Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Problem child

So brace yourself for some Nain honesty.....

I often struggle with the whole "am I doing this right?" thing as a parent.  I have my days where I really think I'm not.  Lately it has become a serious question.  

Aubrey has been acting out at daycare.  Honestly she has done this for well...awhile now.  I think I can pin point it to pretty much the time they fired her teacher and had no permanent replacement for months.  The classroom was out of control, incident reports on a daily basis both her as the aggressor and the "victim" or whatever you'd call it.  They hired someone and it seemed to be better but Aubrey still would act out, especially at nap time.  She'd scream, kick at whomever would try to put her down.  It was awful.  This has been going on for some time now.  Some days she'd nap. Others she wouldn't.  I know I wrote around December about how I thought things were related to me and issues I was having, struggles with my depression and maybe she was picking things up at home.  So I fixed that behavior, and things seemed to be better.  Then I switched jobs and worried she wouldn't adjust.  But she totally did.

But apparently she was still acting out, hitting and pushing other kids and still the huge problems at nap.  They put her, at the age of 23 months, on an "action" behavior improvement plan.  T and I worked hard with the staff to fix things, and I thought things were getting better but it started a couple weeks ago when the phone calls from the daycare resumed.  One Friday afternoon I get a call from the center director saying Aubrey would not lay down, scratched her teacher in the eye, and was saying how out of control things were and this needed to get under control at home.  (Funny, this behavior didn't really happen at home), so I quickly left work, talked solutions with the director and we went home.

The director said it was a power struggle.  Aubrey was trying to get her way, trying to "win."  I can see that with how stubborn her parents are.  Honestly I can see that.  So we started making more rules and restricting her, not giving into her as much and it was somewhat working, but she was still acting up at school.  But see, the teachers were not always being 100% honest about it.  They'd gloss over her hitting someone or whatever.  We had a behavior journal we passed back and forth and they would write down every single incident that happened.  So we knew what was going on, but they would make the incidents seem small so we didn't think it was anything beyond 2 year old behavior.  The teachers even said as much.  But all we heard from the director was how this is a problem, we need to fix it, and if we don't she'll develop issues like high blood pressure, drugs....and she recommended we make HUGE deals when she acts out, talk about it in front of her in front of other people, and make her feel really badly about it.

However, after that phone call, I struggled.  I think I beat myself up the entire ride down there about how we were failing as parents, how we had the problem child and couldn't control her.  The way we were being talked to you'd think Aubrey was hands down the worst kid at that center.  Seriously.  So I started calling in daily to check on her.  I was worrying constantly at work.  It just wasn't healthy.

Last Friday T goes to pick Aubrey up and both he and Aubrey get called into the director's office where the director discusses issues at nap time that day (which by the way the teacher said the day was pretty good for the most part).  Patronizing, talking to Aubrey about how bad she was during nap.  This Monday Aubrey was even - get this - brought to the director's office herself and talked to because of a tantrum (fit) she threw at nap.  Can you imagine a 2 year old being brought into the Principal's office?  How do you even reason with a 2 year old?

Today I get a call from T that after 20 minutes of being there she was being sent home after hitting the teacher twice and throwing a toy at a friend's head while the parent was there.  Yeah....not good.  Not good at all.  So T got her, and I went home as well because we needed to figure this out.  The decision was kind of made for us as she has now been put on a stricter action plan at school.  Any incident of hitting or aggression and T gets called and has to take her home.  

So we have put her in a new daycare, something we have been thinking about doing since this all began, but we did not want to move her around.  She seemed to like it there.  She had friends and she liked the staff.  But something was off.  There was some reason why she was acting out there.  I should have listened to my gut back before it got out of hand, but now I just feel awful, like I let down my kid.  Maybe she was trying to tell us something?  She is too young to be verbal so it is not like she can say what she is feeling.  Her own pediatrician suggested it to us awhile back after we took her in with the first action plan.  She refused to look at the plan because she thought the whole thing was way too much for a 2 year old.  I should have listened.

She starts a new daycare on Monday.  We gave our notice and the director said that the action plan is still in place, that if she does any aggressive behavior she has to go home.  Um....yeah, that isn't going to happen.  We're lucky we were able to get off today, let alone two more days.  Deal with her for just two more days, people, just two more days.  

The thing is, she was just fine today.  Just fine.  We punished her with "no TV" for the entire day, which has become a very effective punishment.  She wasn't happy.  But no fits, no hitting, she played on her own, and really she had a good day.  

I don't know.  I can't put my finger on it but something just doesn't seem right.  And it has to do with my kid, and that is absolutely killing me.


  1. It's hard when you can't be there watching to see what's going on and I can totally understand not wanting to deal with moving her to another place. I'm just going to float this out there... do they keep a log of what she eats/drinks? Laurie's niece acted a lot like this until they cut all red dye out of her diet. Maybe there's something she gets at school that she don't at home. Don't beat yourself up. Being a good mom doesnt not involve being a PERFECT mom. You learn as you go.

  2. Children, like adults, have phases. They aren't always good ones. You do your best, but trust me, even if everything you do is dead-on right, she is still going to go through these phases. The director needs to go back to school (if she ever did) for child development. Public shaming is NOT ever the right thing to do. If a child does something in public, you stop it but never, ever shame them. I cannot say it enough, public shaming is not good. It is only momentarily effective, but the long-term impact is so much worse than the current behavior.

    When I talk about public shaming, I am not talking about stopping them or even scolding them when they throw something while out in public. I’m not even saying don’t make her apologize to someone, what I am saying is, anything beyond that is wrong on so many levels.

    Put on your best lawyer and let that director know that she is the reason your daughter is acting out because she does not do it at home. At least not to the extent they are reporting. Remind her that you are indeed a lawyer in good standing in the state. Put the fear of God in that woman

    Oh, Lord Alaina, I am so mad that the director laid this massive guilt on you. I am also furious that she would suggest public shaming and that she calls a 2 year old to her office!! I sat on the board of 2 different pre-schools. (My daughter attended both). I'd have called for her head!!

    You are a good mother. As CW said, good does not mean perfect (that does NOT exist). You are clearly doing your best and your daughter will know that!



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