Learning to deal with aggression

Titus still doesn’t understand the concept of sharing and patience. And so playtime with other children can get rather rough when things don’t go his way.

I preempt any potential clashes by watching him closely and plucking him out of a situation quickly. That always follow with a stern explanation about playing nice and not snatching toys from others.

But while I’m teaching him that, other kids come along and get rough with him, doing the very things that I tell him are wrong. 

And while I can correct my child’s wrong behavior, I cannot do the same with someone else’s children. So the only way to stop two children from fighting is to remove my own child from the bad situation.

Even barely two years old, I’m sure Titus feels indignant when he’s made to give up a toy or play area he had a go first.

This afternoon we visited a popular indoor playground in town. Right from he start Titus spotted a toy bus he was interested in, and made a beeline for it. The toy bus at that moment was in the possession of an older boy, and I knew what Titus would do. So I leapt in and brought him to another corner to distract him. “Wait for your turn,” We told Titus.

As he played, I noticed him turning occasionally to check on the toy bus. He was waiting for his turn.

When the older boy left to go watch a mini musical in the theatre, Titus ran over and was elated to finally get his hands on the toy.

That joy was shortlived because minutes later, an older girl came and snatched the bus and ran away. Titus was unable to run as fast, and the look on his face broke my heart. Oh, it truly smashed my heart to smithereens because I could not do anything to right it.

I could not snatch the toy bus back from the offensive girl because as the adult, I’m supposed to lead by example and be generous and forgiving.

I could not explain to my son why he had to wait patiently for his turn when others did not have to do the same.   

That sadness I felt turned to annoyance when I noticed the offensive girl’s grandmother watch the entire episode without disciplining her ward.

I know Titus can be rough at times and I always apologise to the child and his caregiver if they were together. That’s just the right thing to do but of course, it takes all kinds of people to make this world, so I cannot expect everyone to behave properly.

After that toy bus incident, I made sure to keep Titus far from the offensive girl. 

But their paths crossed again later, when she tried to get into a little tent that he was at the same time trying to exit. The two of them stopped at the opening and while I could only see the girl’s back (she was much bigger in size) I knew something was wrong when I heard Titus scream. 

When I got to them, the girl had her fingers around Titus’ neck. He was flailing his arms around to knock her off him. 

The protective mum took over and I felt this white hot fury coursed through my body. All I remember doing was grabbing her wrist to stop her from choking Titus and pushing her to the ground.

Later, Awesome Husband said the girl had cried and peeked out from the tent to look at me in fear, and not daring to emerge until her grandma came to get her.

I felt thoroughly horrid. Horrid that I had to use aggression on a young child. Horrid that I felt so much anger and failed to manage my own emotions to deal with an aggressive situation more sensibly. Horrid that I did what I’ve been telling Titus is wrong to do.

It would be easier for all of us to avoid public playgrounds till he’s older and can speak (I believe he pushes and slaps because he is unable to vocalise his feelings and intentions), but then he will never learn social skills.

As for me, I need to learn to be a better mother. As much as I love him and want to protect him from disappointing situations, I must remember that the real world is far more cruel and he just has to learn to deal with unhappiness.

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