Friday, November 12, 2010

How to Beat a Bully

Eadith is proving to be quite the little bully! For 3 weeks now she has been pushing other kids, particularly Tori, as well as toddlers who are the same size as her. She seems to do it for no reason whatsoever, and it doesn't matter who or where. If someone walks too close to her, she pushes. If someone wants the toy she is looking at, she pushes. Sometimes she just walks up and does it just 'because'! Of course poor Tori gets the brunt of it as they are around each other the most. I have put it down to "finding her place", "trying to get others before they get her", "attention seeking", "standing up for herself", "seeing what she can get away with", and just plain "being a little ratbag".

I have tried a variety of different methods of discipline, including the regular naughty corner timeouts (seriously, up to 10 a day), sit down talks with her explaining why her behaviour is naughty, even smacking her on her hand or bottom, and of course, telling her to apologise to her victims. NOTHING WORKS!

So the other day when Tori AGAIN came to me complaining Eadie pushed her, I simply said to her, 'well, push her back". Vettoria was shocked! "no mummy!" she said, appalled I would suggest such a thing. I gave it some thought and decided to follow through with my random idea. "Sweetheart", I started as carefully as I could. "I think that Eadie is pushing you because she knows you wont push her back. But I think that if you push her back just once, then she will know what it is like to be pushed, and she wont want to push you anymore". I was making it up as I went along, but I had to admit, it also made a little sense...  I told Tori we were just going to try it one time, and that this was not something I wanted her to do all the time. She agreed and we both went about our own business again.

Sure enough, within the hour Eadie pushed Tori again for a very minor reason.  Tori instantly looked over at me with a look that said, "what do I do?" on her little face. I nervously motioned for her to push her back, and watched as Tori took a deep breath, moved closer to Eadie and gently pushed her. Considering Tori is double the size of Eadie she could have pushed her harder than she did, so I was proud that she chose to just do it gently. I held my breath as I waited for Eadie's response....

She was stunned! Eadith was pushed backwards but remained on her feet, and she looked at Tori with a look of shock. "No push me!" and said, hitting her own shoulder to emphasise her point. "No push me!" she said again. Tori stood her ground and glanced over at me, but then we were both surprised when Eadie got a sad look on her face, put her head down, moved closer to Tori and then hugged her. Tori hugged her back and I stood, still holding my breath. The two spread apart and went their own ways and only then did I breathe!

But this is the best part.... She didn't push Tori again all day! And THEN at Gym Playgroup this morning the assistant said she didn't push any other child! (Not even poor Kenzie who is her usual and victim choice). It was the first time in WEEKS that I had heard such news. I was stunned!

I don't know whether it is complete coincidence or whether Tori's brave effort to stand up for herself really did make a difference, but it has been almost two days and the results have been nothing short of a miracle.  All I know for sure is that Tori, Kenzie and I are very relieved indeed! Good work Tori, and good girl Eadie!

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