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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Biting and Compassion

Well, our almost-two-year old, sweet Aidan, decided that, since she's almost 2 and full of big emotions and a little overwhelmed by it all, she would take up biting. I thought we might skate through with no biting. I guess not.

Wednesday I picked her up and her teacher told me that she had bitten at least one other child that day. Her teacher attributed it to boredom and feeling frustrated because of that. She got sent to the office for an official time out. Not just an in the room time out, but an in the school office time out. Our little girl, sent to the principle's office already.

So, Christianne and I didn't shame Aidan, but we did talk about "we don't bite" and "no biting." And I talked with Aidan about using her words and going to her teacher and saying "help" (or as Aidan says, "elp!" if she got frustrated.

Today, Christianne picked her up and the teacher said she had good news and bad news. The good news is that Aidan did not bite any other children today. The bad news is that Aidan bit herself twice. Once on each hand during various bouts of frustration with other children.

Clearly, she got the message that biting others is not acceptable. And, her feeling was so big she had to do something with it. (I have to say the psychologist in me who has worked with a lot of people who self-injure died a little even at the thought of Aidan hurting herself in this fairly normal way. I did refrain from dialing my friend who is a play therapist for a panic consultation.)

Tonight, we role played with Aidan things she can do when she's mad her frustrated. We worked on saying "Help!" as loud as she can. We also worked on wiggling her whole body when she has a big feeling she doesn't know what to do with. Christianne and I pretended to be fighting over a toy and when one of us yelled help, the other would stop. Then we pretended to fight with Aidan for the toy and coached her to say "help," at which point the other one would come in a negotiate a compromise. Hopefully it will start to transfer and no one, Aidan included, will be bitten.

While we were playing, Aidan got a little wound up and hit me in the face with a beaded hat. It hurt and I played it up a little to make the point. Aidan apologized and gave me a kiss. But here's the really compassionate, sweet part: Of her own volition, she left the room and went to the kitchen where we keep the Puppy Patch (cold pack for owahs) in the fridge. She came back asking for help, got me up, too me to the kitchen, said "Doggie, owah, help" (or some combination of that) had me open the fridge and get out the puppy patch. I handed it to her and she put it on my owah. It was so sweet. I picked her up and gave her a big hug and told her own proud I was of her for being so thoughtful and sweet. It is really great to see her developing the ability to care about others.

In other news, we are signing Aidan up for a new school. It looks like she could start in the next week or so. Her current school has been great in many ways, but is really going through a transition time and the school is suffering growing pains. In a couple years, things might be different, but Aidan really needs some more challenge and stimulation and we just aren't seeing it happen at her current school. Her new school is strong on structure and focus, but also seemed really loving and when I told them her first sentence was "I don't want that" they responded "We love self-esteem here!" I really hope they will nurture her soul as well as her mind. It feels like such a big decision to make. We both want what is best for Aidan and the known always feels safer than the unknown, but I think it will be a good move. If you want to check out the school, it is here.

Time to do a little cleaning and go to bed. Hopefully, Aidan isn't sleeping under her pillow or without her diaper tonight.

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