Staylistening Ends A History of Grabbing

We had quite a bit of difficulty with one boy at the day care center where I work.  As soon as another child would begin playing with a toy, he would come over and either hit the child or grab the toy away. The other children were afraid of him, and after a short while there, children avoided him. We were responding to children crying frequently because of this child’s interactions. I am taking a class in Parenting by Connection, and I used what I have been learning with him. It worked out so well!

One day, when he had grabbed something from another child, I came to him and said, “I can’t let you do that. I am going to stay with you right now, because you aren’t able to play well with the other children.” I stayed close, and he began to cry. He ran to the cots, threw himself down on one, and cried hard. I went over and stayed close by, and said, “It’s fine if you are crying, I’ll stay right here. But I can’t let you take things away from the other children.”  He had a long cry.  I think it helped him.

A day or so later, though, he did the same thing again, and this time, I said, “I’m going to bring you outside with me, and I’m going to listen to you there.” I carried him outside, sat down, put him on my lap facing me, and said, “I’m going to listen to you. You can tell me whatever you want. Why do you take things from the other children?” He cried and kicked the bench we were sitting on for a long time without saying anything. I kept my arms loosely around him. When he slowed down, I asked again, and he cried some more. I held him and listened. Finally, he told me, “The other children don’t want to play with me. They don’t want to be my friend.” I asked him what else he wanted to tell me, and he cried and told me the same thing again. I kept asking him to tell me what was the matter, until he had finished crying.

When he didn’t have anything else to tell me, I said, “Thank you. I listened to you. I want you to listen to me.” He agreed, and I said, “The other children don’t want to play with you because you take their toys away. You need to wait until they are finished. Then, they’ll want to play with you again.” He listened. We then went back inside.

Since that day, he has been far less grabby with other children. A day or so ago, he came to me, holding hands with another child, looking so happy, saying, “Look, Miss Anne! We are friends! He is my friend!” I’m so pleased with the way things have turned out, and so is he!

–Anne Huynh

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