Picking up bad habits…

Oh, boy; was I unprepared for this one. At least, I had no idea it might occur so soon, at her tender age. My daughter, at 3+ years old, it seems, is already running with that bad crowd. Those daycare hooligans.

Of course, I kid. Well, mostly, anyhow.

She has picked up some horrid habits, from exposure to others, her age. She only just entered a couple of months ago, when I started working there and, already, I see traits I’m going to have to help her unlearn. For example, there is (what I like to call) the daycare whine. Because there are so many kids in one room, with one or two teachers, they learn that the most efficient way to get our attention is to cry about nothing, as though they’re still newborns with no access to legitimate communication. The reason it frustrates me, is because the older kids can talk, but choose instead, to whine out half sentences in high-pitched, dramatic scenes. Kyra has taken to doing this at home, too. She has started talking worse and bursting into tear-less tantrums better. It’s rather discouraging.

Also, you see, she has begun to hit people to get her way more regularly, telling me “no” with the self-assured, know-it-all, ridiculous attitude of a  worldly teenager, and (most awkward of all) exploring her nether regions. She has noticed that certain things “tickle” her ‘tutu’ (our cutesy word) and I’m going to address that, first, because I feel weird talking about it, but it really is way too common an issue at this age, to ignore and leave all you other new(ish) parents hanging, as though you’re the only ones going through it. I am trying to discourage the behavior without freaking out about it, making it a taboo, or letting her feel like she’s gross and there’s something wrong with her. I had to sit down with her and explain that she only needs to have her hands down there when she’s washing up in the tub, or wiping after she goes potty and she seemed okay with that. It did afford me the opportunity to make sure she knows that NO ONE ELSE is EVER allowed to touch or “tickle” her tutu; without it being a weird or random subject. I think that talking about this behavior, and addressing it candidly has got to be the best way to go. I think it takes care of the immediate issue and opens communication for later, in life, when they have much harder questions about this mostly innocent exploration of their bodies.

As for the hitting, I act like my feelings are hurt, gazing at her with a mixture of shock and pain, to let her know that it’s something to be ashamed of; striking without provocation. Self-defense is one thing. Entirely another, is to hit someone who’s innocent. If she remains unfazed (which has only happened once or twice), I merely don’t talk to her for a bit, so she can see that she hurt me, without condoning or encouraging the behavior by hitting her back.

Her telling me “no”, when I ask her to clean up the three-hundred toys she dumped out for fun on the living room floor, only to let them sit there all day (for a recent example), is usually met with an “attitude adjustment”. Attitude adjustments are just periods of being alone in her room with no television, to think about what she’s done. It’s probably the most effective punishment, in that, it hurts her pride, and she knows that she’s done something inappropriate. I allow her to play quietly, but she rarely wants to. She usually cries for a few minutes and then apologizes to me, asking to come downstairs with me, again. Her defiance is diminished, and she quickly returns to her sweet, cheerful self, laughing easily at any silliness and cleaning up with the accompaniment of the old, familiar song. I always tell her that I love her, and that all I ask is that she respect Mommy, the way I respect her. I let her know, calmly, that I tell her things for a good reason, to teach her, or help her, or save her from some disaster (like running into the street, or eating cleaning products), and not just to be mean and punish her. I always try to explain that when I tell her “no”, it’s for her sake; not mine.

All I can do is keep on truckin’ and hope that, one day, she understands all of that.

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