Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Mother of the Biter

Motherhood is no walk in the park, as we all know. Especially when things happen that we never expected and/or wanted. My daughter has always been very physical in expressing her emotions. Even though R is a very verbally advanced child, she does not use her words much to communicate how she feels. Of course, she is only 2 ½ and verbalizing your emotions is a very difficult task that most grown ups are incapable of…
For a long time, R would hit other children or push them. Normal toddler behavior- she was pushed and hit back. However, I always felt that she displayed this aggression more than other children. Then, a few months ago, I was watching R and her best friend. They had been playing nicely all morning when a quarrel over a crayon began. I was on the other end of the room and before I could get over to the kids to break up the ‘fight’, it happened: R bit her friend! Really hard. Leaving a big bite mark that stayed visible for days.
I felt awful. I didn’t understand why my daughter would do such a thing. And it was under my supervision. I was very shaken by the incident and hoped that it would be a one time occurrence.
Of course, I haven’t been that lucky. R has now bitten on numerous occasions. It’s not a daily or even a weekly thing, but it isn’t infrequent enough to be able to look at it as out of the ordinary. She attempted to bite one other child once, but was stopped before it happened. She also bit her brother once. Other than those two instances, all biting has been directed at the same child- her best friend.
As you know, I tend to get overly worried about things and have to research solutions until my head hurts. This behavior was no exception. It is on my mind constantly. I don’t want my child to bite other children! A lot of you other mothers will know that it is a phase that quite a few toddlers go through. It is nothing alarming- it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with them or that they are bad children. It is just another way that these children are expressing their anger and frustration.
I know all these things in theory. However, when I am told by the ladies at the Moms Morning Out that R goes to twice a week that she tried to bite again, it’s like a punch in the stomach. I don’t want her to hurt other children! I don’t want to be the mother of the child who hurts others! You can't help questioning your own parenting.
But I am that mother. And on top of worrying about the child who keeps ending up on the receiving end of R’s aggression, I also have to worry about my own child. It is also affecting her own well-being. Others are starting to behave differently towards her. There is resentment and distrust in the air- I can feel it and I’m positive so can she. I want to protect her from being the ‘bad’ child that I know she isn’t. She has become increasingly anxious- she has even started biting her nails.
I have a plan in place, with the ultimate solution being to take her out of the Moms Morning Out program. We are trying different approaches with R to help her deal with her emotions better. It isn’t easy being R- she became a big sister at a very young age when she still needed my undivided attention. She is also extremely intelligent, which seems to stand in her way more than benefit her at the moment. Even though she is exhibiting this aggressive behavior, she is actually very sensitive and her emotional world a very delicate one.
We definitely have our work cut out for us. However, I am confident that we will get through this phase just as we have with any other. I honestly can’t wait. Nobody wants to be the mother of a biter…

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