Friday, August 26, 2011

Elle is not great at sharing. Yet. I believe this is typical for just-over-one-year-old toddlers.

Apparently this week at the sitter's, the sitter gave another little girl a cracker. Elle leaned over, smacked the little girl's hand, said "No," and took her cracker.

"Where did she learn that?" the sitter asked me.


Well, she learned that from me. Except for the stealing the cracker part.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. (Gratuitous Princess Bride references always welcome in my house.)

Elle has a tendency to hit at my face-- not hard, but more flail-y kind of hitting. 99% of the time I take her hand, enfold it in mine, and say sternly "No. We do not hit Mama. We are nice." And then I take her hand and demonstrate "nice" face touching. Which she thinks is hilarious. I have no idea if she's actually learning anything from this, but it's how I respond almost every time.

A couple of times, though, I have tapped my fingers firmly on the back of her hand, said the same thing, and shook my head. It is not by any stretch of the imagination hitting her, but it is physical contact.

But she has clearly retained what happened and is duplicating it in her own social interactions. Something that has happened to her only a very few times-- and she's doing it herself. There are probably a zillion other things that have happened to her, and she's not duplicating them; this clearly made an impression on her.

I do not plan on using any kind of corporal punishment. (I am pretty sure, however, that I'll slip up and there will be the occasional swat on the butt.) No face slapping, no spanking, etc. It's not what I want to teach Elle. I was spanked and turned out fine, but those memories are not ones I want to duplicate with my daughter. I think every family needs to make their own choices, but I just don't think corporal punishment is necessary for mine.

It would be a stretch to say that Elle's memory of a back-of-the-hand tap is damaging or unpleasant for her, but again, it clearly made an impression. These little things that we don't even think about are soaking into children's brains and coming out in what they say, do, and think.

We are their role models, for better or for worse. Getting that lesson this early is sobering and (to be honest) scary.

She learned that from me. May the next time I see that happen, it be something better and more positive.

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