Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: Secret Life of Toddlers: Bully For You

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Secret Life of Toddlers: Bully For You

Toddlers are a strange breed; their emotions are on a permanently violent swing from one extreme to another. One moment they are creating a caterwaul because upon returning from a pleasurable play in the park, you deigned to open the front door (like you have done a trillion times before) when you should have known that this was the one day they wanted to do it (even if they did not convey this sentiment to you in advance) and the next they appear to be letting a friend's cruel comments wash over them like muddy puddle water on shiny new patent shoes. But what if some of the water starts to seep in unnoticed?

A toddler reaction is never the one you anticipate

You see, my daughter is a four year old whose heart could not be worn more on her sleeve if she were to grow up, go to university and do a combined major in cardiac surgery and fashion design; she feels everything deeply and acutely. This has its merits and its drawbacks. On the positive side, when something good happens, she is elated. Sky high, in fact. She will burn holes in the carpet as she laps the room explaining in a torrent of words exactly why she is quite so delighted with life with the cause ranging anywhere from a prospective playdate in a far flung location with her best friend to an extra chocolate button. However, on the less than positive side, when something happens that can in any way be inferred as a negative event, she will spiral into a world of torment begging forgiveness if she has stepped over a line or pleading for a remedy if it is something beyond her control. So her lack of reaction to her friend’s callous words has got me stumped.

Toddler Fashion
She came home from nursery last week, as happy as the proverbial clam. There was no sign of anything out of the ordinary; her chatter was fast paced, hair wild and unkempt and the handover from the rather weary looking nursery staff was glowing so I was very surprised when two days later she casually dropped into the conversation that her closest friend had been telling her on numerous occasions that she is both fat and has bad breath. I repeat, fat and bad breath. She is four years old. How is this even a thing? Should they not still be slinging insults about being a “poo poo head”, “scaredy cat” and how one sex is infinitely better purely by virtue of not being the other? I knew this was going to happen at some point, I mean teenage girls are cruel. They are vicious; armed with an arsenal of insults that will penetrate, grievously wound leaving permanent scars but pre-schoolers? I was flabbergasted (an underused term but intensely accurate on this occasion.)

Pre-teen toddler
I know that there may be those out there who assume that at their young age they can neither understand nor truly be affected by such jibes; that pre-school friendships are a heady mix of passionate love and loathing interspersed with glitter and mud. I will admit that I thought the same but then I asked her about it. I asked her to tell me exactly what had happened so I could forge a way to help excuse or explain her friend’s behaviour. The tears must have been lurking close to the surface, just waiting for the moment that her guard was dropped and they could be liberated. They poured out. Then they just kept coming.

It would appear that she was not as impervious to the callous comments as I had first believed. It was utterly heart breaking to see her pull at her skin as if it was disgusting and repulsive while tears etched their way down her cheeks but there seemed little I could do to dispel the myth that she was anything less than beautiful. As parents we have worked hard to instil a belief that beauty is far more than facial symmetry and perfect dimensions and is rooted in kindness and joy. We routinely praise her for more than just her cherubic face and winning smile and anytime someone tells her she is beautiful she will happily complete their sentiment with “inside and out!” And yet, all it took was one bored peer whom she reveres to blow her self-esteem to pieces. It was devastating.

Forging her own way
So now I wait. I have taken it to the nursery to deal with as I am making no in roads at home. I hope that having her idol be challenged and, hopefully, reprimanded by a person in authority will show her that her self-worth is not misplaced and she should not let anyone make her think less of herself.

For she is awesome. Fact.

Awesome: case in point

Lucy At Home

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