It was as if it happened in slow motion. I saw Freya clock the little girl with the cheese sandwich by the ball pit but never did I expect her to storm over, push her to the floor and take it.
Mortified on one level and concerned on another – not least because she is dairy intolerant so one bite could spell trouble – I nabbed Freya, handed the half-eaten andwich back to the rather shocked child and quickly apologised to her mum who was very gracious and said not to worry.
The trouble is, I am worried because it is not the first time something like this has happened.
I know she is only 14 months but most other children in her classes don’t go around nicking toys, pulling hair and becoming enraged when you take something from them.
That’s not to say she is like this all the time. Often she is the loveliest, sweetest and gentlest little girl. For example, I often use the ears of her rabbit lovey to tickle her under her neck which she finds hysterically funny but yesterday lunchtime, as I was putting her down for her nap, she did the same to me. I thought it was a fluke at first but she did it again and again and when I laughed so did she. She loved making me happy.
And, don’t get me wrong, I want her to be able to stand up for herself and I love that she is spirited but I don’t want to raise…dare I say the word…a bully.
My mum said I have caused her behaviour. “When she said jump, you jumped,” she said, referring to some of the things I had to do to stop her reflux, such as holding her day and night when she was a baby or not letting her cry it out in her cot (although, even if she didn’t have reflux, I would choose not to use that method). So, as it seems I have caused it, I thought I would have a go at making it better. I’m not sure if any of the following are working but I figure they can’t make it any worse.
* I got her a doll with long hair (which I initially thought was a Zingzilla but apparently they are something different entirely) and I repeat “gently” in a soft, calm voice while stroking her hair (hopefully not in a crazed “I’m going to take over the world way”). She finds this funny. Success rate – 1/10
* When she turns into The Hulk because I have taken something from her (usually because she is throwing it about or tipping her entire bottle of water over herself), I put her across the other side of the room (which is not far in a flat) and ignore her until she calms down. 7/10
* While we are out, if she takes a toy from another child, I take it off her and make a show of giving it back. 4/10
* When she does share her toys, I praise her by saying “good sharing, well done.” I also try and encourage the use of please and thank you by giving her things, like a brick, and then asking for it back. If she gives it, which 99% of the time she does, I thank her with a smile and a “good girl” (she has started calling herself a good girl, or what sounds like it in toddler speak, which is cute). 7/10
* While we have friends with children, it seems to be in a group situations that she does those things so I’m trying to get her into a regular playgroup where we can go every week so she socialise. N/A
What do you think? Am I worrying too much or not enough? Any tips on what I should be doing?