Posted by: Paul | February 1, 2011

Conversations With A Two-Year-Old: Angry

Serious one today, for once.

I was giving Adam his evening bath as usual. When we had finished, we went into his room to get him dried off and changed into his pyjamas, when completely unprompted, he said:

“I was angry at nursery.”

He’s never said anything like this to me before. I paused.

“…Angry? What were you angry about?”

“Talulah and Tarquin* shouted at me, and they were laughing at me.”

“Why were they laughing at you?”

“Because I was being cross with them.”

“Why were you being cross with them?”

“Because they shouted at me.”

OK. Not wanting to go round in circles I resolved to leave it there, as he seemed a bit upset by it. On checking with the nurses this morning, it seems there were some tears yesterday but nothing out of the ordinary, just squabbles over toys. They would check with the previous day’s staff and keep a close eye on things though.

It raises the question of how much can you read into what a toddler is telling you? Obviously something happened here, but without being there I only have what his limited vocabulary and understanding of the world can convey to me. These were children he’d never spoken about to me before. Is it even possible for a two/three year old to laugh maliciously at another? Or was he the instigator of events, even?

It was slightly alarming, anyway, and gives you an idea of how you might cope with events later on in life – things like dealing with bullying and so on. What do you say to one so young to explain the behaviour of other children, and to help them deal with it? I just said to him that he mustn’t shout at other children even if they shout at him, he must go and tell a grown up what happened, and go and play with someone else.

* Not their real names. Obviously.

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