Cheech has recently discovered the art of stealing toys from other kids, and I have to admit it has caught me a bit off guard. It's not that I was expecting her to be this perfect little angel, but rather that I guess I don't know exactly how to handle the situation. The thing is, I think Joe and I might me hyper aware of this type of behavior because we're not planning on having any more children (more on that some other time). We're CONSTANTLY bombarded with unwelcome comments from people telling us that it's a detriment to our child to not give her a sibling, and that we're going to end up raising a bratty and selfish kid. Obviously, I think that's all a load of crap (again, more on that later), but I think all these opinions have caused us to put in the extra effort to ENSURE that we don't end up with a kid who has a strong sense of self-entitlement.
We got the chance to make up that music class she missed last week because of her ear infection. At some point during the class, the teacher emptied out a basket of maracas onto the floor for all the babies to choose from. Kids started picking their instruments left and right, and sure enough, Cheech crawled up to one of them and yanked a maraca right out of her hand. I took it away from her, handed it back to the little girl, and told Cheech that someone was already playing with that one and she had to pick her own. What REALLY shocked me was that after she found and picked her own maraca, another kid came up to her and stole it. His mom said nothing. So, we picked a second maraca and it was stolen by yet another kid. Again, the parent said nothing. As I looked around, I realized that kids were pulling toys out of other kids' hands like little maniacs, and none of the adults in the room seemed to notice/care. I know this is a phase that most babies go through, but is it really customary to just let it be?
When we went to her second music class yesterday, same routine, but this time with mini bongos. And of course, Cheech had her eye on one that had already been nabbed by a little boy. When I took it away from her and handed it back, his mother told me it was fine and that she could play with it. Although I appreciated her kindness, I made it clear that she had to pick her own and that I was trying to teach her that she can't just grab whatever she wants from whomever she wants. The mom looked at me like I was a total lunatic.
Here's the thing, I know Cheech is still very young and that for the most part, she really doesn't understand the concept of right and wrong. HOWEVER, and I could be wrong here, I truly believe that a) these problems should be nipped in the bud (and will be easier to cope with in the future if tackled in the beginning stages), and b) babies are smart and even at a very early age, can learn the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. For Cheech, I find that the best learning tool is repetition. As soon as she started crawling, she was OBSESSED with playing with the cat's food and water bowl. After about 100,000 times of redirecting and "yucks", I know for a fact that she understands that she's not supposed to be touching his stuff. Does she still do it? Yes, occasionally she will. Just yesterday she turned over his water bowl and sat in the puddle of water in her last clean pair of pants. But for the most part, when she crawls up to the bowls, I see her stop and think about her next move. For the most part these days, she'll turn around and crawl away. Sometimes, she'll even look over at me to see if I'm watching... you know, just to test me. Slowly but surely, she's getting it.
Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Are you guys more proactive when it comes to these types of situations, or do you just let it be?