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My kid is the "grabby" kid!

So my DS is great and plays great with others in an outdoor environment (parks, zoos etc.) until he is put in an environment with toys and he gets VERY grabby! He takes toys out of kids hands even if he doesn't want them. I have to be helicopter mom on him the entire time because he just grabs or tells them No! This is mine! And it's constant! Other moms have reassured me that this is "normal" however I have seen their kids do it once or DS does is CONSTANTLY! The entire time I feel like I have to hover! Has this happened to anyone else with their child and how did they deal with it? Some things we have already tried are:
1. Taking turns at home (including role playing with puppets)
2. Not letting DS take from us/we don't take from him (asking for something instead)
3. giving time-outs when he does "grab"

NOTHING seems to improve this! Any suggestions?

Answer Question

Asked by Sarahbeth7 at 7:43 AM on Sep. 28, 2012 in General Parenting

Level 15 (2,164 Credits)
Answers (11)
  • One more thing...not sure if this helps, he is just shy of 2 1/2.

    Comment by Sarahbeth7 (original poster) at 7:43 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • I think this is one of those times when you just have to keep reinforcing the proper behavior for as long as it takes. I have friends with kids like that. Kids are all different, and you really can't compare their behavior too closely. Just keep doing what you are doing (consistently). I do think it will get better once he's a little older and you can start to really talk with him about it. I assume you are telling him why it's not good, even something like "That's not polite. It makes Jimmy feel bad when you grab his toy." And maybe give him some other way to deal with the situation like "Say 'May I have that toy?' and wait."

    Answer by Sebbiemama at 7:53 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • It is normal - each kid just does it to varying degrees. Yours is just on the higher end, but it is normal. Just keep doing what you're doingMake sure he understands why he shouldn't do it - whether you say it's not nice, it hurts feelings, whatever. You could also consider extending the time outs you give him, or even giving him a "three strike" rule, and if he snatches three times, you take him home.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:06 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • Oh yes we do that. I am an early childhood major so we're doing empathy training (talking about feelings etc.) so he'll even say after he takes it, oh that made Susie sad or something like it. I was kinda thing it will probably be a time heals thing, and just to continue the behavoir but it's exhausting because at playdates, I can't talk with other moms, I'm just running around watching him until he starts grabbing. I'm also redirecting alot, like "Instead of playing with the truck now, let's choose this toy instead and get a turn on the truck later..etc." Not sure if that's a good idea or not though?

    Comment by Sarahbeth7 (original poster) at 8:08 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • *thinking not thing...haha

    Comment by Sarahbeth7 (original poster) at 8:10 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • Well, it sounds like you are on the right track. Just keep with it. I know it's frustrating. My middle son was the one who could make a preacher cuss! lol :p I also took some early childhood classes & found some of the info in the book was not working. Using the book to swat his behind would've been a more useful way to get something out of it! lol :p (JK- I never hit him w/ the book :p)

    Answer by mrsmom110 at 9:21 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • Haha! Ok thanks so much! It's just tough because he's an angel with other kids but once the toys are out...HA! He's like a hoarder! But I am staying consistent, so hopefully he gets the message at some point! :)

    Comment by Sarahbeth7 (original poster) at 9:37 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • More important than "talking about" feelings is showing empathy to him, so he is experiencing empathy (instead of rejection, withdrawal of parental acceptance & approval) at the times he's acting out distress.
    Behavior is an expression of an internal state. We're always "acting out" our feelings; it's just that there is no problem when the feelings are good & the behavior is delightful, cooperative, flexible!
    Your son's rigidity (demonstrated by the fact that he grabs even when he's not actually interested in the toy, or only is "interested" because someone else has it) expresses that he's upset & overwhelmed. Off-track behavior is a way of signaling for help!
    Right now he's too stressed for you to leave him to play while you chat. But he needs support from you.
    Rather than meeting his problematic behavior with correction/discipline, keep him from violating others AND show clear understanding of & acceptance for the

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:19 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • feelings driving the behavior. At that age, parenting twins, it was VERY helpful to me to focus on how the child just wanted good things. Really, they just want to have fun. This, I could validate, showing my understanding & acceptance. I could take hold of him (this is the physical limit) and prevent the grab or intercede as promptly as possible, while conveying understanding & compassion. "You really want that dump truck. It looks like so much fun to you! You saw Eli playing & you wanted it right now!"
    My twins would bite & I wanted to offer a positive alternative for what TO do when they felt like grabbing/biting/hitting, and I settled on "Ask for help." I taught the sign for help. This was not a matter of them "suddenly" signing or calling HELP, but it was a POSITIVE for me to focus on & reinforce (rather than "don't grab") & it applies. (A 3yo who asks his peer for a turn is "asking for help" instead of taking/hitting.)

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:27 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

  • Since he's been this rigid, it's highly likely that he'll have some big feelings when you intervene with a limit. If you're able to be understanding & compassionate (rather than being embarrassed or insecure about him compared to the other children, worried in a low level way about what other moms are thinking of him & of your parenting, or somewhat rigid yourself because this is stressful!), so he feels understood but also has a clear limit to react to or struggle against, then he probably will feel safe enough to cry & wail. I would predict a meltdown is waiting to happen.

    This is not a "problem" from my point of view. These feelings (stuck inside) are CREATING the problem! Feeling supported to let them out brings relief & flexibility for him.

    The more you push against him with correction & pressure (basically, sending the message he is wrong), the more frustration & sadness he'll carry inside & the more "grabby" he'll be.

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:41 AM on Sep. 28, 2012

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