Wednesday, January 11, 2012
What to do about toddler aggression?
This mantra has been overheard quite a few times over the past couple of days in our household. Emmy seems to have developed a rather sudden aggressive streak (hitting, biting and pinching) that she is taking out on mama, and only mama. Aren't I lucky??
It comes out of nowhere. I will be washing dishes, or playing a game with her, and suddenly Em will get this fierce, intense look on her face, and OUCH! she delivers a blow. Or several blows.
Now, I have seen my fair share of Supernanny. I know that it is important to make eye contact with your child, to get down on their level and speak to them in a serious, authoratative tone. Thus, I established the mantra. Sometimes, when I look Emmy in the eye and speak to her, she pulls her hands away and seems to have listened. Success! But most of the time, it seems this sets her off, and she gets more upset and hits/pinches with even more anger.
So for the first time in our roles as parents, we have established TIME OUT. C thinks it is important that we use those words in our mantra, i.e.: "Emmy.. Don't hit mama. That hurts mama.... If you hit mama again, I will have to put you in Time Out"
For yesterday's outbursts, we used the crib in Emmy's room as the "naughty chair", but C thinks (and I agree) that creating a negative association with her crib might be quite detrimental in the process of establishing a better bedtime routine. I have my reservations about a "naughty chair" because I am quite convinced that Emmy will either pop right up from the chair, or try to climb up on it and dance (yes, this is another not-so-great tendency she is starting to develop). If we use a "naughty step", Emmy will almost certainly use it as an opportunity to try climbing up the steps so that she can practice her yodeling from the top of the staircase. In other words, it is hard to find a situation that Emmy can't somehow manipulate into a fun time. We are thinking of trying a "naughty, empty play pen" in a secluded area (AKA, baby jail).
I am kind of wondering if this sudden aggression is due to her day care attendance (she has only been attending day care for about a month and a half now), or a cry for more of my attention (though frankly, in order to give her any more attention than I already do, I will have to cut back on some essential functions such as eating, peeing, and/or taking a shower)? I wish I could ask her to explain why she is mad, or sad, so that we could get to the crux of the issue, but if I ask her that question, she will likely answer "beggelserbiggebillmumm" (an approximation of her 15 month old lingo).
I am totally open to suggestions on discipline, except for suggestions that include hitting, spanking, biting, or pinching my girl. I'm a lover, not a fighter, and will not change the core of who I am, even if it means I will need to develop a lot more patience as a mommy.