Dear Mamas everywhere,
When we get together for playdates, or run into one another at the playground, trampoline park, etc., let’s all agree that kids will be kids. It is our job to correct unwanted behaviors and teach the behaviors we want to see. The only way to teach some behaviors (and correct others) is to be in a place with other children.
First of all, I want to say thank you to all of the involved parents that are right next to their children observing, teaching, correcting, and playing! This is refreshing and makes the experience enjoyable for all of us and all of our children.
I notice something happening, however, that I want to address. Moms saying “it’s ok”.
Here’s an example scenario:
Child A is playing with a toy.
Maybe child A is refusing to share with Child B.
Child B comes up and grabs it out of Child A’s hands.
Child A is now crying or trying to get it back, etc.
The mom of Child A is going to want to immediately reinforce the concept of sharing.
The mom of Child B is going to want to immediately reinforce the concept that we don’t take things from other people.
Both moms have lessons to teach and both are going to go about it immediately and in different ways.
What I see happen at playdates and other social settings, is each mom talking to their own child for a moment. Then, the mom of Child A might ask her child to share with Child B and let him have a turn. The mom of Child B often says “oh, it’s ok”.
I’ve stopped saying “it’s ok” in a moment like this. I decided to do this, because I realized that mom A has a lessons needing to be taught as well. She’s doing exactly what I’d be doing (and have done) in that scenario. So, while it is ok (my child doesn’t need Child A to share with her), I’ve started letting this happen without my comment. Instead of saying “it’s ok”, it is important to take the opportunity to join in. This mom has a lesson to teach as well!
Scenario 1: Perhaps say “Oh look, Child A wants to share now! Isn’t that nice? Now you can take the toy since he’s handing it to you.” Then have Child B say “thank you”. (Or something to that effect). Then perhaps in a few minutes (depending on age), ask Child B to share with Child A again, etc. Or, try and get them to play together!
Scenario 2: In your eyes, your child (Child B) was so bad that you don’t want him to have the toy (even if Child A is sharing). You could:
A- have your child say “no thank you” when the toy is offered (both children still get to experience their lesson)
B- tell the other mom that you don’t want your child to be offered the toy (this hinders the mom of Child A in teaching her lesson so it is not ideal, but they can always find another child to share with)
C- remove your child from the situation all together (this also hinders the mom of Child A, but is sometimes very necessary)
I think my point is, that we don’t have to teach our children alone. We can all join in the process and help one another out! When they are young and not in school yet, these moments are often the only opportunities that we have to teach in action and in the moment. I, personally, want to take full advantage of them. We need to not only think about the lessons that we want to teach, but also what we would be doing in the other moms shoes. There will always be multiple goals and lessons that need to be achieved. We can help one another get there.
So, I am now the mom that let’s you have your child give a toy back to mine, etc. I no longer say “it’s ok”, because it isn’t ok. It isn’t ok for you to not get to teach your lesson. And I am so thankful that you are taking the time to teach it! The initial lesson of telling Child B to not take a toy can happen pretty instantaneously, so it is totally fine (as long as I get that moment) for you to have your child share, etc.
And seriously, thank you to all the moms that are there for those moments! I tend to not want to be in social settings once/if I realize that the moms there aren’t paying attention or being actively involved. Pretty much every minute there is something to correct, praise, or teach. So, thank you for being right there. Now let’s all start working as a team! It truly does take a village. Don’t forget we all have lessons to teach. Let’s help each other out!