Here we are again, hanging outside of our children’s gymnastics class while they stretch and tumble in an attempt to find their inner Lauren Mitchell. I think it’s safe to say that we all agree on the inconveniences of waiting for class to end. There’s never enough room for all of the parents. And if you have a toddler who has to wait along with you, the waiting room feels more confined by the minute.
The truth is, I can’t help but notice you and your toddler every week. We’ve never met, but I see you and I see your tot with his cute curls and endless energy. I see you doing your best to keep him occupied while also trying to catch up with friends. I see you setting boundaries and trying not to give in when your little guy wants to buy snacks or a toy in the shop that all the parents have to pass when leaving the place.
I can’t help but notice, however, that you have absolutely no boundaries when it comes to your toddler’s physical attacks on you. Maybe in your mind it’s a phase, or perhaps it’s his disposition, but I can’t help but watch in horror as he pummels you with punches, bites, and hair pulls. It’s not just the one smack or accidental head butt that all mums endure. It’s not just one time, either. It’s every week, time after time, a relentless assault from a kid who appears to be still in preschool. I see the look on your face — part horrified, part hurt, part unfazed.
I’ve learned over my years of parenting that there is no standard or rule that every parent follows or agrees with. So it’s entirely possible that you don’t mind being a human punching bag for your kid. I can tell you this with certainty though: You are not doing yourself, or your toddler, any favours by ignoring his physical attacks. It’s not just about your physical safety. See, by not teaching your child to keep his hands to himself, you are teaching him that it’s okay to hit other people. That means he’s going to hit others, including his peers at school, possibly a teacher, and maybe your most trusted babysitter. And here’s the thing: Nobody will want to be around your son after he hits them in the face the way he just clocked you.
So if you don’t mind being hit, that’s your deal. But other people, especially the children with whom your son will come in contact as he goes to school, the park, and play dates, won’t want to be hit. As parents it’s not just our job to model appropriate behaviour for the way we want to be treated; we are also the model for how our children should interact with the world. And there isn’t a person in the world who would take the barrage of physical pain your child is inflicting upon you.
I’m fairly certain you either don’t know what to do when he hits you or you don’t want to cause a scene so you let it go. Believe me, when it comes to toddlers sometimes a mum has to let things go or have her whole life become a teachable moment. I get it. But there is no bigger scene than that of a child abusing his mum, and her taking it. It’s a terrible thing to watch.
At the very minimum, think of how bad you’ll feel when your son starts to hit other kids the way he hits you. Because deep down inside, you’ll know that by doing nothing to stop it, you taught him that this bad behaviour is okay. It’s not.
A Concerned Mum