Thursday, October 16th, 2008
Discuss: Dealing with Toddler-on-Toddler Conflict
“When have things gone too far?” That’s the question I’m pondering in an ongoing situation at our preschool.
Suppose your 1- or 2-year-old is in a playgroup and another toddler shoves yours over control of a toy. You pull your kid aside, talk about sharing and taking turns, being nice and yada, yada, yada. And you hope the other parent does the same with his kid.
But what if the other child initiates conflict at many of the playgroups you attend? Would you remove your child from that playgroup?
That’s sort of our preschool situation. My daughter recently began covering her ears at home when she doesn’t want to listen to us.
“Why do you cover your ears?”
“That’s what we do at school when things are loud.”
“Tell me about the noise.”
“Some of the kids yell.”
“Oh, that’s just [child's name].”
“Tell me about [child's name].”
“She pushes me.”
“Really? When does she push you?”
Zing. Alarm bells go off. Mercury rises. After a while we deciphered that “Every day” meant “often” and “me” meant “someone in my class” and “push” meant “push, kick or has a verbal outburst.”
We don’t know how often our daughter is the target of such activity; she now says it’s happened only once to her. However, she has learned a new and valuable skill: avoidance.
She has learned to avoid being near the shoving child in situations where she’s liable to be pushed.
We were semi-tipped to the situation during our school orientation, being told that one of her classmates has a dedicated aide. The teachers try everything they can to accommodate the child.
But let’s get back to the central question, “When have things gone too far?”
Regarding physical attacks, I’m okay with occasional shoving because it’s a fact of life with kids. I’m a bit uneasy if it is indeed occurring regularly with the same child, but also glad that my daughter is learning coping skills.
I would be outraged if it was a bullying situation, but my daughter believes she is a random target. She’s far more upset when she’s treated poorly by a friend visiting her home because it’s more personal.
She understands that the shoving child doesn’t have ill feelings specific to her. I love how she shrugged off the situation as, “Oh, that’s just [child's name].”
An entirely different matter is the verbal outburst issue which sometimes includes profanity, as we’ve been told by another parent.
We don’t use certain words around our daughter, and here we go with her possibly learning them at preschool. Sure, it has to happen sometime, but at age 4? Hmm.
The glass-is-half-full perspective would be to say she’ll associate profanity with bad behavior and thus not use it (umm, except maybe when she throws a tantrum at home? Oh, wonderful!).
How do you balance protecting your toddler from violence and adult ideas versus teaching her to cope? At school she’s dealing with a 4-year-old microcosm of real life.
Oh, but again, when have things gone too far?
Conversely, what if the shoving child was yours? Wouldn’t you want the school to try everything to help your kid out?