Gosh, just when I feel I'm getting to grips with this whole toddler behaviour thing, I have a day like today. The day started really well, I went to the gym at 6.45, had a swim, detoxed in the sauna. Got home, and even got a little bit of snuggle time with my two boys before Aniah woke up. Again, breakfast lulled me into thinking it was just an ordinary day with my two little lovelies. Then we got ready and went to the local soft play centre to meet up with my sister Esther and her toddler Celeste. That's when the over zealous (as polite as I can make it) Aniah kicked in. Within about 10 minutes I was tearing her away from a fellow screaming child who was declaring between sobs that a 'girl scratched me'.
The routine starts... 'Did you hit the little boy Aniah?' Innocent look around. 'Say sorry to the little boy'. Aniah waits a few seconds 'Aniah, say sorry to the little boy'. Said boy is sobbing hysterically. Aniah slowly signs a sorry with her closed fist. 'Good girl, now give him a hug'. Aniah gives her a hug whilst saying 'ahhhh'. Moment of slight relief takes over the feeling of frustration.
I barely sit down and begin the conversation about houses with my sister before I hear another hysterical scream. I look around wildly to locate my daughter. She is in the climbing frame clawing at a little girl's face this time. I quickly rush over and pull her away. Aniah doesn't understand sharing. It's the egocentric stage of her development where the concept of someone else using the same toy/area as her is impossible. This time the girl's parent has come rushing over with a disgusted look at me and Aniah, rushed her child away. I try as calmly as possible to repeat the oft rehearsed phrase 'You need to be kind to other children. You must not hit Aniah'. I take her out of the play area and follow the crying sounds to find the mother cradling her daughter.
'I'm so so sorry. She's going through a bit of a phase at the moment' I say apologetically. 'I need her to say sorry to your daughter' As I ask Aniah repeatedly to say sorry, it is clear that this time she feels the situation does not require an apology and looks at the floor. 'You're going to need to go in time out if you can't say sorry Aniah'. Nothing.
I scoop her up and take her over to the corner of the building where there is the least distraction and plonk her on a little stool. 'You need to stay there for a few minutes'.
I walk away enough to show her she's on her own but close enough that I can pop her back on the stool if she tries to escape.
After a minute she says sorry to me and I tell her she needs to say sorry to the girl. At this point Aniah starts to sob, clearly fed up with the situation (that made two of us). I take her to the girl and her mother. By this point it is clear that Aniah scratched her quite hard as there is a long red mark down her face. I try and get Aniah to say sorry again. No joy, she's crying too much. She just about manages a hug with some coercion.
After a few more attempts by Aniah to defend her chosen playing area, or just simply to grab at another child I decided it was home time.
I found it quite difficult because she hasn't really been grabbing much recently since we started doing the 'gently gently' approach. Essentially, if I could see her going up to Zak to try and interact with him with the intention of grabbing him, I'd get her to stroke his head saying 'ahhh... gently'. Which seemed to work a treat.
When we got home, the fizzy toddler theme continued as I attempted to prepare lunch. Pulling socks off her brother, pulling things from cupboards, tipping the bin over, grabbing the frying pan as I ran to get the phone, drawing on the wall. It actually amazed me how much she managed to achieve in a matter of minutes.
I have a sneaky suspicion she was over tired because after lunch I put her down for a nap and she was a lot calmer after sleeping for a couple of hours. Phiew! It really does amaze me how much she can get up to so quickly. As gutted as I am about Aniah's behavioural turn in the play pit, I need to remember to be consistent with her and look forward to this 'phase' being over.
Aniah is a sweet and caring little girl the majority of the time and I love her so much. I know she's going to be fine, today was just a little bump in the road.