Being a parent is so hard, but when your toddler often hits other children, it can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and just plain upsetting. So I have a few tips for you parents and providers out there because I’ve been there. My son used to bite other children, and his acting out felt like a humiliation, especially given my field of expertise.
- When a child hurts someone, do not assume their intent was to harm. Most often, the intent of the toddler is to connect or engage in some way.
- Before an encounter with other children, make sure your child is rested, fed, and feeling ready. This will make self-regulating so much easier for your child (thinking good mood=better behavior helps)
- Narrate for your toddler. They are still learning how to recognize and interpret social cues. So when Johnny tries to take a book from Susie, you can say, “Susie, I think Johnny likes that book too, he wants to see the pictures.” Sometimes I feel like I am constantly narrating for the toddlers, but it really helps cut down their frustration, and it helps them recognize social cues as well.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. It might seems exhausting, but putting your child in social settings is the best way to get through this difficult phase when it seems like they have become what you perceive to be “the play date terror”. As parents, it is easy to feel like your child is acting terribly, and to feel bad about it, but practice is good for you too. There will be plenty of times when you will have to navigate these kinds of peer difficulties, so start forming this relationships now, and practice talking it out with others.
- When your child is part of a positive and collaborative moment, recognize and acknowledge it. They need us to send a clear message that the way they acted was helpful, positive, desirable. Reinforce the patterns that help build a socially capable human being early.
- And please be gentle and kind to yourself and your parental peers, no matter what side of the situation you are on. It is tough to see your little one get hit, but it’s also tough to be the mom of that child who hit someone. Try some understanding for the child and the adult, and patience. We are all learning.
- And if another parent says something that feels unwelcome or unkind, try not to let it get to you. I know, that’s crazy, right? But a snide comment and a casual observation can easily be confused when we are feeling stressed, embarrassed and judged. Say to yourself, “if it was just an ordinary day without the hitting, would that comment still bother me?” Chances are it wouldn’t. But in the event that there are truly negative feelings, it’s ok to talk about it with that person. Find a quiet moment without children around, and let that person know how you’re feeling.
I hope this helps, and keep in mind, when you feel like you just can’t take it anymore, your child’s behavior pattern will change. They are constantly learning and growing!
This is our wonderful yoga instructor, Lynn Kiel. She is a dynamic mom, friend, and member of the community. I’ve gotten to know her in her capacity as a yoga instructor for the children in my program. She offers several 6 week sessions throughout the school year, and we participate as often as we can!
Miss Lynn, as we call her, is energetic and skilled at focusing young children. She comes prepared with a notecard of songs and activities chosen for class, adjusting to the needs of the group. She makes sure each child feels included, and she invites adults to join if they would like.
One thing that the children really enjoy is the way she incorporates stories into our practice. We aren’t just being a tree, but we are a seed planted, and she creates a story that has the children becoming the tree. We are warmed by the sun, and watered while reaching our “roots” deep into the soil.
Learn more on her website
And if your child has an opportunity to be in her class, go for it! She is such a lovely instructor!
Scary words…as a mom, a dad, a care provider, anyone who hears these words is flooded with emotion. But I’m finding that after it’s over, there are still some steps to take in the healing of the patients caregivers!
Let me start at the beginning…my son has asthma and allergies. He seldom reacts to food, and it has always been rather mild when he has. Yesterday he walked to the store by himself and got himself some candy corn, he’s 13 and rather independent. I didn’t think to check the label because he’d had them before. Guess what? Coconut oil was one of the ingredients, and it’s his worst allergen! He didn’t react right away, he was at hockey practice when an asthma attack came on suddenly. He used his rescue inhaler, sat a bit and seemed ok. Well 15 minutes later, he vomited and got hives all over his body. Of course we had no antihistamine with us, so I grabbed him and told his dad to meet us at the hospital. Typically I’m a fan of calling paramedics on the side of caution, but we were a minute away and he was breathing just fine.
He was treated quickly with an antihistamine shot and intravenous steroids. He had to stay awhile for observation, but would be released in a couple of hours. He was back to his silly attitudinal self and I was so relieved! I sent his dad to buy some medicine to keep on hand, and told him he could settle in for the night, we would fine. Then I sat down next to my son’s bed, and that’s when it hit: he could have died. I started to hyperventilate, felt dizzy, and my chest felt tight. I was running every possible outcome in my head, in my pessimistic style, and felt overwhelmed. So here’s what I did next:
- I took a good long look at my son. I scanned every visible inch, and when I was satisfied that he was improving, I just let myself sit with that thought for a minute: he was going to be ok. Then I hugged him.
- I took some long and slow breaths to try to slow things down. When that didn’t work, I took out my phone for a game of solitaire-it always distracts me!
- I talked to the doctor, asking tons of questions and admitted that I was anxious and worried, acknowledging that I was kinda freaking out. Oddly enough, this helped.
- And then came the reflection part…did we take all the right precautions (no), how can we prevent this next time, how can we respond better, what has my son learned from this?
- The next step I took to move through this was to lean on my family and friends…the outpouring of love and support on social media was heartwarming and helped me to refocus.
- And when we got home and settled, I took a nap because being worried is exhausting!
So let’s remind caregivers to take care of their needs after a crisis…there’s nothing wrong with taking a break to reset after someone has been injured.