Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Enid Blyton Land

The “terrible twos” as they are known are OK.

By that I don’t mean they are enjoyable – nobody likes having to deal with a tantrumming youngster – but they are acceptable because (and do correct me if I’m wrong) they are age appropriate. They are part of the development process that we all (at some point in our lives) have to go through, where we learn how to handle disappointment and frustration and to hear the “no” word without throwing our dummies out of the pram.

Tantrums are part of a learning curve.

Tom, my little ‘un, has them. Not many. Not daily. But a couple of times a week and more if he’s feeling grotty. We can all sympathize with that surely?

The nursery who look after him during the day – and it’s a great nursery, really wonderful in so many ways – have notified us that they are assigning the equivalent of a case worker to Tom to try and get his tantrums sorted out. Because apparently they feel it is not normal for him to be tantrumming. The intimations are that none of the other kids are doing it or have ever done it in the entire history of the nursery.

Rubbish is my answer to that.

Tom is only 2. He’ll be 3 in October. Like all kids he has issues and personal foibles. For me his tantrums aren’t a problem. If he throws one at home he gets put into the kitchen and left alone. I guarantee he’ll cry for 10 minutes, come and seek comfort (which he is given) and then is instantly calm and accepts the decision that caused the tantrum in the first place. All done and dusted. Sorted. Best of all the tantrums are getting shorter. He’s learning.

For the nursery to suggest that Tom having a tantrum in the first place is somehow not normal just enrages me. It is not normal for a 30 year old to have a tantrum! For a 2 year old it is, believe me, normal. Terrible Twos, right? It’s quite common. It’s part of the developmental yadda yadda yadda. Already said that.

I sometimes think that Tom’s nursery is living in some kind of parallel universe that is loosely based around the novels of Enid Blyton. A world where the kids are all polite, well spoken, silent unless spoken to and outwardly inquisitive but only in an adult and responsible manner. In this strangely quiet land the kids don’t argue or have tantrums. They respectfully enquire if their fellow citizens wouldn’t mind them having their own way for once but only if it won’t cause too much consternation or disapprobation among their fellow peers. All kids are born with an innate ability to manage their anger and emotions in such a way that counsellors all over this land are rendered surplus to requirements. Crime is at an all time low but then so is creativity and individuality and the global birth rate.


What an awfully sterile place it must be.

To conclude then, do we here in the west try and impose an inaccurate and unnatural and horribly rose-tinted view of childhood onto the very people who are living it – our children? Do we let the pursuit of some nice, idyllic, blanket wrapped ideal impose a framework on our kids which is not only a downright lie but also stifling and unfair and, worst of all, denying them the right to be normal, feeling, reacting human beings?

Or am I just spitting the dummy out of the pram?


Not From Lapland said...

FFS! I'd be having an unnatural 30 year old tantrum if I were in your shoes. If he was 8 or 9 and having them daily then perhaps I could understand it, but at 2? He's only a baby, what is wrong with these people?

Ooooh, I'm spitting feathers for you.

My 4 year old still has a couple a week when she's tired and i don't think there's anything unusual in that. It's merely a way of expressing anger and frustration that she doesn't have the vocabulary or maturity to express any other way.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

Hmmm I can't believe for a single second that Tom is the only child to have tantrums at nursery. As you rightly say, they are part and parcel of the development of any toddler. Nurseries should be able to handle tantrums without having to bring in experts or make the parents feel like their child is some kind of social misfit.

Steve said...

Heather: "It's merely a way of expressing anger and frustration that she doesn't have the vocabulary or maturity to express any other way" - eg-sodding-zactly! I'd be more concerned if he wasn't have any tantrums at all, fearing he'd be saving them all up for later in life!

Very Bored in Catalunya: I have to say this isn't the first time the nursery have suggested something like this. Months and months ago when Tom was going through a biting stage they suggested it was a problem they'd not really encountered before! WTF? I know of loads of kids who go through biting and pinching stages - my sisters also did it when we were kids and I daresay I did too!

lunarossa said...

This is absolutely ridiculous! Are we going back to the ancient motto "kids should be seen but not heard"? This typical of the so called "experts" in this country who waste their time dealing with tantrums and bitings of two years olds and fail (or want to fail) to spot the REAL problem children who need REAL help. Give a big kiss to Tom from me. Ciao. A.

Steve said...

Lunarossa: I just find it nonsensical that the nursery claim his behaviour is not normal! You'd think given all the 2 year olds that have been under their roof for the last 5 or 6 or whatever years they'd have encountered the occasional tantrum or 2!

The Accidental Author said...

Steve, as everyone else has said, tantrums at his age are completely normal and, more to the point, acceptable.

You only need to look at French children, who do grow up in a 'seen but not heard' environment to see that it's wrong. Very wrong. While they might say 'bonjour' to all and sundry, they also seem to, for the most part, lack any sort of creativity or individualism.

I'd put the nursery on the naughty step if I were you!

AGuidingLife said...

You'll probably find out that lots of the kids at Nursery go through this but they can't tell you becuase of Data Protection! I have a 45 record of Enid Blyton (yes the real one) singing "I'm a naughty little Noddy and I don't like anybody STAMP STAMP STAMP" So even Noddy threw tantrums. My hubby throws 1 or 2 a week - can he share your son's case worker please?!!!!!!!!!! Hang on in there Steve - it's a moment of madness that will pass (the nursery's madness not your sons - your son's tantrums will no doubt continue for years yet and it is perfectly normal!!!)

Anonymous said...

Do you know what angers me about this situation? The fact that those professionals of which the nursery staff feel should be concentrating on your 2 year old would be far better used for the children that actually do need help and of course my thoughts move to those with autism, like my own child. You see, funding is tight, professional staff are being laid off and children like Amy who need support aren't getting it because the funding is being spread amongst the wrong organisations, for the wrong reasons.

Now that, really angers me. Too many children are being labelled these days because it is often easier to say a child has issues than to say the parent does. Only those children who do actually have issues have parents fighting tooth and nail to get the help they need.

I'm hoping the nursery either get their act together, change their staff, or decide to close down because they are in danger of making a mockery of a system that is very much in need.

CJ xx

Misssy M said...

This is a little bit OTT. Fair enough give the kid a case worker if he was repeatedly involved in violent crime, took a machete with him in his lunchbox, or was running an illegal gambling cartel in the wet area.

My son, who is Mr Calmness incarnate used to tantrum around that age- particularly about getting out of the bath. I was the same as you. Put him in his room and let him cry it out away from you.

They are not living in the real world.

Steve said...

Previously (Very) Lost in France: well that's me totally sold; heaven help us if we turn out like the French! ;-)

Kelloggsville: good point; the more I think of it the more I realize that actually Noddy was a little hooligan who did his fair of porridge in the police cells. Maybe Enid Blyton wasn't so bad after all...

CJ: I do think that sometimes the nursery (and I keep saying this: it is a good one and on the whole we are very happy with it) do sometimes use a piledriver to crack a nut. I daresay they are being driven by the weight of various streamers of red tape and bureaucratic balderdash... but that doesn't make it right or at all efficacious.

London City (mum) said...

I still throw tantrums. OH threatens me with the naughty corner every time, or makes me have a glass of wine.

Not sure Tom could have the latter. Yet.

Oh, and the 'terrible twos' actually start around 18 months and last until the age of four. At least. Or older, in my case.

Best forewarned!


p.s. would also suggest a spy camera in the nursery - situation sounds a tad absurd to me

Steve said...

Misssy M: funny you should mention the machete... I didn't think that had made the nationals... oh well! To be serious, most of Tom's problems stem from an unwillingness to share - but this is also not unusual and we are in the process of "retraining" his thinking. Until we're done I think it's perfectly acceptable for him to express him unhappiness with the odd shout and wail - provided he isn't pummelling 7 bells out of some kid of course.

LCM: to be honest I had a foul temper as a child and I'm sure I didn't get it under control until I was well established in infant school. Unless Tom is expected to be the next Buddha I'm not sure why they want expect him to be so unnaturally pacific all the time. Except, of course, it will make him a lot easier to manage along with all of the other kids.

the fly in the web said...

Pity help children is they have to have every normal reaction suppressed from the age of 2!

Better play them Joyce Grenfell's monologue...whose title I forget but it includes the line, spoken more in sorrow than in anger,
'George! We never bite our friends.'

Of course we don't.
We bite our enemies until we discover that we can hurt them more with words.
Known as normal development.

What a worry for you, though.
Can't you change nurseries or is that cloud cuckoo land?

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Don't throw your toys out the pram now Steve.

The furious forties are not a pretty sight!

So he serves a couple of days in Toddler Borstal? Big deal.

But hey, if I wasn't allowed any tantrum throwing as a child, I don't see why I should indulge anyone else being indulged.

And FYI, Enid Blyton wasn't that goody two-shoes. Have you never heard of the corrupting exploits of 'Binkle and Flip' bunny? My heroes! Lx

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous, aboslutely normal, my kids still spit the dummy from time to time, what are they thinking.
I ahve a friend who has a 3 year old, is nursery called in the case worker because, get this, he's 'too shy'. In new situations or with new people he hides behind his mother, so they recommend he goes to speacial 'shy' school. Last year they said he didn't talk enough, he needed speech therapy, she didn't believe a word of it and now he never shuts up.
why can't they just leave them to be who they are, why are expectations of our little ones so damn high.??


Considering I have done a masters in autism and I have a 9 year old who is profoundly autistic,this means BEHAVIOR-MODIFICATION-IS-ME, my question has to be WHAT THE F*CK ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT?
Ask them to tell you what model of BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION they are using and who will be employing these techniques.Also find out the level of qualification and experience this individual has and ask will all members of staff be using these techniques in regard to your son.If so,will all members of staff be briefed and regularly up-dated.
As for the case worker, every child in a nursery environment is mean to have their own case worker ANYWAY!
They are responsible for overlooking the childs care and also daily he is meant to be assigned to an individual care worker.
Also asks them if they believe that your child needs an evaluation by a psychologist as they appear to be suggesting his behaviour is not that of a normally developing child.
Then make an appointment with your own doctor, that is where my daughter was first evaluated and seen.Explain the situation to the doctor who I think will ressure you that your son has no significant issues.If that is the case, then return to the nursery and tell that NORMAL behavioural interventions are all that are required.
Which is a polite way of telling them to BACK OFF.
It sounds like you are doing a brilliant job as a parent.
Oh that all parents were so caring and interested in the welfare of their child.

Being Me said...

Oh Mother of Many has written such a brilliant comment, I can't follow it up surely...

But I will say, this does sound like some bizarre knee-jerk reaction of some sort (and I say 'bizarre' because it seems so very very out of place). I have no idea how it's done over in the UK, but here in the govt centres, there is a proper staff:child ratio requirement and the staff must have the appropriate qualifications to that ratio of children. Children with special needs have their own specialist carer in whatever field the child requires the one-to-one assistance with - and your child is surely not in that special needs category, otherwise... they all should be!! he sounds bang on normal to me... possibly above average, even, in the way he is learning through his tanties and realising the cause-effect of shortening them, no less, good boy.

No, this sounds like some over-reaction? miscommunication? bureaucratic bungle? someone who has no clue what 'normal' is? a young person??? or possibly even all of the above.

How ludicrous. Ask for more information and proof perhaps? I'll bet if you question it, it will fizzle into nothing.

French Fancy... said...

What sort of world are these nursery workers living in? Having tantrums is normal childhood behaviour, isn't it? It's not only young children who have them btw - lately I've met a few old people who also have them. Yes - it can happen again when one is about 90. I'm so going to relish being the stamper of little frail feet when I am in my dotage.

Steve said...

Thank you all for your wonderfully supportive comments. Though I must confess my wife has pointed out that I've been a typical man and not actually listened properly to what the nursery said. Apparently Tom has not been assigned a case worker but a PPI (I may even have the acronym wrong) - basically they are going to monitor his behaviour and liaise with us on how to manage and educate it to make sure we are all signing from the same hymn sheet.

Seems I did spit the dummy out of the pram after all but I still maintain that tantrums at 2 years of age are normal and Karen and I both feel the nursery has over-reacted just a little bit.

Apologies to all those among you who I have galvanized into e-warfare. But your responses have been lovely and much appreciated in the middle of what has been a pretty shit week. x

French Fancy... said...

Boo to shit weeks - and I've had a literal one (grin - aged bums and all that)

TMI or what!

Steve said...

FF: I recall OAP tantrums from my days working in a nursing home too. Many's the time I have seen beakers of luke warm tea thrown across the day room or nurse's arms pinched by fingers that still have a surprising amount of strength in them despite the ravages of arthritis! I also recall all the shitty carpets I used to have to vax. Happily though, that kind of shit never gets taken home with you (provided you wipe your feet properly on the way out, of course).

Suburbia said...

Bloody nursery's! They used to be places to play, now it's just like school with targets and a curriculum, I'd tantrum if it was me, in fact aaaaaaaaaaagggggg...

Wanderlust said...

Steve, I'm arriving a little late to the conversation but I will say that my children are both a bit older and both well-behaved relative to their peers (IMHO) and yet, in school or sometimes other care situations, now and then the carers/teachers will report to me about behavior issues and it always makes me feel like my child is somehow being singled out and doing things that no other child has done. I think the reality is that ALL parents get these discussions. It's probably standard procedure for how some very typical and age-appropriate behavior issues are managed. Perhaps a way of communicating their strategies to the parent and getting us on board? Just a thought.

I know I'm very sensitive to any perceived criticism about my kids and things said years ago still stay with me. It's just how we're built. That's not to say the nursery didn't over-react in your situation. Just sharing my own experience.

Steve said...

Suburbia: too right. Sometimes it feels like a child's emotional development is being benchmarked by some spreadsheet on an executive's desk somewhere...

Wanderlust: I agree; that's the most sensible way of looking at it and I've calmed down considerably since first writing this post. It's amazing how quickly we flare up on our children's behalf though... I used to be such a mild mannered little thing!

The Sagittarian said...

Ya gotta roll with the punches, Terrific Two's I called them to get through!

Steve said...

Amanda: and that is probably the best way to approach the whole period!

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

I'm heading over to your day care to have a 36 year old tantrum immediately. They are lunatics if they think that 2 year old tantrums are odd. And I hate the way western society treats children in general. As if they should be quiet and serene at all times.

It's really those unrealistic expectations and the dirty looks of annoying people in public places that makes parenting young children so hard. I woud be much happier about taking my toddlers to the grocery store, PO, etc. with me if I didn't think I was going to spend the whole time shushing them and receiving horrid looks and nasty comments from passersby.

Yeah, and FYI my 6 year old is now having occasional tantrums since he started full time school. I think he's over tired. But even if he's 6, I still think it's normal.

Steve said...

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip: I do think kids have bad days just like us adults. Tom is more prone to tantrums when he is (as you have pointed out) tired or under the weather... his patience wears thin and he's more prone to pop. Just like his old man, in fact, and I'm 41!