Sometimes I seriously question my intention and motives for having children. Over the last 9 months or so probably more than ever. It’s no secret that Miss Mouse is a very bright little girl but with this there seems to come other problems and frustrations.
She always had a tendency to touch other children’s faces, this progressed to grabbing and scratching. As a very early walker so got to places and other children quickly and would then play well for a few moments before issuing a deathly blow to the unsuspecting, placid, minding-it’s-own-business baby. The first few times it happened I shrugged it off, thinking it was a Normal part of their growing up. I soon realised other babies weren’t doing the same! I think I almost expected them to retaliate, teaching Miss Mouse a vital lesson, that there is always someone bigger than you, this never happened.
I used to gently remind her to be gentle and then I’d get frustrated and tell her off, trying to reason with a 9/10 month old seemed to get me no where. I started researching it and as always people kept telling me it was a phase. Other mums started out polite but soon swooped in to save their children whenever Miss Mouse approached. I stopped going to play groups etc due to my embarrassment, and quite frankly didn’t see the point of putting myself through it as most times I’d end up sobbing as soon as I got home or in the car. I couldn’t understand how my beautiful, intelligent girl could become such a monster?!?
She’d thrive on picking on the weak, and no one seemed to fight back. I’d take her to soft play to try and burn some energy or aggression and she’d just bully the other kids into submission. My heart ached. Lengthy discussions were had in the evenings as a couple and some weeks she’d seem better and I’d think the phase had passed and then boom out of nowhere she’d be attacking some poor baby and looked very pleased with herself because of it.
When I fell pregnant before her first birthday I decided action was needed and we started to use the time out method, this soon became a game and she’d offer to go in time out. I would force her to say sorry when she clearly couldn’t give a damn and she gleefully continued scratching and hitting other kids. She loved getting a reaction from anyone that was watching particularly me. As I became sick and tired with pregnancy she got worse, my patience wore thin and then we had a good spell before the end of my pregnancy when it plummeted again. By this point I was near having a nervous breakdown thinking that my second baby wouldn’t survive her first night with Miss Mouse around. What had I done?? Guilt set in, shouting occurred, tempers were frayed and so I began to read every parenting book under the sun, something would provide the miracle cure. I found some great advice from attachment parenting sites and was convinced this was the way forward. Reasoning and love would overcome all evil, but was it too late to implement AP techniques, had a lost the vital time? When I should have been nurturing I was too busy sleep training and time outing?!
Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t, large crowds and over stimulation wiped out any loving reasoning I tried to do. Baby no 2 arrived and in fairness she was no where near as demonstrative as I expected. She really loves her little sister if only a little too heavy handed. I thought maybe the new addition may have calmed her. Nope! The last few weeks things have got progressively worse. Breastfeeding and new baby have left me tired and grumpy, unable to deal with Miss Mouses obvious frustrations. My loving parenting, talking it out techniques were leaving me drained, confused and taking my almost 2 year old daughters violent outbursts personally.
It peaked about 2 weeks ago when I physically wrestled her to change her nappy and again to get her in and out of her pusher. I snapped, couldn’t take anymore, sobbed, shouted, I needed intervention of any sort. I knew that day I had to change things or I was going to crack up or scar this child forever by losing my temper beyond control.
That night I trawled the Internet reading blogs about similar kids and feelings. I came across Janet Lansburys blog about the difference between AP and RIE (resources for infant educarers) it made sense. I’d found the missing link, I read and read for about 2 hours, making notes and trying to absorb as much as possible. It led me to Magda Gerbers site and I knew I’d stumbled on something precious. The next day I began to implement the techniques and they worked instantly, I kept looking at Gary in disbelief, I explained to him how I wanted him to talk to Miss Mouse and it worked too. My life changed that day.
It clicked, I’d lost the control to this demonstrative toddler and didn’t know how to regain it, I was taking her actions personally and had become scared of certain situations because of fear of how she’d react. A few days past and my little girl became more settled in herself, it was clear to see she was thriving and feeling secure with the boundaries that we were setting for her. Balance had been restored, I felt refreshed and fell back in love with my toddler. My achy heart felt weightless and bright. Guilt subsided and my friendship with her has been rebuilt.
I don’t want to change her feisty personality I just want to be able to manage her behaviour. It’s far from perfect, she’s a toddler, pushing boundaries is what she does but now I feel I am in control of those boundaries, they are clear and easily understood. Making life in our house bearable again.