Instead, what Vero got was a veritable slap in the face. In a handwritten note she later posted on a Facebook group for working moms (h/t KFOR.com and Babble), the staff accused the little girl of "playing roughly and aggressively with the other babies" and seemed genuinely shocked when Samantha continued playing while her buddies cried. But that wasn't all, according to the caregivers. "Even [after] our using firm voices to tell her it's not OK to hurt her friends and remove her from area, she is smiling and going right back," they wrote.
Well, of course she is. She's nine months old. Look, I'm only going on what this note says, which may or may not represent the full scope of Samantha's reign of terror. But anyone who has been around this age group knows that biting and hitting aren't just common behaviors, they're also totally developmentally appropriate. Babies aren't working with the fully stocked tool kit we moms and dads are. They have a very limited vocabulary, have next to no self control, and happen to be utterly fascinated with cause and effect ("I wonder what would happen if I knock over my friend's tower of blocks?"). Oftentimes, it's more about curiosity than malice.
Rather than read an article about aggression or talk to an outside expert, the clueless staffers passed the buck to Vero. "Can you help us out by maybe discouraging her to not play roughly w/her friends and her dog," they wrote. And to be fair, reinforcing and modeling good behavior at home is crucial, but it's also up to the daycare workers to address the issue as it happens at their facility. They could draw Samantha away from a heated situation with a distraction, like a different toy or book. They could take the group outside for fresh air and extra space. They could continue saying,"No" when the girl's claws come out or, even better, try to anticipate and defuse a tense situation before it escalates into tears. They could work on a game plan with Vero, instead of making her feel like she's raising the future class bully. More than that, though, they could remember that they're caring for a group of still-developing, still-learning babies who need patience, love and understanding—not a ridiculous note.
Tell us: How do you handle your child's aggressive behavior?
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+
Handling Aggressive Behavior
Image of angry baby courtesy of Shutterstock