A Mother Far from Home

on becoming supermom

what to do when other kids are mean to yours

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Do you have a sweet child? Now, I don’t mean only in the opinion of the grandparents, but does your child have a sweet disposition? do you find that other children take their toys away or bully them during playtimes? Or maybe your kid is a bully himself so when other children are mean towards him you think he has it coming!

I know we can’t protect our children from everything and all children play out various power dynamics during their interactions. It is perfectly normal. I completely agree that it is not wise to shelter your children and prevent them from learning how to deal with their own problems. I’m not referring to minor toy swapping and innocent quarrels by children who generally play well together. I’m talking about you observing what amounts to baby/toddler/child bullying.

What do you do when other children are being mean and disrespectful to your child in your presence? can you do anything? Do you just leave them to sort it out and fend for themselves? Well, you may. but this supermom sure wouldn’t.

First, here’s what I’d do if my children were being rude to guests in our house (note, application would vary depending on your child’s age):

  1. After the first toy snatching or other bullying instance my child committed i would very firmly say “no, they are our guests and we will {share our toys} with them. give them back the toy they were playing with.” in fact, before their guests ever came over i would have already explained that they will need to share their toys and be kind to their guests, and that it is a privilege to have people come play. a privilege that will not be often repeated if they do not play nice.
  2. I’d back off and give my child a chance to make their own choice about the matter. if they heeded my advice I’d let it go.
  3. If toy snatcher {insert bullying behavior here} the sequel occurred I’d go to my child, take the stolen goods and again say “no, we do not treat our guests this way in our house. I want you to give the toy back and apologize now”
  4. again, I’d step back and let them think I’m not watching so they would feel free to share as though it were their own decision. babywise calls this surrendering with dignity.
  5. if it happened again i would personally take the toy, give it back, firmly tap their hand and explain they have now lost a privilege for that afternoon/evening. i’d explain that it is a natural consequence of their choice. they had a choice to act kindly to their guest and they chose not to so now they have to live with the consequence. that is usually enough to get most disciplined children turned around.

what do you do when other children are mean to yours in your presence, and potentially the presence of the other parents? well, that depends on the context. if they are at your house and you are the only governing adult, I’d handle it similar to how i’d treat my children except I wouldn’t tap or swat hands nor take away a privilege. however, i would not permit persistent bad behavior toward my child or any other child present.

if I was at the house of a friend and their children were bullying my child I  hope that I would do the following (although I cannot guarantee it because I am a hot-headed over-protective mama bear).

  1. Breathe deep and try to let it play out as long as I can. my blood boils when someone pushes my sweet daughter around. I cannot stand a bully, even one that barely reaches my knees. inside i go all mama bear and must guard my facial expressions moment by moment so the other parent doesn’t see me giving their child a “touch my baby girl again and I’ll cram your tutu in the garbage disposal” look.
  2. Forgive. that may sound stupid but if you are anything like me (life is probably easier for you if you are not) then you can develop negative feelings towards these little bullies as well as their parents who have seemingly raised an undisciplined playroom tyrant. I try to repeat the mantra “it’s not the child’s fault” knowing well disciplined kids don’t bully others because their parents simply don’t allow it.
  3. I would politely ask the adults if they’d mind giving my child some toys theirs are currently uninterested in so we can continue our conversation in peace. basically I’d say, without saying it, “your child is a brat and you need to sort her out.”
  4. When all of the above is done and the bullying is still going on, I would tell my child to come near me. I’d give them something of mine to play with and remark (in a non catty way, totally opposite of what I would be feeling inside) “if they don’t want to share it’s okay, it is their house and their toys. you can play with this until we go home.”

As parents we must walk a line between training our children and letting them be free to figure things out on their own. A math teacher explains a concept, does problems on the board, assigns homework for practice, and then tests them to see what they’ve learned. parenting is similar. we teach and train our children in the way they should go. We help them as they are very young and guide them in the right behavior and then we let them go. Here we find out how they cope, and when they make bad choices we teach them about consequences. We can’t solve all their problems nor should we. Part of being a parent is helping our children to stand on their own two feet. However, watching my child get bullied right in front of me because another parent (present or not) is too lazy to make their child mind, is just not in my nature to do.

PS – Click here to read other interesting articles on parenting advice and wisdom!

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Author: A Mother Far from Home

Around here we look at practical child-rearing and child-bearing issues. Look around and find down-to-earth parenting talk, tips, reviews, and some interesting lessons I've learned while navigating the waters of motherhood.

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