Monday, September 20, 2010

Challenging Behavior #9

Some new questions have come from readers concerning biting. For those of you who would like to see what was said about biting during infancy, please revisit and review the August archive, Challenging Behavior #2.

Let’s think about a scenario with a younger and older sibling, a toddler and a preschooler. First, let’s look at life from the toddler’s point of view. With not a lot of verbal skills to describe what is on his mind, a toddler relies on a few of his tried and true behaviors that get what he needs. Developmentally, a toddler is at the stage of “If I have it, it’s mine; if I see it, it’s mine; if you have it and I want it, …” I think you get the picture. They are trying their best to figure out how to get what they want—immediately.

Now let’s look at life from a preschooler’s viewpoint. With lots a verbal skills in place the preschooler has learned that he can verbalize what he needs. He can use his verbal skills to negotiate with parents who understand him. He also has a longer attention span and he uses his thinking skills to build wonderfully imaginative structures that require lots of parts. However, he is still a child and unable to take another person’s point of view.

Imagine now a living room floor in the home of a toddler and preschooler. For a brief moment, we have a scene of blissful sibling parallel play. The blocks are randomly scattered with toy figures and vehicles. The preschooler is creating a garage and the toddler is scuttling about picking up one block and then another.

However, in the next moment the toddler sees a car and the preschooler, having finished his garage, reaches for the same car to put inside. The toddler grabs also, but falls short of the mark. He has no words to express his frustration, but he does have a set of teeth and he sinks them into his brother’s arm.

There is no option for a parent but to react. The screaming preschooler is hurt, the toddler is startled. How we react to this and the many similar episodes that are certain to follow will teach both children a great deal about the concepts of love, kindness, caring, power and punishment. The big question is what do we want to teach our children?

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print

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