Monday, August 2, 2010

No Mama Bullies!

Most if not all of the babies in our group have gone or are going through a grabbing phase. Isla is definitely no exception. It's hard for her not to grab when she sees a toy she wants to play with in the hands of another baby. The natural reaction might be to then grab the toy from Isla and hand it back to the child who was initially playing with it, but I don't think that's right. How can I show her grabbing is wrong when I do the exact same thing to her? Would I teach her not to hit another baby by hitting her? The better choice is to try to get her to give the toy back on her own. Almost always easier said than done. An important piece is to give her a way out so that she can feel like she is doing good by sharing back with her friend, rather than making her feel like she did a very naughty thing and shaming her into giving it back. I say things like, "Isla, Brody was playing with that fish, and he seems really sad that you took it. Can you give him his toy back and make him really happy?"

When this technique works (it usually does) both babies end up happy, not to mention the mommies. When it doesn't right away, I am still modeling for both babies that the way to solve problems is to talk things out, for as long as it takes. Taking the "quick and easy" route of grabbing the toy back from the child who took it may seem like you are "sticking up" for the victim, but really it teaches both children that the bigger, stronger person may grab, and that that is how one gets what she wants. It's really hard, but I am constantly trying to make sure I only use force with Isla when her safety or the safety of another baby is at stake. This goes for "time to go," "time to get in your carseat," and "time to brush teeth" to name just a few.

Sometimes Isla is just not in the mood to cooperate at all. She is expressing her frustration (or exhaustion, or over-stimulation...) by having full blown tantrums lately. My patience is tried daily. I do use force to just hold her when she's having a tantrum unless there is a safe spot on the floor and she seems to need her space to squirm and kick, but then I try to keep a hand on her and tell her I hear her and I love her. I also try to put words to what she might be feeling, and she seems to like that. Sometimes. More on tantrums later.

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