Years ago, when I was a much younger and less experienced parent (and actually thought there might be a Right Way to do things, that only I didn’t know) Big went to nursery. It was a very good nursery. The staff cared very much about the children, and they were all very calm, highly qualified and experienced. They taught me a lot about child rearing, some of which I’ve now decided I don’t really agree with, but all in all, it was useful.
One of the things I learnt early on is that it’s highly embarrassing if it’s your child doing the naughty thing. Not that naughty is a word the nursery, or we, use. But it’s upsetting to be called in for chats at the end of the day because your darling offspring has taken to sinking her teeth into another child.
It happened in batches every so often and always that one child. He was her best friend – I got to be very good friends with his mother, and we used to do pick up runs, or even have the children on sleepovers from around 2 iirc. The nursery were at a loss as to why she was doing it – it didn’t seem to be in anger, and didn’t fit any of the patterns they were familiar with, and the only answer they could come up when redirection etc didn’t work was to split them up. Which meant we had two unhappy children 🙁 His mother nicknamed Big Hannibal, which seemed only fair tbh.
Eventually she just stopped doing it, and we all breathed a sigh of relief, particularly her little friend I suspect.
And all of this came back to mind this week, when Small screamed suddenly as Smallest quietly sank her teeth into his (slightly sunburnt) arm. She left a fairly substantial mark, and really did make him cry, and I got her to hug him and say sorry, and then had a long chat with dp about it all.
We think we may have sussed it now. We think it’s because she can’t get his attention any other way. Small has a one track mind – if he’s in the middle of doing something, it’s very difficult to get his attention. Smallest can’t call out his name, or lay a hand on his shoulder as I often do, so we think she’s calmly decided that sinking teeth in works well. And I think the answer is that he’s going to have to learn to notice when she wants him, and head off the nipping at source. Which will be very good for him.
Things I haven’t done to resolve this issue include biting her (seriously, ppl have recommended that in the past. It’s so far past wrong that we won’t discuss it any further), shouting at her, telling her off, sitting her in time out or rapping her knuckles or bottom (again, recommended by others. Sigh.) Instead I’ve shown her that Small is sad, reminded her to be gentle and shown her how to hug him and stroke his arm to get his attention.
And I’m now wondering if it was a similar thing with Big. Perhaps her little friend was just busy and wasn’t giving her the attention she felt she deserved. I know we’ll never know, but it’s an interesting thing to ponder on.
Have you ever been the parent of the child causing problems? What’s your reaction or solution?