As I write this I am full of cold, have had a long day at work and have spent the last couple of hours thinking about my daughter’s latest ‘incident’ at nursery.
We have a lot of ‘incidents’ at nursery.
Over her short life, our precious, loving, chatty, caring, gregarious little girl has pushed, bitten and scratched her peers many times. The bites were around the toddler stage and the progression to scratching has been over the last year or so. She is now three and a half and goes to nursery five days a week.
As a parent, if your child is hurt by another child, it is horrible – I get that.
If it is your child that has done the hurting, believe me, it is a million times worse.
The embarrassment, the shame, the lack of understanding as to why your child does this when every other child you know doesn’t. Feeling like your child will be ostracised from the nursery-society, won’t make friends, will be hated and lonely. Feeling guilty that she does this because Mummy works full-time and she misses me.
When our daughter has a day of ‘incidents’, my whole day is ruined. I could have had a really productive day in the office but when I pick her up and get the awkward look from the nursery staff and if it is pretty bad, an ‘incident’ form to sign, it sends me reeling with anxiety and stress.
We are currently at a loss as to what to do and are now engaging SENCos and I’m also going to book a doctors appointment without her to discuss. She doesn’t miss a trick and listens to everything, so she definitely can’t be with me when I start trying to explain her behaviour through quivering bottom lip.
To give them their due, the nursery have been supportive and when I’ve cried in their office they have comforted me, offered me a tissue and said that she isn’t the only child they have seen with these tendencies. It still doesn’t make me feel much better.
Part of our issue is that she very very rarely has any incidents when we are around. As an only child she doesn’t have any siblings to hurt and she doesn’t hurt us. Her close friends whom she has grown up with also no longer get hurt (although there was the occasional one during the toddler phase).
We’ve tried reward charts, treats, taking things away and time-outs (which isn’t suitable if the incident was several hours ago at nursery). We try and talk to her about it. We’ve been stern, we’ve been gentle and supportive, yes we’ve shouted when we are at our wits end and don’t know what to do.
It is relentless.
Quite often I feel like I just want to take a few months off work to just focus on our daughter and try and sort out whatever is going on in her little head. Only, I’m not in a position to do that.
We have had weeks and even months of no incidents and then suddenly a spate of them. A lot of the time the staff say there was nothing to provoke it. This makes it worse – random acts of aggression with no visible reason.
Her behaviour is a source of tension between Mummy and Daddy. I take the overly soft stance and Daddy takes the firm stance. Neither of which seem to be working. If anything, I think she is worse when there is tension at home – something that is hard to address when you’re tired and stressed from trying to be the model worker, model Mum and model partner. I just want all three of us to be happy and have fun days.
But, there is hope.
This week we’ve had two party invitations.
To me, it is like I’ve won the lottery. Knowing that a child at nursery wants my daughter to come to their party makes me so incredibly happy and relieved. I could jump for joy.
With school starting in September, we are desperate for this problem to resolve itself. We have been told she is ‘high functioning’. What does that mean? Does that mean she is on the spectrum? Does it mean she is just quite bright and is developing asynchronously? I don’t know.
But what I want to say is this.
If your child is on the receiving end of a bite or a scratch, the chances are the parents of the ‘young offender’ are absolutely mortified. They will do their best in conjuction with the nursery setting to resolve the problem. They will google everything to do with an aggressive child and will read copious articles. They will drop their child off wishing them a good day and hoping beyond all hope that they really do have a ‘good day’. They will praise their child when there are no incidents and they will talk to their child when there are. They will ask why they did it and whether they said sorry to your child. They will seek the help of professionals.
Children are all different, and some express themselves differently and need a little more help as they grow. Please consider this before you judge them and their parents. We are already feeling fragile enough as it is.