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"Mama Bear" at the playground.... I know some of you have BTDT... - Page 5  

post #81 of 95

First, I want to say that I think we can all understand the reaction. We can all get our fur up when our child is in danger and it is not always logical.

 

Second, I want to say my reply is about the OP but also the general situation...

 

There are often a lot of posts about moms of toddlers who get frustrated/angry with the "big kids" (usually about 5-7 yrs old) at the playground, museum, pool or other places with a theme of "mean" or "not sharing". To mothers of toddlers, these kids seem so big and so "kid like" and in control of themselves and their toddlers seems so small and vulnerable. It true- there *is* a lot of growing in that time. But what often does not get addressed is that 5 year olds are not really that *big*. They have not mastered the empathy thing or fully understand why you can't play tackle or rough house with a toddler like another child. They do not understand that *your* child doesn't understand taking turns and will often retaliate when they feel they have had something unjustly taken from them. They don't get that a 6 foot fall is a big deal to push someone off of, or if you pull something out from under someone they will fall. They don't understand that manipulating them in play ("YOU, toddler, go get the shovels and I'll dig!") is unethical. They don't have perfect impulse control and may still hit or kick or push or throw things on occasion. And the flip side is that mothers with toddlers have not yet had the experience that someday, their own 5 year old will most likely do something "not so nice" either. When their children are 5, they will understand that 5 is still very, very young. But they are not there yet and only see the toddler now. But I can say 5 year olds doing these things- It is part of the process, and it is part of this time of life. Most 5 year olds can act very "kid like" most of the time and from the outside it can seem like they have more self control. But there are still "bits of toddlerhood" in there and they have their moments. Do we have to like it? Of course not. But I do think we do have a responsibility to understand it if we share public kid spaces with them.

 

So, while I understand your reaction, try to put yourself as the mother of the 5 year old... (Yes, she "should have been there" and all that, but imagine your child, at age 5, did this while you were digging in your purse for your ringing cell phone or something). From your description, what you did was more than just a firm tone (or even "yell") to back off or stop. You said you "lost it on him" to the point where a bystander told you that your behavior was inappropriate. Knowing that your young child as a 5 year old would be a good person who was still learning the ropes about how we treat people, what if someone said those things to *your* child when they made a bad decision? What if your beautiful 5 year old had a lapse in judgement (as 5 year olds do and is totally developmentally appropriate) and a stranger "lost it" on him yelling to the point that made adults uncomfortable and other children cry?

 

I think it is totally OK to stop a child from hurting yours. I think even a firm tone is reasonable. But I think taking charge of your own child and moving him or leaving is your first responsibility and the next is to find the other child's mother and talk with her if it calls for more than that. 

 

I believe the "Golden Rule" applies to dealing with other people's children- Do unto them as you would hope strangers would treat your child if the situation was reversed.

 

So, while I understand that we first empathize with our own child and that our protective reflex can sometimes cloud our judgement, I think you will need to think about how you will deal with this in the future. I can give you a 100% promise that your child will be pushed, kicked, teased, denied a turn, whatever in the course of childhood (and most will just be the scrapes of life and forgotten 10 minutes later without a big deal, but they will happen). And, I can pretty much guarentee that someday, your child will be on the other end *doing* it as well (and will most likely be an innocent passing lapse of judgement or lack of understanding as they learn, but again, it will happen). This is a great opportunity to think about what lessons you want to teach your son about the words and options he has when he is in a bad spot with others, and about how you can deal with this in the future.

 

The mama bear can be a strong, powerful force that in some cases, keeps our babies alive and we women and mothers can and should be proud of ourselves for our fierce protection of our children. Truly, the mama bear urges are a gift we have of a force greater than ourselves at times. I know for myself, if my child were in serious and/or intentional danger, only G-d would be able to stop me. But it must be harnessed. The mama bear off-leash can be destructive. Counter-productive. Be proud of your mama bear. But make sure she is pointed in the right direction. A 5 year old does not need (or deserve) the mama bear. He might awaken her out of instict, but then you gotta put the clamp on her and look for other tools. Save the mama bear for when you really need her. Letting the mama bear out of her cage is a last resort, not a first line of defense.

 

And, for the record, I consider myself a GD mom and sometimes I yell. Like another person said, there is a difference between "loud" and "cruel". GD does not mean that we are always perfect pictures of zen parenting. It means that we can be ourselves (even in anger and frustration) without the cruelty and power and that we try to see these mistakes as chances to grow. I know in my case, that is not always a quiet or peaceful process! In our house, we are ethnic, loud, and deep in the trenches of living life. GD is not about giving up yourself or your own emotions or hiding how you feel. It is about communicating and responding in ways that understand that children are people too.

 

Also for the record, I currently have a 6 year old AND a 2 year old and sometimes, the mama bear can be in conflict with herself! My 6 year old did some minor "not nice" thing to the toddler, and I remember my mother scolding my 6 year old and my mama bear fur got twisted two ways! My toddler could be hurt! Don't talk to my 6 year old that way! Ha!

post #82 of 95
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post #83 of 95

Great post, Alexsam! My baby girl is only 2.5....and busts the scales and height charts at the docs office. Everyone thinks she is 3.5-4 years old. She also has really great language skills...so when people see her with her binky or acting "two-ish" they give looks, like I've got an out of control 4 year old on my hands! HA, whatever! She's also the oldest kid in a really awesome mom's group I we have been going to for a long time. When she hit about 19 months and started doing the biting and pushing when she was frustrated thing, it was SO awful. I felt so bad, because none of the other kids were doing that, they were still super sweet little toddling one year olds. Well, fast forward a few months and the other kids started hitting that phase Avery had been in, just as she was leaving it and using her words and being really loving and nurturing with the little kids! HA! Now my son is almost 15 mos and he's starting to pull the hair of kids with long locks! Yikes! So, yeah, it's important to realize that early childhood is a series of phases...if you see a kid in a phase you think is terrible...reserve judgment and wait for it, because chances are, at some point, your kid is going to do it too. That being said......

 

 

I think it's really easy to sit in your house at your computer and think about the BEST possible scenario...but when you're at the park, this kid has been climbing over your kid a couple of times and so, you're already agitated and then, on his last trip up -------> he turns around and puts his boot in your kids face to knock him down the ladder <----- I don't care who you are, even if only for a moment, the rule book goes out the window. Seriously, sit and imagine that, your toddler, struggling to hold on to a ladder as a bigger kid stands at the top with his boot in your kids face. It's making me feel crazy to think about that and I wasn't even there. I'm feeling an actual physical reaction to the mere image in my mind.

 

 

So, yeah. The proper thing to do, if we're writing an essay about it after the fact, is to ask him firmly to stop, run and get your child immediately and look for the other parent so they can handle the discipline, whatever they decide that should be. In that moment though, when you are reacting to the possibility of your child falling backwards to the ground....man, it would take everything in me not to tear into the kid like a freight train. That's just me being honest.

 

I believe in and practice GD in my home. But when I see my kid getting hurt, I turn into a freakin' psychopath. It's not something that happens in my mind...it's a chemical/biological/physical reaction.

post #84 of 95

First of all, five years old is certainly old enough to know that you do not push another child's face with your foot!

 

Second, I don't think you did anything wrong.  Sometimes urgency is called for; he could have seriously hurt your DS.

 

Last spring I was at the playground with DD and an older child kept stealing her toy.  Finally DD got so frustrated she started to cry.  I was so angry!  I went over to that child and said something absolutely horrible to him and made him cry.  Not my finest moment AND a good example of how NOT to react when MamaBear comes out of hibernation.

post #85 of 95

I would have yelled at the kid too. Honestly in that situation I wouldn't be thinking about the "right" thing to do, I would just want to get the other kid off my child and make darn sure they knew that they had better not touch my child in that way again. But then I don't subscribe to the "children should never be made to feel bad or ashamed of their actions even when they are hurting another person" theory. That's just me.

 

If I was the person on the ladder, and someone of any age was pushing their foot in my face trying to knock me off from a height where I was likely to get hurt, I wouldn't be saying, "I don't want to destroy your fragile psyche but do you think you could please get your foot off of my face so I don't fall and break an arm?"

post #86 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamashtu View Post

First of all, five years old is certainly old enough to know that you do not push another child's face with your foot!

 

Second, I don't think you did anything wrong.  Sometimes urgency is called for; he could have seriously hurt your DS.

 

Last spring I was at the playground with DD and an older child kept stealing her toy.  Finally DD got so frustrated she started to cry.  I was so angry!  I went over to that child and said something absolutely horrible to him and made him cry.  Not my finest moment AND a good example of how NOT to react when MamaBear comes out of hibernation.


Yes, urgency was called for.  Urgency as in ACTION - removing the child in danger from the dangerous situation.  Screaming, yelling, losing it doesn't remove the child from the dangerous situation, it just scares them more.  When my mama bear comes out, I don't yell and I don't scream - I MOVE.  It happened a while back in a parking lot, my friend and I were walking our kids to her car and they were close to us, but not close enough.  I saw another car coming and I RUSHED the kids - to make sure the driver knew all of us were there, and to get the HELL out of the way.  Screaming doesn't help.  Screaming scares the crap out of people, DOING something is what makes people safe or doesn't.

 

5years is old enough to know, but not old enough to do it perfectly each and every time.  Honestly, I probably would have been annoyed as heck if there was some slow kid taking all the time on the ladder.

 

Also, I don't really blame the other mother for not showing up - she was probably afraid her head was going to come off!

post #87 of 95

"I think maybe it was a good thing to show that girl what my visceral reaction was.  My guess is that she had been told many times not to, and probably yelled at and punished and maybe even hit, over biting, but there was something very honest and immediate about my reaction that I'm sure she didn't miss.  My reaction wasn't punishing or mean or belittling of her, but it did make clear how her biting made me feel.  So who knows, maybe it gave her a reason not to keep biting or maybe it didn't.  But I think it was okay in the end."

 

I've gone through a couple of times with my own kids (as in, one of them crossing the line of safety with another one). I'm absolutely convinced that it's good thing for both the aggressor and victim to see my unedited emotional reaction. It puts the incident out of the realm of typical crime-and-punishment daily stuff and into the realm of the Really Big Deal. 

post #88 of 95
Thread Starter 

SuperSingleMama, I totally agree. Of course, in hindsight (and really, before too) I would have much preferred to act rather than yell. I'm just having a hard time reprogramming myself (and wasn't really aware that I needed to, before this happened, b/c I never could have predicted it) to act instead of yell first. Or better yet, think first!

 

And then I read posts like Smithie's (and others'), and think about the time (yes, it has only happened once) that DS ran from me in a parking lot. I yelled. I grabbed him by the hand and didn't let go. It hurt him, b/c he was still pulling away with all his strength. And once I got him to the car and managed to get him strapped into his seat, he stopped to look at my face and I could see that he saw how scared I was. THAT freaked him out. And then we talked about how scary that was for both of us and why he should never, ever do that again. And he hasn't. So while I hate that I yelled, especially at someone else's kid, I hate even more that the yelling is what seems to get the point across better than anything else. Of course I had talked to DS (every time we're in a parking lot) about safety and why we need to hold hands. But he didn't get it til he got yelled at.

 

I really appreciate all the responses to this thread, b/c they confirm what I suspected after this happened, and give me lots to think about, every time I see there's an update here. I know some of you think I'm a horrible person for mistreating an innocent child, and some of you wholeheartedly support my reaction (just as the one mom at the playground who saw it did), and I'm truly grateful for getting to read both sides, b/c that's pretty much what I expected to see, and it's how I feel about it, too. (Yes, believe it or not, I did feel awful about it, and was actually kind of glad the guy said what he said, even though in the moment I was not all that appreciative. It gave me a different perspective, and while I felt justified in doing whatever I needed to do to keep my boy safe, it reminded me that maybe I could have been just as effective in doing it another way.)

post #89 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

SuperSingleMama, I totally agree. Of course, in hindsight (and really, before too) I would have much preferred to act rather than yell. I'm just having a hard time reprogramming myself (and wasn't really aware that I needed to, before this happened, b/c I never could have predicted it) to act instead of yell first. Or better yet, think first!

 

And then I read posts like Smithie's (and others'), and think about the time (yes, it has only happened once) that DS ran from me in a parking lot. I yelled. I grabbed him by the hand and didn't let go. It hurt him, b/c he was still pulling away with all his strength. And once I got him to the car and managed to get him strapped into his seat, he stopped to look at my face and I could see that he saw how scared I was. THAT freaked him out. And then we talked about how scary that was for both of us and why he should never, ever do that again. And he hasn't. So while I hate that I yelled, especially at someone else's kid, I hate even more that the yelling is what seems to get the point across better than anything else. Of course I had talked to DS (every time we're in a parking lot) about safety and why we need to hold hands. But he didn't get it til he got yelled at.

 

I really appreciate all the responses to this thread, b/c they confirm what I suspected after this happened, and give me lots to think about, every time I see there's an update here. I know some of you think I'm a horrible person for mistreating an innocent child, and some of you wholeheartedly support my reaction (just as the one mom at the playground who saw it did), and I'm truly grateful for getting to read both sides, b/c that's pretty much what I expected to see, and it's how I feel about it, too. (Yes, believe it or not, I did feel awful about it, and was actually kind of glad the guy said what he said, even though in the moment I was not all that appreciative. It gave me a different perspective, and while I felt justified in doing whatever I needed to do to keep my boy safe, it reminded me that maybe I could have been just as effective in doing it another way.)


My child runs from me daily.  In parking lots, stores, sidewalks, school - he doesn't stay with me EVER.  He's a runner, always will be.  My reaction is to keep him safe, not to scare the crap out of him.  He thinks its funny when I get scared.

 

I'm also not really sure how what you did kept your boy safe?  I think its more likely that screaming like that would cause the child to lose his balance and then REALLY kick your child off the ladder, or fall down on top of him.  It just doesn't make sense that keeping a child safe requires screaming at the top of your lungs when you are within arms reach?

 

ETA - didn't you also say that before you resorted to screaming your head off you firmly asking the other child to stop?  Why weren't you calmly moving toward your son while saying that and then when the other child didn't listen remove your child from the ladder?  You DID have time to think - you just didn't.  Your first instinct wasn't to scream your head off, it was your second.  Your first instinct should have been to remove your child while firmly telling the older child not to behave that way.  That does 2 things - removes the younger, more vulnerable child, from the dangerous situation, and lets the older child know that what they are doing is inappropriate. 

post #90 of 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

My child runs from me daily.  In parking lots, stores, sidewalks, school - he doesn't stay with me EVER.  He's a runner, always will be.  My reaction is to keep him safe, not to scare the crap out of him.  He thinks its funny when I get scared.

 

I'm also not really sure how what you did kept your boy safe?  I think its more likely that screaming like that would cause the child to lose his balance and then REALLY kick your child off the ladder, or fall down on top of him.  It just doesn't make sense that keeping a child safe requires screaming at the top of your lungs when you are within arms reach?

 

ETA - didn't you also say that before you resorted to screaming your head off you firmly asking the other child to stop?  Why weren't you calmly moving toward your son while saying that and then when the other child didn't listen remove your child from the ladder?  You DID have time to think - you just didn't.  Your first instinct wasn't to scream your head off, it was your second.  Your first instinct should have been to remove your child while firmly telling the older child not to behave that way.  That does 2 things - removes the younger, more vulnerable child, from the dangerous situation, and lets the older child know that what they are doing is inappropriate. 


I don't know...  I think yelling could be a good thing in some situations with some children.  I think the parking lot situation is one where some fear is warranted and if her yelling communicated to him that it was a serious situation in which it was not okay to run off, then I'm all for that.  I don't think yelling in that kind of a situation is going to damage a kid.  I think it's much better than most of the yelling that I hear when I 'm out and the yelling that my mother did when I was a kid which was mostly about shaming and disapproving in leu of real parenting.  

 

BTW, it seems like you're kinda coming down on the OP pretty hard.  It's great that she thinking about what happened and asking for opinions and it will probably have an impact on how she acts next time.  I don't see why you'd jump on her for that even if you *really* don't think she should have yelled at this particular child.

post #91 of 95

I don't think anyone was, "Oh yeah OP, good for you for slapping down the tyrannical 5 yo's of the world! Keep it up!"

 

I understood it as most people that agreed with her were saying, "Yeah, there might have been better ways to handle it but it that split moment when you think your kid is going to get hurt it's a natural reaction for some." GD is a lifestyle, not something that you impose here or there once in a while. Look at how many mom's post in the GD forum wondering why GD isn't working for their kid at that moment!

post #92 of 95

I think it's understandable, but screaming (beyond yelling) and screaming something like "what's wrong with you" seem not compatible wtih GD, regardless of whose child it is.  But it sounds like the OP knows that and was looking for some perspective about how to handle this if it every happens again (and something negative with someone's child will), so I dont' think it's anything to come down on her about.  Doing something less than ideal and looking for ideas of how to do better next time is nothing to come down on someone about.  I get where she's coming from.  5-year-olds look really big when you have a toddler, and particularly when one is hurting your toddler.  It's hard to think of them as little kids themselves, and to think through just what to say, and while I don't think her reaction was great, i don't think this kid is going to be permanently scarred by some stranger at the park.  And I think it was good of her to come here and think things through more.

post #93 of 95
Thread Starter 

FTR, I was not the one screaming "what's wrong with you" -- my words were all in line with telling him he needed to stop that NOW and never do it again.

As for starting firmly and going to yelling, yeah, it escalated. I tried my best to stay calm. When I first saw the shoe on his face, I panicked a little and then managed to just SAY firmly, "Hey!" And then the force started where he looked me right in the face and shoved his foot downward. That is when I lost it. It was like it escalated so fast I didn't have time to think a second time to really reign in any emotions or actions. It all just spilled out.

 

And for those who are strongly disagreeing with my reaction, no, I agree it's not GD. And I do strive for GD practices every day. But it obviously doesn't come as naturally to me as it does to lots of other mamas here, and I'm trying. If you had asked me before this happened, "What would you do in this scenario?" I would not have said that I would yell so loudly that it scared not only the kid pushing, but my own kid too. Really.

post #94 of 95



That was me, and if you were to re-read what I wrote, it does not say I screamed or yelled it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

I think it's understandable, but screaming (beyond yelling) and screaming something like "what's wrong with you" seem not compatible wtih GD, regardless of whose child it is.   



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by swd12422 View Post

FTR, I was not the one screaming "what's wrong with you" -- 

 

post #95 of 95

I have closed this thread to further discussion due to the fact that it has run it's course and has veered away from it's original intent.  Thanks for your understanding.

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