Toddler Play And Discipline

toddler play and discipline

What type of behavior is considered to be age-appropriate for toddlers in a play setting? Stealing toys from each other? Sure. Yelling gibberish at one another? Totally. Hitting, kicking, biting, or poking. Certainly. BUT, those types of behaviors must come with consequences…and at the very least, an apology!

Now that my son is approaching toddlerhood, I am faced with experiences that test my patience and tolerance-level. These situations take place at the park, in his parent-and-me classes, during play-dates, etc., and typically end up with me biting my tongue, taking a deep breath, and reminding myself that these are toddlers who are doing what toddlers do, and sadly, not all parents give a shit. The latest run-in had me steaming, and I found myself unable to hold my tongue.

Here’s the scenario:

15.5 month-old Bubba is attending his parent-and-me gym class, and when it’s his turn to stand in the circle and introduce himself, he is poked in the face by a gigantic 2 year-old boy. Gigantic Toddler’s mother says nothing to us (um…like, “I’m sorry”) but simply wrangles her hyper bundle of joy, who is now running in circles around other frightened parents and their little ones. What to do? Is there REALLY not going to a conversation between parent, the instructor, and myself?!? Are we REALLY going to continue with class like nothing ever happened? The following week, Gigantic Toddler (he looks 5–no joke!) decides to kick a 10 month-old who’s barely walking. Again, nothing is addressed. Five minutes later, Gigantic Toddler runs past me and slaps me on the shoulder! That’s it.

“Okay, that’s enough!” I say sternly to the child, and then I shift my gaze to the mother.

…a few uncomfortable minutes pass, until free-play, when the mother walks by me and says:

“Relax, he’s a 2 year-old!”

Oh HELL no.

That’s when I completely lose it. It was like an out of body experience, and all I remember is covering the following points:

  • Your child gets physical with other students and parents every week
  • Your child does not listen to the instructor, or participate in class
  • I have been warned about him (and you!) by other parents…so you kind of have a reputation
  • I know he’s an innocent 2 year-old, but you need to control his actions through discipline, otherwise, don’t participate in these type of classes!

Keep in mind, I’m shaking. I’m not a person who enjoys confrontation, and this woman could probably crush me. I am also a bit embarrassed for losing it in the middle of class and in front of my child–that probably doesn’t make me look too good. But the truth is, no one was going to stand up to this lady–and I, for one, do not want to be nervous for my child’s safety during what’s supposed to be FUN and stimulating (and pretty darn expensive!).

The mom never said anything more to me, and I doubt I will see her any time soon, since this was a special winter session, and her kid is in a level above Bubba. I truly believe she is a caring mother–one who enrolls her son in classes and takes time to help him learn and grow. I just wish she handled his behavior problems better. The more annoying thing is, the instructor called me the next day to discuss the incident and apologize for not taking any action. She claimed she had no clue it was going on. I explained my outburst and frustration, and then listened to her basically defend the mom and son citing that he’s a toddler, and his actions are pretty “age appropriate.” Really? I know I’m new at this parenting thing, but since when is physical assault ever appropriate? Should I just allow my son to hit, poke, and kick other kids?

I really hate to come off as a judgemental ass, but come on, people, teach your kids right from wrong! And if they cannot grasp the concept (and you refuse to supervise), or perhaps they have a behavioral disorder, try to involve LO in something a bit more low-key. Otherwise, you will be dealing with Momma Bears like ME.

Okay…rant over. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Feel free to comment 🙂


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