Tag Archives: toddler transition

Social Aggression

For me, September has always been about transition and that seems to be holding true this year as The Girl begins preschool.

Friday was day one and I had the opportunity to sit with her for a few hours on her first day. It was tough for her, as to be expected, but not as tough as it could have been. Being that I still work p/t outside of the home and am only a p/t SAHD, The Girl has been going to daycare a couple of days a week -a daycare that is affiliated with her new preschool. The two facilities are a few blocks from each other and the daycare kids often go on field trips to “the big centre” to prepare them for the transition. Additionally, a few of her chums from the daycare have “graduated” to the big center, so the place is not without familiar faces. But still, it has been a transition nonetheless, and transition is not an easy thing when you are just shy of 3.

For me, the biggest shock on the first day was seeing just how big the kids are. The difference between The Girl and some of the 4 and 5 year olds was disconcerting, especially when I witnessed first hand some of the bigger girls already practicing the politics of exclusion and other socially aggressive tactics.

The Girl and I went downstairs where the kids have some space to run around and engage in physical play. A group of older girls were dressing up and pretending they were Princesses – fun and fairly innocuous until another girl tried to join in. The small group of girls told the newcomer that she couldn’t play with them – only Princesses were allowed to play with them. Fortunately, a staff member was right there and moved in to intervene, telling the girls that all the kids at the center are friends and that all the kids can play with whomever they want. The big girls immediately backed down and everyone did start playing happily together, but it makes me nervous to think my little girl is about to enter into a massively different world.

Later that night, perfectly on cue, I open my inbox to find the latest issue of Pediatrics for Parents, a newsletter I have just begun subscribing to. One of the articles was entitled Mean girls: social aggressiveness is mainly determined by children’s environment. I was a great and sobering read and brought back a lot of childhood issues for me.

As a boy, I was a fat kid and did face my share of exclusion, teasing and bullying. It was devastating and, even though it was 30+ years ago, I still occasionally find myself feeling like the fat little kid on the playground. I have a sneaking suspicion that what I experienced is only a fraction of the social aggressiveness my daughter may experience in her life simply by virtue of the fact that she is a girl and that frightens me.

I do take solace in the fact that the teachers at the preschool are very aware of social aggression and are on top of nipping it in the bud when it occurs. And I feel confident that we are raising a strong girl who won’t rely on external validation to fuel her self-esteem. But I still worry a bit more when I send her on her way in the morning than I did when she was heading off to daycare with the other 2 year olds, full of hugs and love for everyone.

A Bad Dad

Man, I hope we haven’t done any damage with this parental screw-up, but only time will tell.

First, a bit of background.

  1. It’s official. Baby #2 is on the way (YAY!)
  2. #1 has always wanted a baby sister/brother. She loves babies and is always mothering her teddies & dolls. I suspect all toddlers go thru a “mothering” phase with their teddies, but The Girl really seems to take extra joy in making sure her “babies” are well taken care of. For this reason, we have always thought that when baby #2 comes, there is a good chance she will be a fantastic older sister.
  3. The Girl rarely used a soother when she was younger, and hasn’t touched one for close to a year. 2 weeks ago, a suckie was found and, despite our best efforts, it hasn’t left The Girl’s mouth since.
  4. Mom still sometimes sleeps with The Girl at night.

So, 2 days ago the suckie went missing. The Girl has been a bit upset by the disappearance. Mom and I have been trying to explain that suckies are for babies and now that she is a big girl she really doesn’t need one. In fact, maybe we should save the suckies for the new baby. Mistake #1.

Also in the past couple of days, we’ve been trying to prepare The Girl for the fact that, when the new baby comes, Mommy may not be able to sleep with her in her bed because the new baby might need Mommy at night. Mistake #2.

So, we thought she had been taking all this news rather well. Until last night when we heard he utter, “Don’t want new baby. New baby go away. I have enough babies.”

My heart broke. I felt horrible. What have we done? The Girl had been so excited about having a new baby and in the course of a couple of days we have managed to suck all the excitement of having a new baby right out of her.

In retrospect, our mistakes were obvious, including the references to her becoming a “Big Girl”. I think that is going to stop. I only hope that we can get her back on track to being excited about having a baby brother or sister again.

I’m feeling like a terrible parent right now.