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Confrontation with another mom at open gym. - Page 2

post #21 of 124
Wow! What an awful experience. I don't have much to add, I don't think you did anything wrong. I don't believe in forcing apologies, so I certainly wouldn't feel bad about that. Clearly this other mom has got some issues and it sounds pretty sad all around. It stinks that you are inevitably going to see her again, but I probably wouldn't bring this episode up. I mean, this isn't a friendship that you're trying to save or anything like that so I'd just let it pass. I would be concerned that something like that might happen again though, but hopefully it won't.
post #22 of 124
I'm going to have to be a dissenter...

When I first read the OP I thought this was a toddler situation and I would have said something to the little boy and mom but not a huge deal. When I rescanned I noticed that your ds is 7.5 and at that age I would have been more concerned over this behavior and gone farther to rectify the situation. We definitely would have left if the two boys couldn't work it out.
post #23 of 124
I think I would have gone over and talked to both boys together and helped mediate. I wouldn't have forced an apology. I think your son in particular would have benefited from this because he could have heard how upset the other child was, you could have pointed out to him "Look how upset C was when you took the ball. He didn't realize you were trying to start playing." You could have then helped C understand your son's interactions "It looks like my son was trying to start playing with you and the ball, and that's why he took it. That wasn't a very good strategy, was it? What do you think would work better?" "I also see that you both got really upset. What do you think you can do differently next time other than hitting?"

Some sort of peace DOES need to be made between the kids or there will be tension. And it helps if an adult models it.

By the same token, if I heard someone else's child calling mine weirdo, my momma bear would have been over talking to his mom ASAP. "you probably didn't hear that, but your son has been calling my son names. What can we do so the kids treat each other respectfully?"

FWIW, I think this mom was WAY WAY out of line. If she thinks her son is being excluded, storming around, yelling at other parents and creating a scene is NOT a way to get her son INCLUDED. Talking to the other parents and kids calmly is a much better way to do it.
post #24 of 124
I'm not going to comment on the whole altercation but yes, IMO, you should have had him apologize. I seriously do not understand all the people on here who don't believe in making your child apologize when they do something wrong. It is called teaching your child, it is called guiding them to learn how to behave properly in the world. Yes, your son should have apologized. No, she wasn't right to freak out. But if it had been me there and your son did that and you didn't have him apologize to my son I would be thinking that you weren't that great a parent too.
post #25 of 124
Quote:
When we arrived at the gym he ran in to play. C is a boy we have seen quite a bit but do not know well. I don't really click with his mom but we are in a small co-op together. So C was playing with another boy with a ball. The ball fell and I guess DS picked it up and ran with it (obvious to me it was his way to initiate play). C was upset, chased DS and called him "Weirdo" over and over again. DS lost his temper and hit C over the head with the ball (one of those soft rubber baby balls, NOT a basketball). C then hit DS, DS hit him back.
I'll preface by saying my son struggles similarly.

Your son interrupted the game of another two boys, and likely to the other boys it seemed that he was stealing the ball rather than trying to join in. Thus the enraged "weirdo" and chasing. Your son then escalated things by hitting the other boy; back and forth hitting ensued.

Here's some hard-earned advice, not meant as judgement, but just what I've learned and what's worked for us.

I know your ability to quickly respond was limited due to nursing at the time, but knowing that my son had trouble joining in play, I wouldn't nurse until my son settled in (if possible).

Assuming I was free to move, I would have gone over and gently separated them. I would have said clearly to my son "you may not use your body to hurt another person" (established rule, and stated this way addresses both of their behaviours). If the boys were clearly not going to be able to reconcile then, I would have had my child come to the side with me for a discussion about choices made, what he could have done differently, what the other kids probably thought he was trying to do (steal the ball rather than join play), and what he could do to make it right.

If the boys looked like they could play together, I would say to the other boy "it seems there was a misunderstanding. Billy grabbed the ball because he wanted to join you and it looked to you like he was stealing it. Is there a game the three of you can play together, without hitting and name calling? How about ______."

Later, DS and I would debrief about what happened. This is an area my son struggles with. I view my job as coach for him, and to support him in scenarios that are predictably challenging or vulnerable for him.

I have nothing to say about the other mom; I hope she was just having a particularly bad day. Though it seems she has a different perspective on the kids' interactions generally.
post #26 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
I'm not going to comment on the whole altercation but yes, IMO, you should have had him apologize. I seriously do not understand all the people on here who don't believe in making your child apologize when they do something wrong. It is called teaching your child, it is called guiding them to learn how to behave properly in the world. Yes, your son should have apologized. No, she wasn't right to freak out. But if it had been me there and your son did that and you didn't have him apologize to my son I would be thinking that you weren't that great a parent too.

I don't disagree with this. I think the "not forcing an apology" approach best happens in a larger context of encouraging reconciliation and being accountable for choices.

My son is 6.5. If he had hit the other boy 3 minutes after getting there, I would probably have left or, given the need/right of other sibs to stay, had him have a cool off period beside me while he brainstormed how to make it right (in our world, that means asking if the other person is ok and some version of apology, possibly up to reparations depending on what occured).
post #27 of 124
I am another who thinks you handled it just fine. You talked with your DS, you didn't just let it go. Maybe she didn't realize that but she didn't need to assume you didn't do anything either.

When you see her again I would act as if nothing had happened. Just be the way you normally are around her. If you normally say "hello" to her at the co-op then say hello. You didn't do anything wrong. If she brings it up again and wants to calmly discuss the situation with you, fine, though I'd request the discussion take place privately, not in front of the other parents. She had no right (or reason) to yell at you and you were right to tell her she was being a bit harsh (understatement, but effective, I think). She seems a bit off--she essentially threw a tantrum in front of everyone at open gym.
post #28 of 124
I probably would have explained to DS what the perception from the other boys perspective was about him taking the ball and had him apologize for that. I would NOT have made him apologize for hitting the other child with the ball, but we would have had a discussion about appropriate outlets of expression when someone upsets you. I don't think anyone deserves to be hit (except in self defense situations), but I also think name calling is equally as bad. Two wrongs don't make a right, but at that age they sometimes forget, and imo at that point BOTH boys were not behaving appropriately. I think you reacted correctly when you saw him hit C the last time by pulling him out of play and discussing the situation with him. Clearly from her later outburst, C's mom was watching the entire exchange and presumably saw her child calling yours names and saw her child hit yours as well. As she did not have her child apologize either, then the situation was a wash so to speak, both kids "wrong", neither apologizing, playing field was level at that point. I understand that C was unhappy with your son, and he was probably justified in it, but his behaviour with the rest of the group was pretty immature as well. From his mother's outburst it sounds like he may get that from her - it was completely inappropriate and uncalled for, and not a good model for the children present. Hopefully she was just having a really bad day or has some other stress going on that caused her to over react, and this will all blow over. (It's possible there was a recent or looming job loss, death or serious illness in the family, etc. We don't know the details of other people's lives, and while it doesn't excuse her behaviour, the "big" stress can cause more extreme reactions in people.)

It sounds like a real mess to be honest. Since you know you'll see them again, I'd really talk to my son and encourage him to apologize to C the next time he sees him for taking his ball. As for the mom, if she starts something again, I'd politely tell her that I would be happy to discuss this in a calm and rational manner but would not stand there to be screamed at. And then I would simply turn around and walk away from her. Good luck, it doesn't sound like fun.

K.
post #29 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
I think I would have gone over and talked to both boys together and helped mediate. I wouldn't have forced an apology. I think your son in particular would have benefited from this because he could have heard how upset the other child was, you could have pointed out to him "Look how upset C was when you took the ball. He didn't realize you were trying to start playing." You could have then helped C understand your son's interactions "It looks like my son was trying to start playing with you and the ball, and that's why he took it. That wasn't a very good strategy, was it? What do you think would work better?" "I also see that you both got really upset. What do you think you can do differently next time other than hitting?"

Some sort of peace DOES need to be made between the kids or there will be tension. And it helps if an adult models it.

By the same token, if I heard someone else's child calling mine weirdo, my momma bear would have been over talking to his mom ASAP. "you probably didn't hear that, but your son has been calling my son names. What can we do so the kids treat each other respectfully?"

FWIW, I think this mom was WAY WAY out of line. If she thinks her son is being excluded, storming around, yelling at other parents and creating a scene is NOT a way to get her son INCLUDED. Talking to the other parents and kids calmly is a much better way to do it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joensally View Post
I'll preface by saying my son struggles similarly.

Your son interrupted the game of another two boys, and likely to the other boys it seemed that he was stealing the ball rather than trying to join in. Thus the enraged "weirdo" and chasing. Your son then escalated things by hitting the other boy; back and forth hitting ensued.

Here's some hard-earned advice, not meant as judgement, but just what I've learned and what's worked for us.

I know your ability to quickly respond was limited due to nursing at the time, but knowing that my son had trouble joining in play, I wouldn't nurse until my son settled in (if possible).

Assuming I was free to move, I would have gone over and gently separated them. I would have said clearly to my son "you may not use your body to hurt another person" (established rule, and stated this way addresses both of their behaviours). If the boys were clearly not going to be able to reconcile then, I would have had my child come to the side with me for a discussion about choices made, what he could have done differently, what the other kids probably thought he was trying to do (steal the ball rather than join play), and what he could do to make it right.

If the boys looked like they could play together, I would say to the other boy "it seems there was a misunderstanding. Billy grabbed the ball because he wanted to join you and it looked to you like he was stealing it. Is there a game the three of you can play together, without hitting and name calling? How about ______."

Later, DS and I would debrief about what happened. This is an area my son struggles with. I view my job as coach for him, and to support him in scenarios that are predictably challenging or vulnerable for him.

I have nothing to say about the other mom; I hope she was just having a particularly bad day. Though it seems she has a different perspective on the kids' interactions generally.
Great ideas on how to handle this.

The other mom was wrong to have a full blown tantrum over it.

I do think that you probably need to be more available to guide your ds's social interactions since you know he has trouble.
Maybe roleplay more what your ds can do if someone calls him a name, hits or how he should ask to play would help too.
Since you are going to see them again I wonder if it would be best to be the bigger person and apologize to the other mom and try to make peace.

I don't tolerate hitting. Dd knows that. If my dd hit it would not matter if she was called a name first. She could either apologize/make things right or I would apologize and we would leave asap.
post #30 of 124
i think you did a pretty good job. as a general rule I would expect dc to apologize but in this instance probably not. it would have just esscelated the mess. it was ugly all around.

the only thing I would have done differently is gotten to mom or C as soon as I could and made sure evrything was ok and apologizing for not being able to jump in sooner.
post #31 of 124
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the advice! I do appreciate it.

While I do think her yelling and tantrum was WAY out of line, I should have been the better parent and had my son walk over with me to C to mediate. I could have apologized for him.

I do want to note that I did ask my son if he felt he could apologize. He felt he was not in the wrong. For him, taking the ball was in fun. The ball did fall and roll away, he didn't grab it from the kids. He really wasn't trying to be mean. But if I had cleared that up, then maybe we wouldn't have had this problem.

I struggle with resenting her for never doing this with her son the times he has excluded mine, but like a PP said, I should be the better person. When I was telling this story to a good friend of mine, she told me C and another boy physically stopped her children from playing on a playground and called them names and excluded them. They left with her kids in tears and C's mom never did a thing.

I will handle this better next time. I do not think I should have left with my son unless she left with hers. Now, if my son had walked up to her and punched him in the face without saying a word, then heck yes! We would have left.
post #32 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post
I do think that you probably need to be more available to guide your ds's social interactions since you know he has trouble.
I completely agree with this sentiment. We've had experiences a couple of times where other parents felt because their child struggled with some issue, that our children should compensate. I fully believe it's the parent's role to help her own children in these situations rather than rely on the other children to be understanding.

While your son may have improved, for him not to realize at 7 that grabbing a ball and running with it away from the other children who were playing is a problem suggests he really has a long way to go in terms of social interaction. I really think in that case you should be more involved with helping him navigate social situations - and even speaking for him when needed - until he's capable of doing it on his own.
post #33 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Savoury View Post
Thank you for the advice! I do appreciate it.

While I do think her yelling and tantrum was WAY out of line, I should have been the better parent and had my son walk over with me to C to mediate. I could have apologized for him.

I do want to note that I did ask my son if he felt he could apologize. He felt he was not in the wrong. For him, taking the ball was in fun. The ball did fall and roll away, he didn't grab it from the kids. He really wasn't trying to be mean. But if I had cleared that up, then maybe we wouldn't have had this problem.

I struggle with resenting her for never doing this with her son the times he has excluded mine, but like a PP said, I should be the better person. When I was telling this story to a good friend of mine, she told me C and another boy physically stopped her children from playing on a playground and called them names and excluded them. They left with her kids in tears and C's mom never did a thing.

I will handle this better next time. I do not think I should have left with my son unless she left with hers. Now, if my son had walked up to her and punched him in the face without saying a word, then heck yes! We would have left.
A couple of thoughts.

There's a saying, 'it's not what you said but what the other person heard.' Your intention, their perception. When we're interacting with others, it's important to attend to this, IMO. Was it reasonable for the other boy to perceive that DS was stealing the ball? I think so. The learning opportunity for your son here was that there are better ways to join in play that are more likely to be received as friendly.

The second thought is that it's not about what they did or didn't do - you can't control them, but you can take responsibility for yourself. DS was a chronic hitter. I have repeated versions of "I know it hurt your feelings when he did ____. But it is not okay to hit. You can't control him, but you are responsible for your own choices" a zillion times. It's working, and there is now only one context in which I know he's going to struggle with self management.

Life isn't fair, but we need to conduct ourselves as well as we can, rather than getting positional. If the standard we set for ourselves is the low one demonstrated by others, our lives will have more conflict rather than less. This other mom is clearly struggling with self control and guiding her son.

Incidents like these can be learning opportunties, and I try to derive as much from them as I can.
post #34 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
I'm not going to comment on the whole altercation but yes, IMO, you should have had him apologize. I seriously do not understand all the people on here who don't believe in making your child apologize when they do something wrong. It is called teaching your child, it is called guiding them to learn how to behave properly in the world. Yes, your son should have apologized. No, she wasn't right to freak out. But if it had been me there and your son did that and you didn't have him apologize to my son I would be thinking that you weren't that great a parent too.
I know we all have different reasons, but I'll share why we don't force apologies. First our children are still young enough (2 and 4) that we're working on teaching them to be true to themselves. That sometimes means we aren't sorry. While we do talk with our 4YO about not saying hurtful things even if they're true ("that dress is ugly" and that sort of thing), I don't believe it's necessary to teach that we should apologize when we're not sorry.

DH and I don't do that as adults. There have been times when people felt I should apologize to them, and I haven't. So I didn't apologize. It's tougher than always being the one to say "sorry," but I think overall it's better.

Now we do focus on peace-making with others or sharing that we are sorry when we are. We also talk about explaining when something's an accident and then seeing if the other person's okay.

The second reason - and I suspect a more common one - is that I see a large number of people who believe a simple apology suffices for anything they do. My MIL talks about this with children at school all the time. They have children who think they shouldn't get in trouble because they mumbled "sorry" to someone. In the OP's situation, what would an insincere apology do? Would that alone make the mom feel better? If it would, then you know the problem wasn't grievous. We've been at playgrounds where kids were literally running over other children, but yell "sorry" as they pass. Their parents shrug and say, "he said he's sorry." That, to me, is much worse than a child who decides that he isn't going to apologize.

That said, I don't think not wanting to make someone apologize means letting that person off the hook for the action. In the OP's case, I either would have left or made my child sit with me for 10 minutes or so. What he did was wrong. He shouldn't have taken the ball, and he shouldn't have hit (twice). He was the aggressor, and Mom should have addressed that. As a parent, I would assess the situation based on the other parent's reaction to her child. Was she dealing with the situation or shrugging it off? That's a bigger indicator of whether I'd bring it up to her than the apology.
post #35 of 124
Thread Starter 
fwiw, he sat w/ me for 10 min.
post #36 of 124
I think the other mother seemed to have the problem. Perhpas she was just having a bad day.

I do "forced" apologies. I teach my children that their actions and behaviour is what they need to concern themselves with. If they were in the wrong, in any way, they owe the other person an apology, whether or not the other person apologizes back. I want them to be in control of their own actions, and learn to not react to a situation based on someone elses actions.

But that is just how I usually handle it. I think the worst of the problem you had was with the other mother. She really overreacted. And if her son was excluding himself, she should have been aware of it long before her explosion.
post #37 of 124
I would stay away from her.
post #38 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavenly View Post
I'm not going to comment on the whole altercation but yes, IMO, you should have had him apologize. I seriously do not understand all the people on here who don't believe in making your child apologize when they do something wrong. It is called teaching your child, it is called guiding them to learn how to behave properly in the world. Yes, your son should have apologized. No, she wasn't right to freak out. But if it had been me there and your son did that and you didn't have him apologize to my son I would be thinking that you weren't that great a parent too.
I don't know about anyone else's motivations, but I don't force apologies and my reason is that I want my child to feel empathy and remorse, not grumpily parrot some unfelt phrase to wipe the slate clean.

I don't know what I will do if my child gets to seven and doesn't routinely apologise, but I know that the routine I follow with 3/4 year olds is what professionals recommend as a way to end up with a child who feels empathy and genuinely tries to make amends as opposed to teaching them to grunt "sorry" and all will be forgiven.
post #39 of 124
I don't force apologies because I don't believe in forcing children to lie.

I do encourage peacemaking. There are lots of ways to make peace beyond a formulaic "I'm sorry." (Especially if they aren't actually sorry, LOL!) More often than not, my kids actually do end up saying "I'm sorry; please forgive me." And I am thrilled knowing it's coming from their hearts and not from me.
post #40 of 124
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delicateflower View Post
I don't know about anyone else's motivations, but I don't force apologies and my reason is that I want my child to feel empathy and remorse, not grumpily parrot some unfelt phrase to wipe the slate clean.

I don't know what I will do if my child gets to seven and doesn't routinely apologise, but I know that the routine I follow with 3/4 year olds is what professionals recommend as a way to end up with a child who feels empathy and genuinely tries to make amends as opposed to teaching them to grunt "sorry" and all will be forgiven.
My children don't "grunt" sorry. Thanks. I have taught them from a very early age that they need to apologize when they have wronged someone. I don't just tell them to say sorry and then let them run away. We have a discussion every. single. time. We discuss why what they did hurt someone, how that person might be feeling and how we can make it better. If you wrong someone you should apologize. Seems pretty straightforward to me. I am happy to report that they aren't little ingrates "grunting" apologies at people as they run by, but caring children who, at 6 and 8 year old, know how to treat other people when you do something wrong.
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