I'm not sure
how this habit started. We made it through the biting phase relatively
unscathed. She really only ever bit me, and while she did leave a mark or two, I was forever thankful that she never turned her teeth on other little ones.
But this? This
is different. At 16 months old, she has decided that clawing her little hand up
and swiftly scratching at the faces of others in moments of frustration or
fatigue is acceptable. Invade her
personal space bubble? She will face-claw you. Refuse to give her something she
desperately wants? Prepare to defend your eyeballs. And don't even think about
taking away a toy that she has claimed as her own. My little girl will go full Wolverine for such an infraction.
At first, it
was only me she face-clawed — and that was bad enough. Explaining away the
scratch marks on your cheeks by saying you were a casualty of toddler violence
can be funny in the moment, but let's be real, those claw marks hurt! And no matter
how short I clip her nails, she still keeps seeming to find a way to dig in
I've felt an increasing sense of dread every time she is around another child
these days. Because it was one thing to have her face-clawing me. It is another
thing entirely now that she has started doing it to any little one who dares to
get too close.
My kid, the
I don't get
it. I really don't. This little girl is so sweet and affectionate, 90 percent of
the time. She gives kisses without being asked and loves to be cuddled up in my
lap. She wraps her arms around necks in the sweetest of hugs, and she has been saying "love you" for at least the last month or two. But cross her,
and prepare to be face clawed without remorse.
I have really
struggled with what it means to be the mother of "that" kid. Most of my friends
have children who are just a few months older than my daughter, and to see her
being the aggressor with them particularly makes my heart sink. My friends take
it in stride, understanding that this is just a phase kids go through. But I
hate watching my little girl behave so cruelly to these kids who otherwise love
her so much.
So here we are. My kid, the bully, forever on the verge of pulling a Jekyll and Hyde. And me, the mommy, not so secretly lamenting the fact that her child has become "that kid."
breaks my heart.
So I have
tried everything I can think of to stop this behavior. Timeouts. Demonstrating
gentle hands. Eye contact and a firm "no." Even once slapping her hand
in the middle of Costco when she nearly took out the eyes of my friend's little
course, immediately started crying. As did he. And there I was in public, with
two crying toddlers, feeling like the worst mom to ever walk the planet.
Particularly because I have always maintained that I have no interest in
physically punishing my child. Ever. For any reason.
thought, I slapped her hand in response to her hurting another child. It apparently did not get the message across, because 10 minutes later, she
was face-clawing him again.
I really am at
a loss. How do you teach a child that young empathy and how to play kindly with
others? Because I'm pretty sure when I told her the other day that she was on
the verge of losing all her friends, the message didn't quite sink in the way I
would have hoped.
So here we
are. My kid, the bully, forever on the verge of pulling a Jekyll and Hyde. And
me, the mommy, not so secretly lamenting the fact that her child has become
"that kid" while secretly
hoping that another kid will put her in her place sooner rather than later.
Because maybe in the vicious world of toddler play dynamics, all it really
takes to cease a bully's poor behavior is for a bigger and badder bully to take