Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18, 2011 - There's a New Bully in Town

Yesterday was "Family Fun Day" at Grace's school, which included playing some games together and an international potluck lunch.  It was nice to socialize with the families that we know and to meet some new families as well.  The camera battery died, so I don't have any good pictures :(  But it was a really lovely little event.

The most interesting part of the day was talking to Grace's teacher, who informed me that Grace is now HITTING OTHER CHILDREN in her class and sat in "time out" on Friday for the first time.    Ugh.  Just a few months after she was nervous to go to school because there was a boy picking on her, she is now the bully!

I was not surprised to hear this news, because she is really challenging us at home these days: disobeying us, hitting Noah, stealing Noah's toys, purposely going "pee pee" when she is put in "time out", and the like.  The hitting actually started when Noah was born (doesn't take a psychologist to figure that one out) and got better for quite a few months, but seems to have flared up again lately.  We thought: as long as it is just at home, then we know why and will continue to deal with it (using time outs, rewards, etc.).  But now the hitting has spread, and so on our "date night" last night we spent some time discussing strategies for improving her behavior (don't worry, we talked about non-child-related things too).  

We also made a big deal of talking to the parents of her friend who she was hitting on Friday (she seems to confess her crimes so even though at school they've only seen her hit one child, I'm pretty sure there have been others).  Luckily, they are friends of ours and have a much older daughter too, so they aren't freaking out about it.  But, I remember from when Grace was being hit and pushed that I was disappointed that his mother never reacted when the teacher told her what happened, and never let us know that they were addressing the issue at home.  So we DEFINITELY wanted our friends to know that we're taking the issue seriously.

Some degree of hitting is normal in toddlers and a lot of Grace's behavior might be standard two-year-old stuff - or at least the books and websites I'm reading say so - but of course we don't want her to be a hitter!  What concerns us is that a lot of children hit because they don't have the words to express themselves, which is definitely not the case with Grace.  She has a lot of words and expressions - in two languages!  So now we're trying to focus on positive reinforcement, pre-empting the hitting when we see it coming, and making sure we are consistent with her consequences for bad behavior.  We're also trying to get away from teaching her to just "say sorry" because we're finding that she does it without really meaning it or without changing her behavior.

When I put Grace to bed tonight I asked her what she was going to do at school tomorrow and she said, "Ride a horse." (that's true, they do that on Mondays) Then I asked her if she was going to play nice and she said, "I will hit Isa." (which, of course, led to a much longer conversation!) AHHHHHH!  Looks like we're in for an interesting week!

LMW

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