Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Parenting Dilemma: To Say Something or Not

As most of you know, I spend the majority of my working time as a "Nanny" to my two adorable Nieces. Part of this role involves dropping off and picking up my oldest niece, Caitlin at preschool. Each morning and afternoon when I do this I spend about 5 minutes waiting outside with Ryan and Julia. They play, the dig in the dirt, pick up leaves, etc.  There are other siblings of the preschoolers there as well. There is one little girl who has a reputation as a bit of a trouble maker. Her grandmother is with her waiting for her brother to either go into or come out of school. On numerous occasions this little girl has treated Ryan poorly, and I am wondering what the best way is to deal with the situation. 

Side note: As with all 2ish-year-old children we are currently in the process of teaching Ryan how to share and be considerate of his peers. This is not something that comes naturally to a 2 year old, and Ryan is no exception. Though, fortunately (or not) he seems to save his worst behavior and complete refusal to share for his little cousin Julia, when we are home. So far I have not been in the position of having to discipline him in public, though I am sure the day will come. 

So, this is what played out outside of preschool: Ryan was playing with a leaf, happily brushing it back and forth along a fence. Said little girl, we will call her Sally, came up to Ryan and grabbed the leaf from his hand while yelling, "MINE!" Ryan looked at the little girl sadly and then looked up at me. 

In the few seconds I had before I reacted I thought the following things:
  1.  I don't want to embarrass this little girl's grandma.
  2. If I expect Ryan to learn to share and be sensitive, I cannot have a double standard and expect him to just "deal" when other kids don't share with him or treat him insensitively. 
  3. This is a great opportunity to help teach Ryan empathy. 
  4. If I react too strongly I will look like "that mom." 
So, I gently said to the little girl, "No Sally, that is Ryan's leaf. You need to give it back to him." She did not, and then her grandma  intervened. She took the leaf from Sally's hand and a complete meltdown ensued on Sally's part. I then took the opportunity to quietly say to Ryan, "That made you sad when Sally took your leaf, didn't it? (He said yes). That is why we don't take things from people. We don't want to make them sad. Sally needs to share with you and be nice, just like you need to share with Julia. Right?" I know Ryan is still young, and much of this may have gone over his head. But, these are the "teachable moments" that as parents we must jump on. 

And yet, I still feel bad that I made a big deal out of leaf. I think if Sally's Mom was there, instead of her Grandma I wouldn't feel so bad. Sally's mom is more responsible for her behavior than her Grandma is. But I wonder, should I have just picked up another leaf, given it to Ryan, and moved on? My gut tells me no. If I had done that I wouldn't have been teaching Ryan or Sally anything about the correct way to treat their peers. 

Ahhhh, parenting is filled with one challenge after another. I know that these "how to address situations with Ryan's peers" questions will only get more challenging as he grows older. This is just the beginning!

Have you been faced with a similar situation? How did you react? 

1 comment:

  1. You did the right thing. I wish I had the perfect answer that would apply to all situations but it really depends on the kid and the issue at hand. I've been in that exact situation when you don't know exactly how to react and it's hard. As parents we go over and over how we should have done things differently in our head but the kids move on to the next thing and forget about whatever it is we are obsessing over. Luckily, you'll have the chance to do it all over again today with more teachable moments! You're doing a great job momma, keep it up!


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