To stop seeing a friend because she has a violent preschooler?

(57 Posts)
bt1978 Thu 14-Feb-13 22:26:19

I met a friend at a baby group a few years ago when our first babies were a few months old and we've been meeting up regularly (say 2-3 times per month) ever since - her DS and my DD turned 3 this month. We both now have two DCs around 17/18mo.

Her DS hits and pushes my DD whenever we meet up, and he does it to other kids too as we sometimes have others involved in our meet ups. Sometimes not a hard push, sometimes a very hard one, sometimes shouts in our kid's faces etc. At first I just brushed it off as something toddlers/preschoolers do, thinking he'd grow out of it...she seemed to be dealing with it - naughty step/time out etc....except it has been going on for over a year now and he is getting bigger and stronger, and therefore capable of causing more hurt. For instance, this week he pushed my DS (17mo) over so hard he fell on his face and cut his lip. (It was superficial and he was fine a few minutes later)

I felt dreadful that I had not protected him and actually I am now thinking I will give her and her DS a break for a while.

What would you do? I don't want to over-react. Kids do often go through hitting/biting phases etc don't they? BUt surely not for over a year. It's no fun when my DCs get hurt.

jellybeans Sat 16-Feb-13 21:21:19

I would avoid them. My DC all went through a pushing stage and soon came out of it as I didn't allow it and followed them around correcting them. Yet the kids who were violent age 3 at nursery are the ones still causing trouble age 11+. I know one who grew out of it at high school but the rest are still agressive and bully others.

YippeeTeenager Sat 16-Feb-13 21:30:13

It's really sad when adult friends fall out over their children's behaviour - we all go through times when our kids play up regardless of how we try to manage the situation. I wouldn't dump your friend but try really hard to think of things to do with her that will limit the damage! I had one friend with a boisterous boy that always used to whack my DD on the head with whatever was closest, but meeting them for swimming worked well. And I started suggesting that we went out in the evenings to the cinema and stuff too, so we still saw each other as often, but without the kids so much. Friends are precious, and kids do grow up and out of things smile

SamSmalaidh Sat 16-Feb-13 21:36:47

With no judgement on the mother, I would stop meeting up with the children. You have to protect your children first.

spiritedaway Sat 16-Feb-13 21:41:10

Glad you recognise violent was probably not the best adjective. . but what is the kid like when he is not pushing? Does he say sorry? And most importantly is she on his case. If she isn't YANBU. If she is, your choice, but remember a toddler rarely has reliable impulse control

FreyaSnow Sat 16-Feb-13 21:41:31

Ihateconflict, I don't think it is really a case of whether or not the OP approves or disapproves of how the other mother brings up her children. Of course lots of perfectly good parents have children who go through difficult phases and grow out of it.

The issue is whether the OP's children should bear the brunt of another child's aggressive behaviour by spending a lot of time with this family, and I would say they shouldn't because it is damaging to the OP's children. Being repeatedly taken on playdates where it is just you and a violent child is very different to being in a large group of children in a playgroup or school with one child who hits, where the violence does not always fall on one or two children.

The OP's children may well end up feeling that adults aren't protecting them, that they are being hurt and can't do anything about it. That might lead to them becoming violent themselves because they feel unsafe or them losing their boundaries about what it is acceptable to put up with from other children, and not telling adults when it happens in other situations because they feel adults can't resolve the situation. It really is about the children and not the feelings of the adults; the distress caused to the children who are being repeatedly hit outweighs the feelings of the child who is hitting if he doesn't see two friends for a while. The child doing the hitting can presumably still socialise with others at playgroups etc.

MrsDeVere Sat 16-Feb-13 21:41:31

Ihate but you apologised to parents and tried to contain your DS's behaviour.

That is very different from just allowing the hitting and biting to happen without checking it.

DC5 was a biter. It was horrible. Being bitten is very painful and I know from the threads on MN just what some parents assume about the parents of children who bite! The phase didn't last thank goodness.

It might well of done if we just let him get on with it. Because I knew he did it I would watch him very closely when we were out.

The parent I mentioned upthread didn't just refuse to check her child, she would spend ages trying to find a way of blaming any other child around at the time. She would also use the 'XXXX is the youngest/smallest excuse as well'.

Well XXXX is 10 now and still a horror. hmm

Notfootball Sat 16-Feb-13 21:44:41

Last summer when my DD and my friend's DS were 3, her DS's hitting/pushing/fighting reached a peak. It was sad but I realised that my DC needed protecting so stopped seeing them in enclosed spaces. I felt that she was not doing enough to manage her DS's behaviour but did not want to call her on it, I'm no child expert. The children have since started preschool and his behaviour has improved so we have resumed our meet ups. I think you should do what you need to do to protect your children.

jinsymaw Sat 16-Feb-13 21:47:50

Sorry. Hello spritited away, Sorry love Studio ghibli! Forgive and forget me!x

MyDarlingClementine Sat 16-Feb-13 21:58:22

I have a friend too whose child seems to have gone thru a veryh long violent phase, and to be honest its not so much his behaviour, its the DM ways of handling or rather not handling it.

I just personally feel very strongly that I do not want my child to hurt another, and if they do there will be consequences.

simples.

spiritedaway Sat 16-Feb-13 22:15:59

Hello Jinsymaw. and Mydarling, I agree, so long as the expectations are age appropriate.

Minshu Sat 16-Feb-13 22:53:55

I have made a good "mum friend" but our DDs of a similar age have a love-hate relationship - love seeing each other, talk about each other all the time then start squabbling over toys etc. I think we both went through a phase of making excuses not to meet up for a few weeks every now and then, and it really helped. I also gave DD little pep-talks about sharing nicely, not screeching if the other child wanted to snatch share something interesting. They've now moved away :-( hoping to visit very soon.

Just take a break for a few weeks and see how it goes?

jollygoose Sat 16-Feb-13 23:28:44

aside from "ihateconflict" some of you mums are horribly judgemental. Unless you have a toddler intent on pushing others around you cannot know what its like. My own dear sisters c age 2 a case in question. He will push and shove given the chance, she has consistently dealt with this by gentle discipline, naughty step and constant reminding of gentle hands and has often been terribly upset by his behaviour so what sort of friends are they whio then decide to isolate her completely. Of course you ant to protect your own children but surelyh this can be done by keeping a close eye when playing.
some of you horribly smug lot will get a shock when your own dc are not so perfect.

propertyNIGHTmareBEFOREXMAS Sat 16-Feb-13 23:51:30

Yanbu to stop meeting up.

quoteunquote Sat 16-Feb-13 23:53:59

make an extra effort to meet up in the evening when you are DC free, she will appreciate the friendship,

PatButchersEarring Sun 17-Feb-13 08:25:57

I think this is so common.

I have also distanced myself from a 'mum friend' because of her DS's behaviour towards my DD. This biting/hitting/scratching phase lasted for over 2 years. During that time, I heard umpteen excuses for the behaviour, but did not see the mother a) being consistent in her approach with following through with punishments etc, b) supervising her child adequately in 'high risk' situations, or c) accessing help from HV etc on the issue (although she was more than capable of speaking to HV on a weekly basis about food/sleep etc).

Truth is, I felt sorry for the mum as she was obviously struggling..and as someone else said, although I didn't like her approach, I'm no child expert, so who was I to judge?

However, bottom line is that my job is to protect my child. I no longer see this mum, and am cross at myself for allowing it to continue as long as it did. Incidentally, I did tell the mother why I was distancing myself- and she continued to be VERY pushy about meeting up.

She clearly therefore could not give a fig about mine or my DD's feelings on the matter, and as such, is not someone that I had any wish to retain as an 'adult' friend in her own right for me either.

I say do what is right for your child, and don't feel bad about it.

Babyblade Sun 17-Feb-13 08:29:26

I had similar problem with a DC biting my DD. I was further frustrated because the Mum didn't really react or try to resolve the situation. She did that ineffectual 'sing-song' reprimand ... 'Don't bite sweetheart, la la la .... '

Anyway, I decided that I'd make it clear with my DD and the other mum before we met them each time that if the other child bit her we would be leaving IMMEDIATELY - even mid coffee/cake/chat/lunch.

I wanted my DD to know I would protect her and remove her from situations where she got hurt AND that behaviour like that from ANYONE wasn't acceptable. The other DC wasn't my concern but I wanted to make sure that I didn't condone the biting, and that even if the other mum wouldn't react, then I would. It was my way of regaining control of a situation with an uncontrolled child.

The good news is that yes, it worked. We only had to leave once & the other DC soon realised I meant business and that the fun/play would stop if they were too rough. I remained friends with the mum although 3 years later we've drifted apart because DC at different schools.

PatButchersEarring Sun 17-Feb-13 08:33:43

oh, and Jollygoose. It is not the responsibility of other parents to keep an extra close eye on their child to avoid them from being hurt by another.

It is the responsibility of the volatile child's parent to watch them like a hawk to make sure that they don't hurt anyone else.

Cat98 Sun 17-Feb-13 09:16:09

We have friends like this. It has been going on for 2+ years now (they are 4). We keep seeing them because my ds loves playing with the boy - they both like rough and tumble. The only thing is, the other boy doesn't know when to stop and often hits and pushes my ds in inappropriate non play situations. My ds understands that the other boy 'just wants to play' but it is still difficult sometimes.
I am sticking it out because they are our friends and from a selfish pov ds does get something out of their meetings. I do feel she is not effective enough with how she deals with things but I also acknowledge he's a difficult child and it can't be a bed of roses for her - also I feel my ds will come across many a difficult character in his lifetime and it will be better for him in the long run to learn tools to deal with situations rather than to completely avoid them while he's young. That's mpo though and related to our situation.
In the ops situation I'd perhaps cool off for a bit especially given the age gap - I wouldn't stop seeing them altogether though.

Actually if you want to protect your child effectively then you should supervise as well. We saw a lot of children with challenging and physical behaviours when my kids were small as do many if our friends have children with learning disabilities. I did not expect the other mothers to do it all and also supervised myself - that prevented most incidents.

If you have a child with physical behaviours you can't fit around and gossip in the way you can when you know they're not going to be bashing each other, but given these are young children, with apparently poor impulse contr

Bloody phone. Apparently poor impulse control it is unrealistic to expect the other mother to be able to wave a magic wand and make it all ok. If you supervise closely as well and pick your child up when necessary they shouldn't get hurt. Yes it is hard work & realistically you have to be prepared to do your bit as well (and put aside any 'it's not fair why should I supervise when it's their child being mean' feelings).

If you can't do that then it's best not to meet. Because you'll just end up irritated at the unfairness of the situation & it's all likely to blow up helping no-one.

I always found it worthwhile because on the whole these were families who were already becoming very isolated & who were trying everything. It wasn't their fault usual methods didn't work. Usually the kids ended up with a dx to be honest - eventually. If you have a child who responds to typical sanctions (time out etc) it can be hard to understand how difficult it is for those with children who don't.

I haven't found it to have affected ds2 or ds3. They're both very caring boys, who are completely unfazed by challenging behaviours and are very very good with little kids.

CockBollocks Sun 17-Feb-13 10:18:19

Well the OP has said that the mother has been dealing with it, so in that case as this woman is a friend YABU.

FWIW I dont believe labelling a 3 year old as violent is really appropriate, appreciate it might just have been a flippant word that you used but not nice.

Maybe the child needs help playing? Maybe you could take some games and play them all together? Does the mum ever talk about it or do you think she is too embaressed?

HelloBear Sun 17-Feb-13 10:30:26

I find sometimes the problem is lack of supervision by parents. This in my experience is due to misguided expectations that their young dc can play happily alongside other dc while they can have a gossip/coffee/sit down etc. If only it was that easy! My DD is going through a 'pinching' stage sad so I have decided to watch her like a hawk. I may look like a helicopter mother but this preferable to my DD hurting another child. Yes it's a pita and I dont get to sit and relax but I would bemortified if she hurt another dc (as she has with her brother!).

So is your friend doing this? If not I would be reluctant to meet up or you have to take on the role of supervising but then you face the tricky situation of potentially having to step in!

ChairmanWow Sun 17-Feb-13 10:30:29

I think some posters have been incredibly judgmental in relation to the OP's friend. Someone mentioned cutting her off entirely. Why? It sounds like she's been trying to deal with this behaviour, unlike some of the other examples cited. Imagine if your child continually misbehaved no matter what you did. Imagine the stress of being limited socially by your child's behaviours, not to mention the worry that something underlying may be causing it.

I think we need to differentiate between those trying to set boundaries with their difficult children and those who either deal with it inadequately or refuse to face up to the fact their child behaves like a little horror. It's very easy to judge when you have a well behaved child.

I think the OP is in a difficult position, but whatever you decide to do in terms of the kids meeting up the child's mother doesn't need to be punished.

HildaOgden Sun 17-Feb-13 10:41:56

Does he interact at all with the other children?How is his speech? Reason I ask is that I was in exactly the same position as you when my kids were about the same age,friend did try teaching her little lad to 'play nicely' for want of a a better expression.Turned out her son was eventually diagnosed with Autism.

If nothing is working with him,despite her trying,and he doesn't even seem to acknowledge anything is wrong...well,maybe there is something else going on with him?Is she worried about him?Maybe suggest she has a chat with the HV?

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