I am a mother to a 7 year old boy and I have a friend who has a 2 years toddler. Both my friend and I try our best to use the Conscious and Peaceful Parenting Approach.
Her little daughter is lovely and gets on really well with my boy. The only problem is she is quite "aggressive". I don't know if "aggressive" is the right term because I doubt that she does the things she does out of anger because she usually laughs or smiles after these incidents so I assume she thinks it is just a game/way of exploring. However, there have also been times where she hits out of anger e.g. there was one time she was upset about something to do with her mother (nothing to do with my son) and my son went to give her a hug as a way of giving his moral support but she just slapped him and threw the metal music instrument she had in her hand and in hit my son hard on his head. She slaps my son on his face and also hits him with whatever she finds and it is so bad that my son has got bruises on his arm and legs!
It breaks my heart to see him having these bruises but what I am finding the hardest is the "conscious/peaceful parenting approach" of my friend who "accepts" these outburst. She says that it is a normal development of a toddler and that he isn't doing it out of anger. She literally stands and looks at her daughter while these things take place and says that she just needs to get it out when she is frustrated and so on. I admire her for her patience and how she is parenting peacefully and consciously. I think she is an amazing mum to be able to do this but at the same time it doesn't sit right with me that she accepts the "violence". I have seen how she gets annoyed when her daughter repeatedly slaps her on her face or on her body and she does say to her not to hit her but when it happens to my boy she doesn't say anything.
She also took some of my son's toys, some which are of some sentimental meaning to my son and kept banging them hard against the floor or wall and other times throwing them on the floor or on my son. When I asked my friend how come she is not really doing anything about it, she says that her daughter is only 2 and that is not the age to reason with them and explain things as they wouldn't understand right from wrong and so on and that it is just a normal part of the development when a child is 2. I see her as a good friend and both my son and I really adore her daughter but it really hurts me to see my son being hit like this, especially with bruises.
I can also see the frustration in my son as I try to explain him that she is too small to understand what she is doing and doesn't mean to hurt him. So he keeps this as a reminder but at the same time I can see him getting more and more frustrated as he feels he is being treated unfairly by the little girl who either hits him (without my son having done anything) or throws/bangs his things repeatedly until some of them are finally broken.
He has never done anything back to her but I sense my son's resentment towards her during and after these incidents. I said to my son to just gently hold her hand and say stop when it happens which he did but my friend isn't happy with this as she doesn't want people to touch her child as her daughter doesn't like it so she wants my son to respect that. So my son respected this and stopped holding the girl's hand. She suggested that he could instead just put his hand in front of his face and say stop but as my son told me with tears in his eyes, that method isn't working as she then just ignores the "stop" and carries on hitting. She doesn't hit with just her hands, usually she always have something in her hand which she hits with. The other day it was an umbrella she kept whacking him with.
The mum of this child blames my son such as stating that he should learn to assert and defend himself. She says that I do no service to him if I protect him from such situations endlessly (she says that she does not mean that I should let it happen, but to teach how to assert himself peacefully, respectfully and strongly so a 2 year old won't bully him). My son has tried to distract her and also blocked his face when she hits him but this has not worked as she just keep whacking him with whatever object she has in her hand. This is why I suggested to my son that he should gently hold the girl’s hand and firmly say “NO”/“STOP”. My friend is not happy with this and has told him to stop it as this then violates her daughter’s bodily boundaries and she ended up crying each time he did this. My friend seems to be more focussed on looking into how my son could have handled it better rather than looking into how to stop her child from hitting others. So my question now is 1) How can I support my son with this so he does deal with it in a peaceful way (to me, it was holding the girl’s hand and say stop but the mum obviously doesn't want this) 2) Any strategies on how this 2 years old could be supported to stop hitting my son?
Please help and give me some suggestion on what to do and perhaps some suggestion I could pass on to my friend about how she could support her daughter to stop the beating but of course in a concious and peaceful way.
Thank you for your time and help
Thank you very much to you all for taking time to answer my queries. Your advice has been very helpful and re-assuring. Much appreciated :)
On another note, I use authoritative parenting approach (peaceful/conscious parenting comes under that category) and is NOT permissive parenting and very different from that. Permissive parenting lacks boundaries and direction/guidance. Whereas the approach I am talking about include boundaries, guidance and direction however in a collaborative and respectful manner (not where parents see themselves as the boss). To be honest, it seems like although my friend says she is using the peaceful/conscious parenting approach it looks like a permissive approach as she does not provide any direction or guidance and there are no boundaries either. This is not the case with my self. I had a very strict, authoritarian and violent upbringing myself and value the relationship I have with my child and he is a very respectful person who doesn't do harm to others. He treats people in a respectful manner which is the foundation of the parenting approach I use such as whenever there is a conflict we sit down as a team and come with solutions/options in a collaborative and respectful manner - not any of the "You do as being told because I am the parent, the boss". I am against permissive parenting approach as well as there is no discipline and this is not the type of child I would like to raise. Hope this clarified your question about the different parenting approach.
Concious parenting comes under the authoritative parenting approach but on a level where you are very mindful of a child's EMOTIONAL needs, especially the underlying emotional needs. It also includes a parent being conscious of how her/his own issues are getting triggered during conflicts and be mindful of these in order to not allow these triggers take over the parenting. E.g. when I feel that my son is taking something for granted, my own issues gets triggered such as "Nobody values me". A conscious parent will be aware that it is one's own issue (past) and not the child (here and now). So she would accept that it is her own issues and try to see things from the child's point of view rather than start getting angry/annoyed because of her own issues/triggers. (In summary, a conscious parent would be more mindful of not only her own underlying emotional processes but her child's too)
The reason I had to mention that my friend uses the peaceful/conscious parenting approach is that she is against shouting, spanking and time-out which I totally agree with. However, a conscious/peaceful parent can still guide a child to what is right and wrong without using any of the above mentioned methods. However, she seems to not have the tools for this and very much being permissive as she lets her daughter do whatever she wants without any boundaries.
Once again, thank you very much for your time and help