Remember the bad case of the “No Daddy”s that Owen had a few weeks ago? Well, we seemed to have curbed that behavior, for the most part, with some positive redirection (“We don’t say ‘No Daddy’. How about we say ‘Hi, Daddy!’ Or, ‘love you, Daddy!’”). Once in awhile a “No Daddy” still escapes those little lips, but usually it is more of a joke or saying it with a smile to get a reaction from us.
But now the “No _____s” have taken an unfriendly turn.
At daycare this morning when I dropped Owen off, he was the first to arrive (as usual). He sat at the little table and started his breakfast while his little friends came in. As soon as his classmate Lily walked in, Owen was all, “Noooo Lily! Push Lily! NO LILY.” Mind you, he didn’t actually push her, but he said the words and stretched his arms out to keep her at arm’s length. But she wasn’t even trying to touch him. In fact, she wasn’t doing anything at all but taking off her coat with her mom.
After school sometimes on the drive home, I’ll be asking him about his day and he’ll stretch his arms out and say, “Noooo Keira! Push Keira.” Or sometimes even, “Bite Keira”. I know from talking to his teachers that he isn’t actually pushing or biting (usually…), but that he’s been saying “No” to his friends A LOT recently. I guess this is a better behavior than being physically aggressive, but it’s still not very nice. But then again, what does a 2 year old know (or care) about being nice?
It’s a fine line, you know? We teach him to talk about his emotions and tell us in words what is bothering him. And then when he’s actually trying to express it, we respond by telling him, “We don’t say ‘No’ to our friends”. It’s contradictory. It’s confusing. I get it.
His teachers and I think it has to do with attention (which certainly harkens back to last week’s post about giving him my undivided attention 100% of the time when we are together). He likes to be the only kid in the room. The star. The little ham. The center of attention. When another kid walks in the room, bam! he’s got competition. So he reacts in a very natural way, he says “No” and tries to push them right back out the door. Maybe this is Owen’s way of struggling with realizing that he’s not the center of the universe. I think that’s where a lot of the “No Daddy”s came from too. He wanted to have me all to himself, and Daddy was encroaching on his territory.
Even though I can understand where it’s coming from, it’s still not a nice behavior. Just like with the biting incident, I want him to know that his actions can hurt his friends (both physically and emotionally), and that it’s not ok to yell “No” in someone’s face and to talk about pushing and biting them. While I know it’s a totally normal behavior, I don’t want other kids or other parents to think he is mean or aggressive.
I’m struggling too, I guess. I don’t want him to be a bully. But he’s not really being a bully… he’s being 2 years old.
Does your toddler do things that seem mean or aggressive to other kids? As the parent, do you feel responsible for that behavior? Or have you seen other kids be “mean” to your kid? Do you blame the child or the parent in that situation?