Friends vs parenting styles

I have officially entered an unfamiliar and tricky realm of parenthood: my 16 month old daughter is going through (what is hopefully) a phase of slapping other kids (and me and her dad) on the head and pulling their hair. 

This has resulted in an unpleasant situation with a friend of mine who reacted very judgementally, despite my apology, when Eva Rose did it to her kids.

I have tried various techniques to nip Eva Rose’s behaviour in the bud.

They include:
  • Looking her in the eyes and telling her firmly, "No, that is not nice; we do not slap/hit/pull hair."
  • Saying, "that makes Mommy very sad." Cue distraught clown face.
  • I even tried, "If you do that again, I will leave you alone in the room."
Neither of these approaches seems to have had any effect. In fact, Eva Rose seems to find them highly amusing.

The truth is that she is too young to apologise or really understand the concept of hurting another child. It is not done with malice or intent to harm but more out of curiosity. Perhaps Eva is also used to hanging around with a boisterous and sometimes aggressive 3-year-old cousin.

Yet, I am trying to manage it as best I can and set boundaries.

The incident has made me realise that my friend and I parent very differently. 

About a month ago, a four-year-old boy bit my daughter so hard on her finger that he drew blood. She screamed for twenty minutes.  But, what was the point of being angry with his parents?

I comforted my daughter and allowed them to discipline their child in the way they saw fit - which was to firmly let him know he was wrong and make him apologise. Of course, I felt awfully sorry for my child, but these things happen.

The world can be a tough place and sometimes kids do hurt each other. In fact, at my Moms & Miracles group at least one child per class pulls another’s hair and makes him/him cry.

You can try and protect and prevent your child experiencing pain by controlling his/her environment to a degree (e.g. baby proofing your home etc.) but there are certain things beyond your control.

Short of shackling your child to your lap 24/7, there will be bumps, falls, scratches, grazes and yes... even pain caused by other children.

Some parents seem loathe allowing their children to experience the world by experimenting and exploring it.

Of course, I would never endanger my child, but I do believe that sometimes the only way for her to find out that the bed has an edge is to fall off it once.

I suppose my friend would say that I am too relaxed, maybe even tough, and in my opinion, she is uptight and mollycoddling. The truth is that on the continuum of parents, we’re a mixed bunch.

For now the only thing to do, as far as I can see, is not to socialise our kids until Eva outgrows this stage. Or maybe we could ask for expert advice?

Think you need expert advice on this subject?
Breaking the hurting habit

What is your parenting style?
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 501 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
82% - 6185 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
11% - 812 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.