Monday, February 20, 2012

Wishing I Were Wrong

I have mentioned previously in various postings that there is a boy in Raphaela's class, Evan (name changed to protect the innocent)  who has tortured her and other children since the beginning of the year.  He is not a violent child, but rather undisciplined, with no sense of sharing or boundaries.  Very often, when I ask Raphaela with whom she played in Gan, she will give me the list of the 'good' kids, and then tell me that Evan pushed her, or hurt her finger, or took away her food during lunch.

This past Shabbat, Raphaela fell in the house and started crying, blaming Evan for her fall.  I immediately pointed out that there were no other children in the nearest vicinity, and that she could not blame Evan for the fact that she was tired and needed an afternoon nap.  For me, one of the most important adult skills I can teach my daughter is that of taking responsibility for your own choices and actions, and that means not blaming a kid who isn't there, even if he bullies her at school during the week.

Other parents have mentioned similar stories to me about Evan, and one of the mothers said, "I don't understand it, his parents are such sweet people..."  We cannot know what happens in their house, and why this boy behaves this way; I try not to judge and rather believe that every child starts out with goodness, and every parent starts out with good intentions.

 I complained at one point to the Head Nursery Teacher, pointing out that there should not be a "villain" in a group of two year olds, and the teacher said that his behaviour is "normal" for his age and his status as an only child.  I thought to myself, that thank G-d only out of 17 toddlers was acting "normally."  I do know, however, that Raphaela does not hit other children or terrorize them, and she is an only child as well, so the explanation doesn't quite wash.

Yesterday, Raphaela brought one of her favorite books to Gan, despite my objections.  As soon as we arrived, I asked one of her teachers to please put the book aside, in her drawer, as soon as possible, so it would not go missing.  At the end of the day, the book was no where to be found, and when I reluctantly searched the drawers of all the other children, I not surprisingly found it in Evan's drawer; muttering under my breath about "Little Mr. No Impulse Control."  As soon as I saw it, mangled in his cubby, I wished I had been wrong in my assumption.

I would like to give Evan the benefit of the doubt, and conjecture that the book arrived there accidentally. 


Midlife Singlemum said...

When DD hurts herself she often, through her tears, names another child and says he hurt her. I don't know if she's seen these other children being told off for hurting and so associates hurt with them or if she's remembering something that happened once in the past. Who knows how their minds work at this age.

Doc said...

NOTE to KGM: I think I specifically said in the posting that I want to give the best of intentions and the benefit of the doubt to both the child and his parents. I think I also said pretty clearly that I don't know what kind of boundary setting "Evan" gets at home, and I am not jugding him, or at least trying not to.
Bottom line, this kid is a bully, I don't know why and I do wish he would stop, yes, and I do hope that he gets what he needs in order to manage his two year old anger and frustration issues. He is only two years old, and he has a whole life ahead of him, he deserves, like any child, to live it as happily as possible.

koshergourmetmart said...

JSMBC: I am honored that you have addressed a comment direct to me, even though my comment has been deleted. I know it is painful to you (as it is for any mother) that your daughter is being harmed by another child in class and you feel there is nothing you can do to stop it and you do not understand why this happening even though you talk to the Gan personnel. In your post, you say you are giving him the benefit of the doubt. But are you really doing so? You say he is "torturing" your daughter and in addition you label him as a "bully" while in reality he presents as a 2 year old with boundary and impulse control issues. It does not seem like anger but I want this now! There is a difference b/w the two. The Gannenet should be enforcing discipline for him in terms of boundary and helping him with impulse controls and giving the parents the techniques they need to do so at home. Perhaps, at home since Evan is an only child his needs are met immediately and he does not act out at home - since he is an only child there is no one to push or take things away from. Perhaps, RR is different b/c a)she is a girl b) you are firmer with boundaries with RR than Evan's parents are with him.

Ariela said...

Two points:
1. SInce Even's parents are not at the gan, their discipline has nothing to do with this issue. It is totally the teacher's responsibility. You really don't know what goes on at his house and children often behave completely differently at home and at school.
2. RR was being the bully in the story that you told, not Even. She blamed a kid for something he didn't do. It sounds like the ganenet is letting the kids in the gan victimize Even and he is becoming the scapegoat.

Doc said...

OK, breathing deeply before I answer, and counting to ten. (That's called impulse control, people...)
1. Regarding my giving the benefit of the doubt, YES I AM. It is actually you, KGM and others, who would presume that when I say I want this boy to be happy and get the help he needs, you don't believe me. In the past, you have critisized me for being judgemental, and yet when I go out of my way to be understanding, you are critical of me in any case. I can't win, apparently, so I give up trying to make you happy.
2. Ariela, as far as your comment of Raphaela being the bully in this case, I would point out that she "blamed" Evan in the privacy of our home, not in front of others. As MSM pointed out, children tend to revisit old wounds, and I have seen with my own eyes this boy come up to Raphaela, hit her in front of me for no reason, and do so with a smile on his face. If Raphaela is drinking a cup of juice, he will come over and take it away and start drinking it. Again, saw it with my own eyes, OK? (Continued...)

Doc said...

And I will remind those of you again who have issues with literacy, I wrote in the post that I immediately told Raphaela that she cannot blame Evan for pushing her when he was not in the house. Neither is Evan responsible for the international economic crisis, nor Global Warming.
So Raphaela might be revisiting other times that Evan did hurt her, and that's perfectly human.

My bottom line being: I don't know how much or how little discipline this child gets at home. It is none of my business, and I cannot expect myself or any other parent to be perfect, as we all make mistakes. (KGM, that's me being self-effacing and admiting that I am not perfect. Comments? Criticism?)

And yes, it does seem to me that the Gan should be dealing with this in a more firm way, but again, I have spoken to the head nursery teacher and now it is up to them.

As a final comment, while I do not believe that any two year old is inherently malicious, I do beleive that when a child chooses to act out, they target other children. I do not want that other to be mine.

koshergourmetmart said...

speak to the gannenet again and have other parents speak to her as well about Evan's behavior. Speak constructively not with words like he is bullying but with examples-for instance, when I was here I saw Evan hit RR when I was visiting Gan. Perhaps with enough pressure they will help curb his behavior.

Amy Charles said...

Doc, I know this is your baby, but I think you're overreacting somewhat and maybe thinking about what happened when RR got scratched up.

What's going on is normal in a group of toddlers. "The biter" or "the hitter" is a stock character. The behavior usually vanishes without a trace. In the meantime, of course, you have to see that your kid is protected. So I would have a (calm) talk with the gannenet and find out what the plan is. I'm sure the parents are trying to deal with the situation, but how is the gan protecting other kids? How long will the gan let it go on before the child has to take a break from gan?

In the meantime, maybe focus on physical problems like shoving, hitting, biting, pinching, etc. Taking others' property...even the nicest toddler will do this sometimes, you know, they're not all at the point of accepting "mine" and "not mine". I would let that slide. If Evan were five or six it'd be another story.

The blaming...they're all going to forget this by the time they're five. Or the kid will be "Evan who used to hit but is nice now." I agree with MSM that the whole concept of time is still really not there in children that age, and that something vivid that happens is an "always" thing for a long time. The gannenet should also be listening for the "Evan did it" talk, but I'm sure she's seen this sort of thing before and is used to talking the kids through reality.

In the meantime, if you can't get any satisfaction, you can think about sending her to gan in a hockey mask....

Commenter Abbi said...

Totally agree with Amy. This is gan and this is completely normal toddler behavior. I remember when you wrote about this previously- and I thought this same thing. There is no such thing as a toddler bully. It just doesn't exist.

What there very well might be is inappropriate boundary setting- which is highly likely at a Montessori gan. It could very well be that they have more relaxed boundaries (that allow the children to explore on their own) that just don't work for this child. I have worked in an EC classroom such as this and it's a complete nightmare for children like Evan, however much the parents love the idea of it.

Also agree that whatever goes on at home is simply irrelevant. It's the ganenet's responsibility to set boundaries for him in school.

My 3 year old comes home every day with a different scratch from that he says are from his best friend. Because he doesn't cry or complain to the ganenet, they don't really know who they're from. Since my son doesn't really seem bothered by them, I just let them go.

It's entirely possible that she's turned Evan into her all purposes scapegoat for when bad things happen. Kids have very short term memories. They really don't "revisit" old wounds. I would encourage you to read up on some basic child development to put all of this behavior in perspective.

Ariela said...

doc, sorry I was being sarcastic and the point #2 got lost. My point is that 2 year olds are not "violent" nor bullies. They are babies. The Hamas are violent. I totally agree with Abby. My 17 year old was the "hitter" in his gan and now is the most charming popular and nice kid in the world. Your job is to protect RR and the gannets job is to make sure that happens.