Monday, December 26, 2011

Bullying in Gan

One of the new boys this year at Gan has what his parents call an "impulse control disorder," and the nursery teacher tells me that it is "normal" for kids this age.

I don't care what you call it, this two year old has all the makings of a bully, and I am tired of Raphaela being the target of his irrational behaviour.  Twice already, when I have come to pick her up at the end of the day, I have witnessed him pushing Raphaela for no reason, grabbing away toys just because he wants them, and feeling no sense of remorse.  I don't know what happens the rest of the day when I am not present and observing.  At Raphaela's Gan birthday party, he spent the entire time torturing Raphaela ie taking away her birthday cake, pulling out her chair from under her, and hitting her.  My daughter talks about him at home all the time, and not in a positive "I want to play with him" way.

Yesterday, he walked over to Raphaela as I was standing there, and hit her in the chest.  I looked at him sternly and said, "No!" at which point he started crying, probably shocked at hearing the word.  When his mother came a few minutes later she said, "Oh, did someone offend you?"  When the nursery teacher explained the situation, she tried to get her son to apologize, but Raphaela ran away from him in fear.

The nursery teacher tried to tell me that this boy gets tormented by other children, so I shouldn't think that he is The Bad Seed Kid in the Gan.  Having been bullied and abused as a child as the adults in my life stood by, I will not let them happen to my daughter.

I cannot give the definitive answer on nature vs nurture, and I do believe that all humans are born with their essential personality.  It is our job as parents to set limits, and to guide our children toward the healthy and productive path.


Commenter Abbi said...

If the gannenet is not setting boundaries with this kid, that's a big problem. You need to firmly tell her that you don't care what the other kids are doing or not doing to him, they need to protect rr. Try "Ani lo mekabelet et hahitnahagut hazeh v'ani meod mekava shegam at lo mekabelet et zeh". If she gives you a song and dance that there are so many kids in the gan, stand firm and repeat the above.

koshergourmetmart said...

What is happening to your daughter is not bullying in the way that bullying that takes place in grade school to high school. I think that you are taking your feelings about your past and projecting into this situation. "Having been bullied and abused as a child as the adults in my life stood by." It is good you are standing up for RR and it sounds like the other parent is aware of right and wrong as seen by her trying to get her son to apologize. According to Marilyn Segal, a
developmental psychologist, "he hasn't done anything wrong other than test boundaries, which is what 2-year-olds do. No matter how annoyed you are with her mom or dad for not intervening, keep your irritation in check. Two-year-olds are smarter than most adults think, and they have powerful radar for negative feelings. If your child's friend picks up on your annoyance, he may act out even more." (
here is a story that sounds similar to yours "My daughter will be 2 on the first of March and we seriously need to do something about her bullying behavior. She really only picks on one little girl, my full time daycare girl.As time goes by, my daughter has become out right mean to this little girl. It started with biting several months ago. She isn't the only person my daughter bites, but she is the victim most often. Now, DD doesn't want my daycare girl to play with any of the toys. She pushes, hits, smacks her on the head, bites, etc. They used to play together pretty well the majority of the time. They'd sit on the Lego table and build blocks together, trade baby dolls back and forth, race strollers around the house. Now, DD doesn't want anything to do with her.When she's physical with her, DD is removed from the situation and daycare girl is comforted. I try to go a little over the top with the comfort because I want DD to see that my attention is focused on the one she hurt, if that makes sense. DD will kiss the boo-boo she caused and give hugs, say she's sorry... without any prompting from me most of the time. I hate to say it this way, but it seems like she just doesn't like her and I don't know quite how to handle that." answer; Your dd is just turning 2 and that is when the "NO! MINE!"s start to kick in big time. Her behaviour is not "acceptable", but it is textbook normal, I promise you that. I encourage you to try not to think of her as a "bully", even in your own mind. You are laying older-kid intentions on her little toddler actions.

It seems like there are 2 mains things at play. One is that she doesn't want to share her toys. The other is that her way of communicating her anger/frustration/etc is to hit/bite/etc.

koshergourmetmart said...

Some things we've tried to do around here to ease the difficulty of sharing is to talk about it as "taking turns" (daycaregirl is taking her turn with the doll, when she's done you can take a turn with the doll), tried to have doubles or multiples of most kinds of toys (ie. daycaregirl is playing with a ball, dd wants the ball, you re-direct her to play with a different ball), and orchestrated trades. Another thought that comes to mind for your particular situation. Would it be possible to have a box of toys that only comes out during "daycare" time? That way it isn't that dd has to share *her* toys, but that they are both playing with neutral toys. It might help a bit.

Regarding the hitting, biting, etc, I think you need to address it in a couple of ways. First of all there's the immediate safety of the other kid(s) to take into consideration. While your dd is going through this phase you need to be on her like a hawk. Watch for any signs that she might be gearing up to strike out and intervene before it happens (ideally). Also keep an eye out for her general mood - is she hungry? tired? Kids who are running low on energy are way more likely to act out than well-fed and well-rested kids. Try to make sure you stay on top of offering frequent snacks and not letting nap time get pushed too late, etc.

The other aspect of the hitting etc that you can start working on is teaching her not just how NOT to act, but how TO act when she's feeling angry, sad or frustrated. Give her the words to her emotions (ex. "dd is mad! dd wants the doll!"). She is still v. young so keep it simple for now. Start the ground work now by explaining that she needs to use her words instead of hitting, and if she's having a problem with another kid she can come to you for help. She has pretty minimal impulse control at this point so I wouldn't expect to see any major changes right now, but I still think it's important to start the dialogue about problem-resolution even from a young age.

I think you are absolutely right that she is (probably... some might disagree) too young to "get" time-outs. I'm also very happy to hear that the idea of spanking has been removed from the table. At this age I think your best bet is to a) keep a very close eye on her to head off confrontations, b) use distraction/re-direction whenever possible, and c) try to set yourself up for success by making sure everyone's well-fed and well-rested.


koshergourmetmart said...

2 years olds are irrational and it is up to adults to help correct it and discipline (according to merriam-webster it means training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character). As Commentator Abbi points out, it is up to the Gannenet to help with this boy's behavior and not to stand by when he is harming RR. If he is being tormented by other kids, then she should stop this behavior as well.

Leora said...

My friend's kid used to hit, knock down or push my son every time he saw him. My son (at 2 1/2) started to avoid this kid! My friend was consistent in telling him that what he was doing was wrong. Eventually he grew out of it. They aren't best friends, but they do play together nicely now.
My son is the only one we have so far- my friend has 2 other kids. This makes a big difference. Only children get much more attention and their parents can stress manners and discipline them more. When it's someone's 2nd or 3rd, the rules become harder to enforce.
This is just what I've seen over the years when I taught. All you can do is empower your daughter and give her self confidence to stand up for herself. However, remember that you can't judge children for their toddler behavior. Most will grow out of it!