I'm that annoying mom!Reading this thread I started to wonder if I might be the mom that was being bashed. Eventually I read that the 15 minutes of waiting included two songs. Phew! Not me! Not a singer, at least not a singer in public.
Actually, I don't recall Simon ever taking that long to return an item. He isn't much of a snatcher and if he has taken something, getting it back from him -- if I felt that was important -- has not been much of an issue and has not taken long (if I remember correctly). I just thought I might be the mom as who knows, maybe what felt like a few minutes to me was actually 15, or maybe it just felt like 15 to the other mom. I know that 5 minutes of a stressful situation with Simon can feel a lot longer than that.
I'm not sure what to say to this thread. I take the grabbing of toys much more lightly than most of the posters here seem to do. I certainly don't jump into heavy ethical terms when thinking about what I'd do if I were in either of the two main positions being discussed (i.e., the mom of the grabber and the mom of the child whose toy had been grabbed. "Victim" seems a really loaded take on the situation, imo. Doing without one's toy for 15 minutes hardly makes one a victim, at least in my books. I think children are extremely perceptive. If a child senses that mom's blood is boiling and mom thinks a major and very threatening injustice has transpired, her child is apt to pick up on that and respond with like intensity. A study of mom and baby combos listening to music and getting the same pleasure and tense sensations at the same times is coming to mind though I can't remember the details at the moment.
If a child yanked one of Simon's toys and he got really upset about it, I think I'd be focused primarily on comforting him until the biggest emotions were out (which tends to take a maximum of a few minutes, especially if he wants to nurse in some calming hormones). Of course I'd first say that Simon did not want to share the toy and could he please have it back. If this wasn't successful, we might even walk away for a minute as I wouldn't be comfortable saying some of what I'd be likely to say in front of the grabbing child. E.g., I can imagine saying (after the biggest emotions were out), "He took your toy from your hands! You are angry and upset about that. That was a rude thing to do!!! (A judgment there; I'm philosophically thinking I shouldn't judge (har har) but this is what first comes to mind. I imagine I'd also correct myself and say: "I don't think he meant to be rude. He just thought your toy was so cool he couldn't resist it.") We'll get your toy back soon. He won't leave with it. He loves your toy and he's having a hard time giving it back to you. Giving up such a cool toy is hard to do." I think some space would help Simon cope with the upset. I can't at all fathom him being upset for 15 minutes over the toy though. If Simon didn't want to have some space from his toy, I'm sure he'd make that very clear to me and we'd find another way to cope until it was returned.
If Simon were the grabber, I can't imagine it taking that long, but if he were tired or whatnot that is a possibility. I might gauge the situation and how he's feeling. If a very small amount of pressure would help me to get the item from his hand and for us to move on, I may do that. I'm talking really small here... like his grip would be so loose that he wouldn't do anything to protest my taking it. If I were to resort to grabbing it from him, or prying it from his hands, that would feel completely wrong to me. If I did that as a result of pressure from the other mother, I'd feel ashamed of myself for not sticking to my values and finding an agreeable solution.
I'm not seeing why waiting 15 minutes is a huge deal, which is not to say that I feel this type of situation often takes anywhere near that long to be resolved. I feel as though there is a way for the child whose toy was grabbed to be comforted so that the upset doesn't escalate to great heights. The child didn't run off to the hills with the toy afterall. I'm thinking that once his upset passed, Simon might find the exchange interesting. I'll turn the tables a bit. For those who have waited 15 minutes for a child to return a toy (or seen this situation carried out), has the child from whom it was grabbed actually been really upset the entire time this has happened? If so, what was done to help the child to cope with the situation? Might something else have been more effective at calming the child?
You might respond that your life is busy and you just have to leave at that moment. I get that but don't see it as justifying a need to yank the toy away from my son. Simon gets it when someone is leaving. A toy he might otherwise cling to (e.g., if the owner of it weren't around and not showing interest in it) would be swiftly let go of if the parent or child announced that they were about to leave the park, so they need their toy back (I hope they'd announce this politely!). This has happened a handful of times at the beach. So... my experiences don't jive with those of some of the other posters who are saying it's o.k. to grab back the toy in this situation. If you were in a big rush and he still needed a few minutes, I still doubt that I would forcibly take it from him, but I just don't see him not being agreeable about giving it back. With toddlers it's a good idea to budget extra time for contingencies if at all possible.
Might it be excessively permissive or non-involved parents whose children are apt to cling, cling, cling, cling even when all of the cues in the environment are showing that letting go of the toy is pretty important? The cell-phone mom certainly sounds like she might be a candidate for this category. My mom hated to see us upset and we'd go through some outlandish scenes because of this -- and because she did nothing to prepare us for the upsets as she was usually too busy for us. So I can somewhat imagine a dynamic with that type of caregivers leading to such a nonreasonable response from a child. And, as others have mentioned, when children are so young that they aren't apt to get the reasons, they can be easily distracted in other ways or wouldn't have to be distracted as it wouldn't be long before they'd be ready to move onto something else anyway.
I'll agree that in some extremely rare situations prying a toy might be the best of rotten alternatives, but these would be extremely rare (there are better alternatives if we have the time to find them). Perhaps the child is not agreeing to let go of the item despite having the information that its the other child's and that child has to catch a plane that is currently boarding. It seems to me though that a child who is used to finding mutually agreeable solutions and considering others needs would not refuse to give the toy back (unless perhaps under an undue amount of stress or otherwise not having her or his needs met).
I agree with the assessment that it seems a bit materialistic to get so upset over a child grabbing and having fun with an item for 15 minutes or whatever. The item is not being threatened -- no one said that the grabber was bashing a beloved porcelean doll into the ground. I do see the situation as a lot like sharing. The child doesn't want to share her toy. I think that if asked, she should have every right to say so and to prevent a child from taking it. If a chlid takes it anyway, I think the next step is damage control -- to get the toy back to the non-sharer, or perhaps see if she'll change her mind about sharing it -- in a way that is peaceful and respectful to everyone involved. Even if it is thought that the grabber wasn't respectful to the grabbed-from, I don't see grabbing the item back from him/her or physically prying it away as peaceful or respectful solutions.
There is a lot of talk in this thread about learning lessons. What is a child learning from this experience? Well, if I do x, what lesson will that teach!? I find that when I've started to think in this way, I've become more stern and far less effective. I have far more success, and avoid some pretty foul moods, if I focus instead on the here and now. Simon is whining. Ouch that hurts my ears. What unmet need might he be experiencing that is coming off in that way? What is he feeling right now? Thinking along those lines leads to a more productive result than: "OMG! I can't stand this. He needs to learn to ask for things, with words! Simon, please use your words! Please ask to be picked up rather than whine like that. [At which point he gets upset since he was clearly upset and off-kilter to begin with.] Yada yada. That example is a bit dated. It's from when he was maybe 14 months old or something like that (at least old enough to know "up"). It sticks in my mind though as I started to think in terms of teaching him lessons and his whining escalated to new heights. When I got over that issue and just tended to his needs, things calmed quickly and the huge issue of his whining completely faded. He sometimes whines now, and I still don't like it, but it's not a big issue. I feel that if I kept trying to teach him the "right lessons" about whining, it would have become an issue and would have damaged our relationship in the process.