Other people’s children

Over the summer, Monkey and I have been spending a lot of time with my mummy friends and their children. It’s great because the kids get out a lot to burn off some energy, and we get some company to natter and vent to. It is also great because 3 pairs of eyes are better than one, especially in busy play areas where the are lots of other children. Our town park has a big sand pit which the kids all love. People take their own buckets and spades and, kids being kids, there are some slight tussles over ownership, as when they are that little, everything is ‘mine!’

Being the summer holidays though there are also a lot of older kids about, so again it helps having extra sets of eyes. No matter how observant you are you just can’t keep your eyes fixed on your child every millisecond of the day. And you can guarantee that in the split second that you turn away, something has happened that has left one child angry and another in tears, but with you having no idea what caused the fracas. Having three sets of mummy eyes helps with this sometimes but not always.

Ok so all kids go through phases of pushing boundaries and testing their limits. They are egocentric at the best of times and think everything is theirs, hence the problems that arise over toys and things in the play area. But, as parents, I think anyway, that it is up to us to teach them through repetition the best way to handle these situations. In ways that don’t involve hitting or pushing or shouting at each other. Teaching calmly about sharing and turn taking. I’m not saying that it is easy to do but I think it’s a life skill that they need.

Some children are naturally a bit more boisterous than others, but also, some parents are a bit more hands off in their approach and would rather the children resolve it themselves. I’m not judging as I know we are all just doing the best we can, but it is difficult of your style of parenting doesn’t match the people around you in the play area. I am lucky that my friends and I have similar attitudes towards raising our kids, of course we do some things differently but on the whole it’s pretty similar. None of us think smacking is a good idea, we try and get them all to eat healthily and we encourage them to share and play nicely together.

Disciplining someone else’s child is a massively difficult area. My friends and I gently tell each other’s children No, if we know it is what each other would say. But that’s because we know each other quite well and know what is and isn’t acceptable for them. Even then though you don’t want to cross the line. The problem with play areas and things is that  if your child is having a to-do with another kid, if you’re the first parent to see it, then what do you do?

Two little boys had a fight at the park yesterday over one of their buckets. The boy who it belonged to was really upset but the other boy, who wanted it was getting more and more aggressive. Unfortunately the aggressive boy’s mum didn’t realise what was happening for a while, so the other little boy’s mummy had to try and tell him to give the bucket back as it was not his, which he was not going to do! Eventually the other mummy saw what was going on and made him give the bucket back, but it raises a difficult question. How far can you tell off (discipline seems a strong word) someone else’s child?

Or what do you do if someone else’s child is overly aggressive towards yours, but their parent says and does nothing? Do you try and walk away or do you tell off the other child, or try to talk to the parent? Maybe it depends how far things have got. Or what if it goes the other way, and they discipline their child by being aggressive with them 0r smacking them? Leave it up to them how best to discipline their child I suppose. But it’s difficult to teach your child not to be aggressive and not to hit etc, if other parents allow their children to do it to them.

I can’t say I know the answers, at the moment as Monkey is still quite little I just try and steer him away from these situations and concentrate on telling him not to snatch etc. But I know that this issue will raise it’s head many times over the next few years or so! Perhaps I should just focus on how I want to discipline Monkey and try and just keep that in mind rather than worrying too much about other people’s children!

Thanks for taking the time to write something. I love comments and read every one xx

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