Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Daughter, the Bully?

While taking a family walk yesterday afternoon, the husband dropped a bomb on me. Daycare said we need to work on "no" with Bridget, he said. My initial thought was that maybe she was being a little precocious and curious and climbing on furniture or throwing food or something. He continued, saying that she's been slapping other kids and smiling when the the teachers said "No!" I was shocked! My daughter is a bully? As someone who was mildly bullied as a kid, there was no way I was letting my child turn into a bully. We definitely cannot let that happen. We must nip this in the bud! And I don’t want to turn into one of those parents who thinks their child can do no wrong either even though up until that point, I still thought of her as my little angel baby.

Daycare suggested that next time she is being naughty and thinks the word “no” is hilarious, we should remove her from the situation and put her in her pack n play or someplace without any toys. Apparently, just picking her up and moving her like I had been doing is positive reinforcement since she gets a free ride and attention from mommy.

Right now, Bridget is screaming at the top of her lungs because I told her no and put her in her play yard. She was doing the slapping motion on me, which I now know what daycare is referring to is just her playing, not being malicious. But still, slapping is slapping, and it's no good when she's doing it to other kids. Poor Bridgey.

I was not looking forward to this part of parenting, and I didn’t expect the sassyness to come on so soon. I thought she’d be at least one before we’d have to worry about any kind of discipline. Guess I was a little naive! Discipline’s gotta be the suckiest part of parenting, I imagine, but I guess I gotta start sometime and determine what works and what doesn’t.

The slapping thing did haunt me all last night, though. While I was giving Bridget a bath, I just kept wondering and worrying about if she was just being silly or if every little thing from now on is going to lead to bad habits if we don’t correct it. Like splashing in the bathtub or holding her rubber ducky under water. I just got horrible images of her in the future wanting to hold living things under water--not to be evil, just because she didn’t know it was wrong. Gosh, how morbid. Sorry about that. Gotta love this paranoid motherhood thing.

I don’t know. Anyone have some words of wisdom/encouragement/like experiences to share? This probably isn’t even a big deal, but I’m still a first-time parent, so I can make it one, right? Right.


  1. Yikes! That's definitely a lot to be worrying about, and it's not just paranoia...I think a lot of mothers experience stuff like that.

    I'm not a mom myself, but I'm the oldest of 8 kids (youngest is 17 years younger than me), and I definitely have become something of a sounding board for my own mother's parenting woes over the last few years. The rubber ducky thing? I wouldn't worry about it. If you're concerned, take her to a petting zoo or just the pet store and teach her how to play nicely/gently with the animals.

    And of course you can make a big deal out of anything. That's the right of a new mom :)

  2. This is so fascinating to me as a non-mom yet.. I had no idea! I too thought discipline started later in childhood.. yikes! She's too cute to be a bully :)

  3. Hehe oh boy! I make sure not to use the actual word "NO". I say "uhhh uhhhh" or "noooo nooo" in very calm tones--which is very challenging to say in a soothing voice when they are being naughty or have an unwanted behavior. Both girls went through the stage of 'testing' as I call it. They do an unwanted behavior and watch for your facial reaction, tone of voice, body language, and correction of said behavior. It can be overwhelming, daunting, and confusing to learn to have a neutral un-mad looking face when they smack you and then smile or laugh. I used to say "nooo nooo hitting hurts. genttttleeee. genttttlee". As I'm saying the word gentle very slowly I take their hand and rub it on my arm slowly in a gentle manner. I remember days where I would do that probably 30 times. I wanted to explode in frustration. Kids are pretty much like puppies I say. Lots of repetitive corrective behavior with the same corrective behavior each time. The very first time Ana smacked me in the face was very difficult. Steam was coming out of my ears, but I had to have a straight face and use a neutral voice. So freakin' hard. Eventually you can start saying "Bridgey can you show mama gentle?" and she'll rub your face or arm gently--its super cute.

  4. I don't think you need to worry too much. Stephen doesn't really listen to no either. He just does whatever it is I'm telling him not to anyway with a mischievous look on his face. I think the best way to "discipline" them is to just distract/redirect them or remove them from whatever they are doing. They're really too little to understand time outs or any kind of discipline.

  5. I agree with Lindsey. Kids at this age do not know what "no" means, even though I use it with Aubrey at times. I really just try to remove her from the situation and take her her some place that is safe for her. She likes to hit when she gets mad to both Scott and I. What I normally do with her is grab her hand whens she swings at me and say "Ouch" or I just put her on the floor. This usually makes her more upset then telling her "no."

    I also think it is way to soon to put her in a time-out in her crib or pack n play. They do not understand time outs at this age and most will not until about 2. Even then you are only suppose to put them in a time out for as long as they are old, 2 minutes for 2 years.

    But I am with Lindsey in just removing her from the situation. The hitting and testing is very age appropriate, they are unable to communicate what they need and want so this is how she is trying to tell her friends that she wants something.

  6. Rachel - I know right? That's what I think.

    IRL friends - That's kind of what I figured--that she was too young to understand "no" and time outs. I have been moving her from from her naughty situation and have started trying the gentle touch thing, so hopefully that helps. It's unfortunate that daycare and even Nate's discipline opinions are different than mine, but as long as she stops hitting other kids, I guess I'm open to suggestion and trying different methods.

    And Mrs. T, I totally agree that kids can be like puppies. Like when puppies are chewing on something they shouldn't, you're supposed to distract them with one of their toys instead of yelling at them. Same with kids, it seems.