Sorry, I know that’s really harsh. But I really needed to get your attention, like RIGHT NOW, before it’s too late. I also know that you are trying, really and truly trying, to do everything right. You’re following all that super awesome advice from the psychologists and parenting gurus, you read all the parenting articles about treating your child with respect and compassion and, blah blah blah.
Well, now I’m going to tell you what you’ve been missing. In an epic fashion. My well intended Mommies (and some Daddies) you’ve been so wonderfully terribly busy being proud and preening smugly at how ‘assertive’ and ‘social’ your little darling is, all while patting yourself on the back as you loudly ‘discuss’ with your two year old- who is in the process of bulldozing and swiping toys from another child- how ‘it’s not nice to take your little friend’s toy’ and suggesting oh-so-patiently & calmly that ‘maybe you and so-and-so can share the toy’ because ‘wouldn’t that be so much nicer’. And all the while, as you carry on this intellectually one sided conversation, your kid is STILL sucking up all of that other kid’s oxygen, encroaching his/her personal space, and infringing on her/his basic right to play without being mauled by your angel).
Therein lies the crux of my problem with you, Certain Parents of Small Children. Don’t get me wrong, I love that you are (albeit misguidedly) trying to teach your child to be reasonable and considerate little problem solving social pros. Every moment is a teaching/learning opportunity that you should be taking advantage of. Yes, yes, yes, and of course. But, in a case such as the above example- of which I witnessed today and set me off like a rocket- your lesson would be better absorbed by your child by executing in the following manner:
1)Your kid (kid A) beelines for kid B, plows over him, takes his toy and begins playing, despite wails and hysterics from child B.
*This is normal two year old behavior, which, alone, does not make your child an asshole. It actually makes you an asshole, if you don’t IMMEDIATELY correct that shit. If you do not immediately correct that shit? Well, hence: then your kid is an asshole.
2) You (mom or dad or grandma or nanny/babysitter, etc) stop whatever it is you’re doing (checking FB, talking to you BFF about the gym or work, whatever, don’t care, not judging) stand up. Walk over to your child. PICK THEM UP. Remove them from that other child’s space as you return the stolen toy & apologize. I don’t care that your kid will scream. I don’t care that you’ll be embarrassed. I don’t care what you think or how you feel in that moment, and neither does anyone else in the vicinity. All I will care about is the fact that A) you just demonstrated respect that other child, and therefore showed your child that you respect others- a lesson by example, not hollow words. B) you just showed your child that you mean business, you mean NOW, and not ‘when they’re ready’. Discipline is not meant to be on their terms, it’s on yours. Period.
3) And in conjunction with 2, by all means & absolutely explain to your child why you are removing him/her from play & that coveted toy. Very simple:
” That is not your toy.”
“Your friend has that toy right now.”
“I am sorry you are sad (angry, whatever) right now.”
“We respect our friends”
“When you are ready to use kind words and actions, you may ask your friend to play with that toy together, or when they are finished.”
Those are all the things you were already saying, verbally to your child in the first example, am I right? But yours actions, or rather inactions, spoke way louder. How do I know? Because your kid was still up in that other kids face, ignoring the hell out of you until you made him listen.
Don’t misunderstand me, I love words like “redirection” and “compromise” and “sharing”. I think they are effective and useful parenting tools, when used correctly & not as a shield to keep you from doing the ‘hard’ parenting- the kind where you have to be the one handling the tantrum if they don’t get their way.
Oh, I know, trust me- I know how much easier it is to just give in. I had a tantrum thrower. That kid could drown out a jet engine with her vocal ability. She had more endurance than an Olympic runner. So, yeah, I know it’s challenging. But, my now 18 year old… well, she’s definitely not an asshole. Neither of my kids are, and that’s not a brag (fine, yes it is. I earned that brag), that’s kids that were raised to have respect for others. I walked the walk, not just the talk.
So, do the world a favor: don’t accidentally raise your kid to be an asshole, okay ( because I know you’d never do it deliberately)? Balance out those lovely well intended speeches and lectures with some good old fashioned common sense. Please? And thank you (from the rest of the world).