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My toddler is so rough

(14 Posts)
LittlePink Wed 20-May-15 11:49:58

dd is 3 and is so rough with other children it's really getting me down and I often feel like I mishandle situations and spend a lot of time dwelling and worrying over how ive dealt with the things she does.

We were at a play group this morning and she was being fairly rough with a 6 mth old but was trying to cuddle and be nice. It wasn't malicious at all. I was telling her to be gentle and trying to distract by giving her dolls and pushchairs etc but she was having none of it so I said to the mum just tell her, I don't mind so the other mum was saying be gentle darling, gentle hands etc.

Then she went up to a little girl who was standing on a platform and grabbed her and pulled her off down to the floor and the little girl really took a tumble. All the mums stopped and gasped and ran over.

I grabbed dd and took her away to tell her off, made her go and apologise, I apologised to the mum then left immediately to teach her a lesson.

She was saying sorry all the way home and said but mummy I was just trying to cuddle her which made me feel so bad. As she probably was just trying to cuddle her but didn't understand the consequence of her roughness.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened. She pushed a boy down the stairs at a play date recently. Total nightmare but the boy was amazingly uninjured. I left in tears with all the what ifs.

I just don't know how to deal and cope with her roughness with other children. I've lost friends over it. People we were seeing who just never contacted me again because I spent the whole time telling my dd not to grab and push their children. I know it's normal for this age but it just feels so intense and scary. I never know what she's going to do to someone next.

I'm having this very same issue with another friend whose son my dd manhandles and makes him cry. I discussed it with her and asked if she wanted to take a break on the meet ups for a while and she said no he needs to learn to be more assertive and tell her when he doesn't like what she's doing.

I'm so down about it. I just don't know what to do to get her to stop touching other children in such a rough and heavy handed way.

More than that, I don't know the best way to discipline it without making a big scene like I did today. Leaving in such an uncivilised way with a screaming tantruming toddler because she didn't want to go. I don't know if I did the right thing sad

KumquatMay Wed 20-May-15 16:30:18

Just off the top of my head, have you tried practicing holding a doll at home like a baby and getting her to touch or stroke it gently? That way you could remove the baby from her if she's too rough and then bring it back again for her to try again - obviously can't do that with a real baby so it might just get her used to associating gentle touch with babies. She could also try holding it in her lap very gently, with you taking it away if she's not gentle etc.

Superworm Wed 20-May-15 18:55:50

I think the best way is to remain calm and follow her around of you know she's likely to push other kids. Get in there fast when you see she's about to do it and do time out. Just take her to the side if the activity, explain why and if she does it again explain you will have to leave and follow through. Just repeat. It's a phase that will pass. thanks

BertieBotts Wed 20-May-15 19:24:44

It's practise. As you say, she's not meaning to hurt them, she just doesn't have the handle on the right amount of force yet. Yes role playing gentle baby care with a doll is a good idea.

Close supervision when she is around other children and try to step in if you see her getting frustrated to manage the interaction. Keep away from stairs, roads, rivers, etc with other children, unless she is with you and holding hands.

It's okay to take her out and make her apologise and such, and it's good in that other parents tend to want to see a situation being dealt with immediately, but it's not teaching her what you do want, so you need to work on that as a separate thing. Perhaps work on the idea of consent in general, so asking before she hugs/kisses/cuddles another child, to help her understand the idea of people not always being happy about being cuddled.

Often pushing/pulling around at this age is because they don't know another way to get somebody to do what they want, so you could try giving her some direct instructions (Why don't you ask X if she wants to play?) or working the situation into some pretend play with toys. Oh look, teddy wants to play with elephant, but elephant doesn't want to come out of his house. What shall we do? Make elephant react badly to being dragged or pushed, and if she doesn't try another approach (normal at 3 wink) then you could give her some pointers. Oh look, elephant feels really sad and cross now. Do you think we could make him feel better first? Oh great! Now he's happier. Now try. Until she hits on the right response (or you suggest to her "What about asking him nicely?" "What about getting something really exciting over here?")

Does she pull and push you around? I don't mean in a horrible way, but often at this age they can be so enthusiastic and adults are often receptive to a toddler taking their hand and leading them somewhere or pushing them, because it's funny and cute. However it's not funny or cute to other children, because she can actually physically shift them and that's probably a bit scary. Some kids make the distinction between adults and children, but others don't so perhaps if she does this, it would be a good idea to try and replace the behaviour by not moving/responding/following until she asks in the way you would like - I would suggest either her holding a hand out and waiting for you to hold it, or using a phrase like "come with me" along with no physical touch at all. So at first you just start using the phrase or gesture with her, and make sure to respond immediately if she repeats it back to you, and then you ask her to use it alongside the normal push/pull, then you ignore the pushing/pulling and wait (while reminding her of what you want) and eventually you just wait and ignore everything except the correct way to ask.

It's a phase - as others say. She'll get there. smile

BertieBotts Wed 20-May-15 19:32:11

Oh and - with the incident with the 6 month old. I think that you needed to be a little more proactive in that case. Instead of expecting the other mum to police her behaviour, you could have been closer to her physically preventing her from hurting the baby, reminding her to ask the mum if it's okay. When distraction was not working (which is fair, toys are less exciting than a real baby grin) then you could have engaged with her more directly and shown/modelled her how to react to a baby. If baby's mum seemed uncomfortable at any point or you thought she might accidentally hurt the baby, you could have taken her a little way away for a minute and then explained that babies are little, can easily be hurt, and we have to be very careful and made sure she was calm and not overexcited before you went back. (And again, only if mum seemed happy about you going back.) I think that "gentle" is often lost on toddlers, because they're not very clear about their own strength etc, "careful" can be better. Remember too that unless a new mum has older children, they can be quite freaked out by the normal behaviour of toddlers and not really know how to handle it. Even if they do have older ones, really, they are expecting you to handle it. So IMO you should be totally in control in that kind of situation, not sitting on the sidelines attempting to distract. But it's all a learning curve smile

BertieBotts Wed 20-May-15 19:36:38

In fact, I would do the little chat/reminder about babies being little and being careful before she approaches the baby - try to intercept and remind, then check with the mum that it's okay before you let her too close. It's less likely to be taken in if you're trying to drag her away than if you approach it more as "Ooh, exciting! Let's see together. Remember..."

TandemFlux Wed 20-May-15 19:48:18

Do you have animals? My cat has really helped my kids learn to use gentle hands.

Demonstrate what gentle hands are. So show her and then help her use a gentle hand. You many need to hold the back of her hand and lead her hand movement. All done in a gentle loving manner.

Also stop making it into a big issue! You are telling her off and getting her to apologise, then taking her home and discussing it on the way. All far too much attention for poor behaviour. Instead next time totally ignore you're child and ensure the victim is ok. Apologise to mum/child on behalf of your child while totally ignoring your child. Then quickly and silently and calmly remove your child from the play session and go home. Once outside neutrally and emotionlessly say 'you hurt the baby and so we are going home now'. Then ignore her. Don't discuss or huff.

LittlePink Wed 20-May-15 20:16:42

That's all brilliant, thank you all so much for the advice. I have a 4 mth old baby who dd is very rough with also. And we have a cat! The cat is right on the ball though and scarpers as soon as she comes in the same room. Our cat doesn't like the noise and the fast movements of small children so she keeps right out of the way until the evening when the kids are in bed then she comes back in and settles down with us! So getting dd to practice being gentle with the cat wouldn't happen as the cat is nowhere to be seen!

In terms of ds who is 4 mths, dd pulls him all around the place. Hits him on the head, kicks him when im feeding because she doesn't want me to feed him, puts her whole body on him in order to cuddle him but doesn't realise he cant take her whole weight on top of him, pulls his legs when im holding him and so on. Its a nightmare and i complain to dh about it every day who just passes it off like she just doesn't know her own strength, ds is more robust than he looks. Sigh.

Like tandem says I did make a big deal of it and a drama unfolded and a rather embarrassing exit. DD did bring it up again at bedtime and said sorry for today mummy, I wont ever drag * over again. I love you. And it broke my heart!

Its really interesting about the ignoring the behaviour though and focusing on the other child who's been hurt. I did look to find her but it was so crazy at the play group she'd vanished into the crowd by the time id taken dd aside to tell her off.

She has no concept of boundaries and I often tell her about giving people space etc but like bertie says I need to work on telling her to ask if the other child wants cuddles/ to play etc. Which I tried to do at bedtime but she just looked at me blankly. Hopefully it went in!

Hobby2014 Wed 20-May-15 20:25:00

Ignore me as I have no experience but is it a jealousy thing?
You say she reacts if you're feeding or holding your 4month old? Is she jealous of other babies and children?

LittlePink Wed 20-May-15 20:40:43

Shes definitely jealous of ds. But other children, shes just overly loving and has no idea of personal space. She is very sociable and is initiating play all the time, never aggressive but will manhandle the other child to force them to play with her, which the other child obviously doesn't like and I spend the whole time telling her not to do what shes doing.

One boy who we see regularly, she drags him around by his hood, tries to cuddle him forcibly, keeps bugging him by putting his hood on his head repeatably until he cracks and starts crying. Ive had long chats with his mum about it all and she doesn't want to stop seeing us.

Another younger girl we see, whos mum is a long term friend of mine is often dragged to the floor by her neck. It makes me feel physically sick and I spend the whole time apologising and trying to discipline her behaviour. Dh says shes just trying to mother the smaller ones which yes maybe she is, but she just doesn't get that they are smaller than her.

I feel like we cant see anyone without an incident occurring and often think we should just not see people but that's not the answer. Shes at pre school now which I was hoping would help but it hasn't so far.

Shes never malicious or aggressive towards other children. Its all over loving and desperation for someone to play with her and run around with her. She does a lot better with older children, who are bigger than her so she doesn't manhandle them and they play with her, especially older girls who hold her hand and take her under their wing, she loves that. I think shes just trying to do that to the younger ones but has no idea how to do it.

I just need tips on how to deal with her when shes manhandling, dragging, pushing and annoying the other children, and ive got some good tips so far, thank you.

CamelHump Wed 20-May-15 20:48:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Midorichan Fri 22-May-15 14:18:37

My son was always too strong for the other kids at playgroups and didn't understand so I had to stop going (at 18 months old for the VERY first time he figured out he could flap at another young kid to get a reaction and laughed when he caught him on the head. I apologised to the other mother after I told him to stop which he did but being a first time mum and NAIVE I thought he wouldn't do it again. He did a minute later (literally, just a flap which caught the other kid on the head again, I was mortified and rushed over just as the othe mother screamed out across the whole play centre "THAT'S JUST NASTY", then got in my 18 month's old face and told him what a nasty little boy he was. Needless to say, I have never taken him back to any play groups as, even though now at 23 months he's a really good little boy and now has never done that again, other mother's aren't so forgiving/undertsanding when it comes to stronger children, sigh) . I bought him a doll and used that to teach him gentle hands etc, was REALLY strict with time outs when he started to hit (his baby sister came along and he would hit at her for a couple of weeks until he understood it's not a nice thing to do), and it all worked really well. As long as he;s not starving he's become a good kid, just took a few hard weeks of solid constant teaching. I'm sure they'll still be hiccups along the way, but just be firm and consistent, they're still children and don't understand/can't always control themselves so it's understandable if some are a little rough you know?

BertieBotts Sat 23-May-15 18:16:18

You say that "just not seeing people" isn't an answer, but I and several friends did pare down our social visiting with toddler in tow at this age. Also try to keep an eye to see if there's any kind of time limit. Sometimes they have just had enough after an hour, or two, or 40 minutes. Short and sweet may be key!

girliefriend Sat 23-May-15 18:23:29

Is she quite physical generally? Like to be held tightly, tend to throw herself into things?

There are some sensory type issues associated with play roughness, some children just aren't able to gauge the correct amount of pressure to apply to things/ other people.

It may be worth reading around sensory processing disorder to see if any of it fits.

Also don't tell her what you don't want her to do but do tell her what you do want to see iyswim? So I want to see you play with the other children using gentle hands today sweetie....

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