Tuesday, March 20, 2012


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?


Adorable Boogaloos

27 comments:

  1. Okay, so I am not a parent, but I understand that there are different schools of thought and the whole "sharing" thing is evolving. So the moms in your group may be trying a different method?

    My dear friend who does have a baby wrote a bit about it here. I think it ends up being a personal parenting decision, but I found it really interesting that there are different ways to handle it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. awesome link, rachel! it really is fascinating to see which approach different parents take and why. i'd be interested to know if cheech could just "work it out" with another baby. i think i might give it a go.

      Delete
  2. At that age I let it be. The concept of "ownership" didn't really click until around 16-18 months for my son. Now, at 20 months, if we say something belongs to someone else he knows that he can't touch it without permission (and it is awesome for setting boundaries for things he can't play with). I don't think it is a huge deal to let kids be grabby at that age because I feel like they are learning from interacting with each other especially if all the kids are about the same age. If there were a mix of older kids in with the younger kids I might play moderator a little more. I totally understand not wanting to raise a selfish kid but I also wouldn't want to raise a pushover who doesn't assert himself when he feels wronged. I feel like if I am always intervening he won't ever need to develop these conflict resolution skills and because of that I'm consciously trying to avoid developing a hovering habit while he is young. But then I am a total pushover who can't handle confrontation at all, so that is my parenting baggage and yours is the only child stigma. Everyone has something. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you bring up a lot of interesting point here. the class is definitely a mix of ages... the youngest baby being 5 months old, and the oldest hovering around 15 months. cheech is right in the middle. i guess the real answer here is knowing how to read your kid. i never, EVER worry about raising a pushover because, quite honestly, that's just not my kid's personality. if anything, i worry about raising the opposite. i wouldn't call her an aggressive kid, but the girl definitely knows how to stand her ground. i feel that she is the kind of kid that may need a little more monitoring than the average kid. she's so strong willed that i can see it maybe blowing up in our faces if we're not careful.

      Delete
  3. there are things i let my children do, and some things i dont. I do the same as you when my child takes something away from another. I then explain to him why I am doing that action.
    He is now 2years old, and shares pretty well. Even when he is playing with a toy first, and he sees another child want it, he eventually walks up to them, and hands it to them saying "here you go."
    I have been in situations where someone has told me it was alright for my child to do something..i then try to express that i dont feel it is right, because i dont want them doing it anywhere else, even though they feel it is okay to do it in their home ( store ect.)
    If my child isnt allowed to jump on the couch at home, but you allow it in your home, my child still will be disciplined, and is asked not to do it.
    Just my own parenting.
    which makes me think of another thing. when i tell people i feel my home is messy ( so give me a quick min to clean up before you come), they say " it's alright, i dont mind!"..BUT, i do!! I dont feel comfortable with them over, until i have it the way i want it. I want to be able to focus on them when they come over, not worrying if they are seeing my mess.
    ha
    anyways, I guess just do what you feel you are comfortable with. People aren't always going to see eye to eye on it. and as moms, we aren't perfect, and it's easy to judge.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My son will turn one next week and I don't worry about the stealing yet. I figure that when he starts getting upset about toys being taken from him I can start explaining that he shouldn't take from others. I think empathy is a big part of learning right and wrong and until he develops that he probably won't understand.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that makes sense, but what if his actions are upsetting another kid? like i said, i don't think cheech can really understand right and wrong. actually, i'm pretty sure she has NO CLUE of either concept. i think, more than trying to teach her what they are at this point, i'm trying to get her in the habit of healthy play practices.
      that being said, i may be more aware of this behavior than other parents because i have cheech around other babies ALL THE TIME. except for joe's weekend, she has at least one play date with 1-3 kids a day.

      Delete
  5. i can't offer a helpful not-a-parent link like rachel can, but i can tell you that i do not recall any such lesson from my parents, and i steal my little sister's underwear to this day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. two things i couldn't share with ANYONE, including my sister: underwear and deodorant.

      Delete
  6. My son is 10 months and I'm totally on team Let-It-Be. I see your point about teaching her from the get-go, but I don't really think babies this young are developmentally ready to understand sharing and turn-taking. I'm no expert on the matter, so perhaps I'm wrong. I also really do my best to avoid any type of "helicopter parenting". Unless my kid or another kid is at risk or getting hurt, I really try to avoid mediating his play.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. considering the amount of injuries cheech has endured and the fact that she eats a fair amount of food off the floor, i'm not sure i fall into the "helicopter parenting" category, but i am a fan of setting boundaries. even at 11 months.
      i have to admit that i do like the idea of letting little ones figure it out on their own, but at the same time, i can't help but think that as her parent, it's my obligation to at least steer her in the right direction. perhaps i feel that the more "on top of it" i am at this age, the less i will have to be as she gets older.

      Delete
  7. I have no idea about this yet as ZoZo is 6 months, however she will most likely be an only child and I am interested in your perspective on that. We've had nothing but negative reactions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. no worries. EPIC post coming soon. ;)

      Delete
    2. We're planning to stop at one too, so I can't wait to read that!

      Delete
  8. Hooray! I am a preschool teacher and I'm glad to hear a parent express this. I see where Team Let It Be is coming from (children DO need space to figure things out on their own socially), but you are right in that littles understand so much. Why not teach them early? The kids that have missed this lesson by age 2 are pretty apparent in the classroom, and then they have a harder time being flexible and getting along with the others. I think you are helping yourself, too, because as she gets older and needs to learn these boundaries more and more, you'll already be a pro at teaching and redirecting.

    ReplyDelete
  9. great hearing from a preschool teacher! babies really are so smart. it's kind of unbelievable to witness sometimes. and yes, at this point in her life, i know that she can't wrap her head around good behavior and bad behavior, but she does understand routine. which is exactly why i'm trying to be consistent with this.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love this topic! I've thought a lot about this, too.

    I watched a professor talk about how preschools in American differ from preschools in Japan (I think it was in the documentary about raising emotionally healthy boys, called Raising Cain). He talked about how American parents and teachers tend to swoop in and try to solve everything for their children instead of letting them negotiate relationships and interactions themselves. The video showed a child hitting another child. The teacher mindfully watched the whole incident happen, but she stayed back while other children in the classroom came to the aid of the "victim" and basically lectured the hitter about how it's not cool to hit other people. It was amazing to watch the children learning from each other. It's definitely changed my approach when Henry (age 1) takes a toy from another child. I usually sit back and watch the other child take it back or reach for another toy. I totally agree with you that young children understand way more than we give them credit for (their receptive language is astounding!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh wow, that's super interesting. i can't help but wonder how much cultural differences play a part in this. did they try the same scenario with the exact teacher reaction in an american classroom to compare? in other words, would american children stick up for the victim and reprimand the attacker, too? i'm going to have to watch this documentary.

      Delete
  11. I'm in the intervention camp for similar reasons to yours. Sometimes people look at me like I'm crazy because I ask a lot of my son, and I don't baby talk him about it either. But, you know what? He's actually a really great listener. He shares well, and responds to my requests (often enough). I have no concerns that I'm raising a pushover because, trust me, this kid knows how to share his feelings, and can be very defiant at times, but it makes my life easier if I can trust him to play well with other kids for the most part.

    Our children are constantly learning. They are made to learn! While I do see merit in backing off, especially for older children, I do not buy the argument that 'there's no point' in trying to teach a baby/young toddler.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. exactly. cheech couldn't be a pushover if she tried. that being said, i witness kids/babies being "bullied" quite often, so i think i'm starting to realize that this ultimately comes down to what type of kid you have.

      Delete
  12. How sweet of Rachel to share my blog post about this topic. I love your blog, btw! I still am working my way through the "sh" issue, but definitely have taken a big step back when watching my daughter (now 14 months) play with other littles. My aim is not to be a passive parent or not teach her right from wrong (although I do get self-conscious that others are assuming that of me). I certainly set very clear boundaries about some concrete things (like don't touch the doggy bowl or wall outlets). But when it comes to social interactions, I'd rather to let her learn these lessons on her own and from the other kids around her, and internalize them so the motivation comes from within, not just to please mama. Maybe that sounds a little hokey :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. no, that doesn't sound hokey at all. :)

    i guess my concern would be, what if a kid simply doesn't learn the lessons on his/her own through social interactions with other kids? what if they just DON'T GET IT? although i believe that most kids would eventually figure it out, i'm not sure that they all could. i find that some kids tend to naturally have a touch more bravado than other kids, resulting in them taking the "alpha role" in play. which, is TOTALLY FINE. after all, that's how LIFE works anyway. but it does concern me that some of these kids can take their aggressive personality a bit too far if not monitored properly. i'm not saying this is my concern for cheech... it's just food for thought.

    i'll give you an example. most of cheech's baby friends are roughly 5-7 months older than her (so, 15-18 months old). on a couple of occasions, while at the park, i've witnessed other kids trying to take something that one of the girls is playing with or trying to "cut" in front of them on a play structure, and therefore visibly upsetting them. again, the girls are older than cheech so they have different reactions to this sort of occurrence than she would, but on all of those occasions, i couldn't help but notice that there was no parent/nanny in sight to notice that their kid was upsetting another kid. as a parent, this really frustrates me. if someone's kid does something to piss off my kid, i expect that kid's parent to do something about it. if they don't say something, i will. and it's not because i feel i have the right to "parent" other kids. trust me, i don't. but i do know that kids learn by example, and i know that if they see another kid acting inappropriately without repercussions, they may very likely think that sort of behavior is ok and mimic it.

    i guess what i'm trying to say is, i really do see the beauty in letting kids figure it out on their own, but in situations such as the one mentioned above, should a parent still just let it be? just because they're not PHYSICALLY hurting another kid? does emotionally hurting them not matter/count?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally see your points- those types of questions still swirl around in my brain, too. Even with these hesitations, I still believe in the philosophy of hands-off parenting (when it comes to play, both independent play and group play) and try to practice it even though I know it's not a perfect science.

      I think my instinct is to rush in too early and start labeling certain kids in my mind as the aggressors and certain kids as the victims when the kids might not actually see things in those terms. Then it becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. I've just seen too many times moms rushing in and the anxiety level goes up 10x for everyone. Sure, sometimes moms can distract the kids or change the subject, but I don't think moms can ever really solve these conflicts for their kids. I have more faith in the politics of the playground actually!

      I think it's certainly ok to come in and help mediate if i feel things are getting too volatile. But I kind of think that should be the rarity.

      Honestly, from my observations, I don't see the kids with hover moms (not saying this is you!) as being any better behaved than the kids who's moms stay out of the way. Now, there's a difference between being a consciously restrained parent like me, and one who is totally negligent and doesn't give a flying flip. The latter is where kids really become screwed up.

      Sisi is still young, and isn't really all that sensitive to what the other kids are doing to her. But soon she'll be more aware, and I imagine that when she gets pissed or frustrated, i'll talk it out with her and tell her i understand that she's frustrated because someone took the toy she was playing with, and give her some time to be pissed. perhaps a little breather or go to the other side of the playground. But I don't think I'll try to enforce sharing rules in that moment.

      And definitely, we should be generous, gracious people ourselves and model that for our kids, fo sho! Research has proven that's the most important way to teach :)

      Delete
  14. Eh, I think I'm in the Lord of the Flies school of thought (in the moment.) It seems like this "mine" thing is a phase to a degree, and a way of children experimenting with social order. I kind of think they work it out over time. Then again, if my child were doing this beyond an age that seemed appropriate (like late 2s, early 3s) I'd probably explain why they upset the other child and that they wouldn't like that done to them.

    ReplyDelete
  15. ugh, i just wrote a long long long comment, posted and it disappeared.

    recap: @Kristin, thank you so much for the great links on your blog. LOVE the videos. We're big fans of the RIE method.

    Celia, thank you for bringing this topic up...it is SO hard to figure all of this out. I'm totally with Kirstin on this one...I think we bring so much of our own history and judgements/labels with us to the playground.

    Teaching kids how to verbalize emotions, frustrations and feelings is so important. We do a lot of talking about things right now (aka "I can see that you don't want to go in the car seat, that it makes you angry, but you need to sit down so that we can go home and play with the dog.").
    Some of it may seem like a bunch of hippie hoo-ha but it's giving our kids the skills to express feelings rather than lose it and smack a kid in the head with a shovel.

    Anyway, it's so good to hear other points of view. Thanks for that.

    ReplyDelete
  16. you are SO right about this. if you teach them young, it is so much easier to instill it in them. i can't believe you were the only parent teaching this at music class...that is crazy.

    I've grown up around kids (my mom has a daycare in her home) and i'm now a nanny, so i know how much harder it is to teach them things like this when they are older. and like you said, you can already tell she understands you with the dog food. babies are so much smarter than we realize, and we need to give them more credit. ;)

    good job for teaching her to be a good person and share. you are a good momma. and don't listen to people about having more kids, i know plenty of 'only child' people and they are some of the most well rounded and generous people i know. it's all about the parenting.

    -Tina

    ReplyDelete
  17. Personally, I've always felt out the mood of each specific situation. Sometimes I hang back, sometimes I am immediately intervening, and other times I am predicting that something might happen and preventing the scenario altogether, if possible. My favorite is often the latter as it's the method I always tried to use when working with kids in elementary schools. It's the least messy emotionally and provides an opportunity for modeling behavior which is the strongest form of influence for kids.

    One thing I realized about teaching the idea of sharing is that *I* had to do it more often. HA! I am the WORST when it comes to sharing my food with my husband, et cetera. When I think of it, I make a conscious effort to share more.

    We hang out at a family co-op for playtime and I've noticed that kids are a bit chiller there with sharing because there is so much to share. There are certainly quarrels, but it happens much less intensely than when we go to a cafe for kid's music or library/music time where the number of toys and space is very limited.

    I think a year old is very young to be strictly enforcing sharing. I don't think it's too young to be teaching sharing, but if it causes upset with a baby, I prefer methods of distraction or redirection. When the stakes are lower, then those are good times for teaching sharing.

    I'm not totally convinced that this is a problem that can be "nipped in the bud." Problems with sharing only seem to amplify as the child gets older. Three years olds are the absolute worst at sharing, and I cannot imagine that every single one of them have parents who haven't tried to teach sharing. It seems to be a normal part of childhood development, and perhaps even an important one. Which is not to say that it shouldn't be worked on, but that it's not a fire that needs to be extinguished entirely.

    ReplyDelete