We all know how difficult it is as parents to toddlers, who are prone to act and behave in ways we’d sometimes prefer they didn’t, but we accept and understand they are growing, learning and at an innocent age that needs nurturing and guiding.
As a father to two year-old twin boys, not a day goes by where I don’t see them getting a bit heavy handed, snatching, not sharing and all the rest… but also, not a day goes by where I don’t challenge this behaviour and use these moments to teach them about acceptable behaviour. I’m pretty sure I’m talking to a brick wall most of the time, but repetition is the word when managing toddlers!
Now dealing with my kids negative behaviour towards each other is one thing but when they act in the ways described above towards other people’s children it throws up a whole new set of feelings for me as the parent… mortified is a good way to describe it I think. If one of my boys hit or snatched from another child in front of me I would not hesitate in intervening and correcting that behaviour and ensuring the other child is ok and whether its needed or not I think I would also offer an apology to the child’s parent to reassure them that I am dealing with it the best I can.
Is that too much to expect from other parents? What I really want to know is; When is it acceptable to intervene and challenge other peoples’ children when they are hitting, snatching etc towards your child?
Let me share with you why I ask this question…
I was in our local playground with the boys this week and Haribo, in his excitement squealed and ran straight over to the ladder for the slide. A little girl, bigger than the boys so I’m guessing about 4 years old, was on the ladder and immediately gave Haribo the death stare and shouted ‘no’ at him. Her mother (I’m making that assumption that she was) was stood talking, but clearly watching just a little way from me.
I took Haribo’s hand and talked to him about just waiting a minute to let the little girl take her turn, although to be fair to him he hadn’t actually even started to climb the ladder. I stepped back and he was quite happy waiting at the bottom and was excitedly shouting ‘daddy, I do it’. The little girl, who I’ve now named ‘Regina’ (#meangirlsreference), then climbed down the steps and proper shoved him shouting ‘no’ again. I looked at her mum, who had 100% seen it, and she chose not to act so I went back over and said calmly and in a non-aggressive manner, ‘please don’t push that’s not very nice’.
The girl started balling, like I’d just shot the Easter Bunny or something equally evil… I’m guessing she wasn’t used to being challenged? Her mum came over to comfort her (in dramatic fashion) and just eyeballed me. Obviously this really ‘boiled my blood’ but I just continued to look after Haribo and ignore it.
A few minutes later and mum has returned to her conversation and her and the friend both shooting me evils across the playground. I can’t tell you how many deep breathes I had to take… shows how much being a parent has chilled me out, as a younger, more hot-headed Phil would undoubtedly have been unable to resist the urge to say something to her.
I came away from this incident feeling really crap… had I acted inappropriately? I didn’t think so? I hadn’t shouted or been mean, I hadn’t even considered giving her a sharp back-hand (LIES… I totally had). I also felt really p’d off actually that her mum had left me in that situation and then felt the need to glare at me rather than address her issue with me if she disagreed with my actions.
So, coming back to my question… When (if at all) is it acceptable/appropriate to challenge another child’s behaviour and to what level?
I totally understand that we don’t always know what is going on in that family, i.e. learning disabilities, trauma etc. Parents do have to adapt their disciplinary styles to suit their family and we might not all agree with how we all do it, but my problem in this situation was a total failure by this parent/responsible adult to even acknowledge the aggressive behaviour their child displayed to another.
I’m going to stand by my actions this week and say that I would totally do it again and should it be your child that I have to do it to, well then, shame on you! 🤣
If it were the other way around and I had not dealt with my kid’s negative behaviour towards your own, then I hear by give you permission to challenge away… but shout, scream or smack them and be ready to face the wrath of an angry scouser!
It’s such a sensitive subject so I’d really love to hear other people’s thoughts on this, so get commenting… you have to have an opinion on this one for sure!
Whether it’s other people’s children or your own, managing behaviour is tough. Check out how fellow blogger Rachel from Kids Cuddles and Muddy Puddles got on.