youngest arrived in the toddler room having been trained at home by her sister in what "mine!" meant, how to hoard possessions, and how to get attention from adults. You could spend five minutes in that room and tell which of the babies were only children and which had siblings. Over time, it all sorted out, and everyone learned how to play with each other.
Again, by certain standards, my kids are "well socialized" and both are now in school, but there are still times when they don't want to deal with the group and start to get defensive or shut down.
Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 11:40 am 
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I agree that it sounds a little early to hang the bully label on him. He's a little guy who is still figuring it out. How do you behave around other people? How do you compromise? When do you compromise? What are acceptable ways of getting what you want? Who can you trust?

He'll get there. Be firm and as positive as you can manage. Look for opportunities to say Yes instead of No. Give him the chance to practice his skills, even with made-up, pretend scenarios with just the two of you. If he hasn't been around other kids a lot, he might really just not know how to do the things you and the rest of the world expect of him. Make up games where he can practice.

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 Post subject: Re: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:13 pm 
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Not NOT A Furry
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FootFace is wise. Listen to FootFace.
I would say more but it would be repitition not something new.

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 Post subject: Re: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 12:28 pm 
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noelle, all the 2-year-old boys with me (milo included) went through a hitting phase. many of them went through it at the same time, YAY FUN FOR ME.

we found this page really helpful: http://www.ivillage.com/hitting-when-yo ... 6-n-146051

getting the boys to talk about their feelings, empowering the person who's been hit to say: "no i don't like that, don't hit me," and giving the boys more attention for their positive behavior than their negative was all instrumental in ending the behavior, or at least severely curbing it.

i know how i felt when it was going on, which was that i didn't know my child. how could my sweet little boy have it in him to just walk up to another kid and slap him, with no provocation? but they really don't understand their actions at this age. they just understand: "i do this thing and it produces this predictable series of events: i get attention from adults, this kid cries. wow, cool."

i would say that the most important thing is that he continues to get regular social interaction, if not this playgroup then another.


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 Post subject: Re: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:15 pm 
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Thanks, everyone. I feel much better after reading your replies.

Joanna hit the nail on the head (so to speak): I feel like I don't recognize this child. Westley can be such a sweet, loving little guy, so to have him wail on some poor, unsuspecting kid over a plastic dinosaur is...odd.

And FootFace is wise indeed. I realize I'm asking a lot of Westley. After all, going to a brand new playspace filled with cool toys and asking him to share with people he's never even met before? Pretty intense on his end. And not even his idea in the first place!

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 Post subject: Re: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:23 pm 
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My daughter isn't two yet and has been in playgroups for almost a year, but she still gets hitty on occasion. We bought her a book called "No Hitting" by Karen Katz and we read it every day and oddly enough it seems to help her with redirection.


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 Post subject: Re: My kid, the bully
PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:29 pm 
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I teach preschool, and one of the little boys in my class had a problem with biting when he was three years old. It usually happened when too many kids where in his personal space. We taught him to say, "No, no! I don't like that!" instead of getting physical. It took some time and practice, but it eventually worked. Also (and this may have been mentioned before) we'd compliment him every time he did something right. That works wonders.
I guess I'm trying to say, don't worry. He'll catch on, and he'll get the hang of playing with other kids.

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