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Another mama's gentle discipline is affecting my kiddo--WWYD

post #1 of 228
Thread Starter 
I live in a close-knit condo community, and the kids play together pretty well overall. However, one child tends to target my kiddo--he's 2 1/2 and my DD is almost 3, so there's naturally a little tension at those ages. His mama practices gentle discipline (as do I), but I feel she takes the GD too far and it ends up really affecting my child.

For example, today they were playing and my DD dropped her toy as she ran to the potty. The little boy picked it up, and then she got hysterical about it when she returned. I explained to him that it's her favorite toy (she carries it around like it's a doll) and asked if he would give it back to her. He refused, so his mama tried to get him to give it to her but he still refused. My DD is sitting there hysterical, begging me incoherently to get it back from him. And the mama is explaining to the little boy "look at how upset she is...it sounds like she's trying to tell you that she really wants her toy back...wow, she's really upset."

When that didn't work, the mama asked my DD if she would leave the toy with her son for the afternoon because "look at how much it means to him." My DD is so hysterical at this point that she's red in the face and stuffing her fist in her mouth. And I'm telling the mama that it's not a good idea, that it seems like my DD is indicating that it's too important of a toy to her. But the mama continued imploring my DD to have empathy for her son and to look at how important it seems to him and would my DD be willing to leave it with him. This went on and on and on.

Now, I'm all for GD, I worship Alfie Kohn. But, this seemed like taking it too far to me--I can't wrap my mind around how trying to deal with him gently at all costs while another child is getting more and more hysterical could be appropriate GD.

So, my question is, was this an appropriate way to handle the situation? What should I have done here? This isn't the first time this has happened and probably won't be the last, so I really need a strategy for dealing with this stuff.
post #2 of 228
I might have stuck my hand out and asked the child to give it to me.

I've had parents do a version of that to me. Their kid comes and yanks something from mine and the parent is all, "Yes, let's take turns. Monkey you can have a turn after Little Timmy is done."

Uh. No. Monkey was clearly in the middle of his turn and he'll be sure to let Timmy know when he's ready to switch it up.
post #3 of 228
I'm not the gentelest, but once my dc got more hysterical i would have just told the mother i need the toy back now, we are going home, picked up my dc and held my hand out for the toy.
post #4 of 228
(sorry-I got long winded)

I think that you should have said to the mom and the baby, " that is DD's toy, one that I do not require she share, please return it." If the child is to young to do it himself, I would then tell mom to take it from her child, or I would.

They are children. IMO, it is the parental responsibility to teach their child appropriate actions and reasoning with a child that cannot be expected developmentally to reason, is an waste of time, effort and breath.

I think that some parents (and from your description-your neighbor) forget that Gentle Discipline means Gently TEACH. That includes teaching appropriate behavior. Returning a special toy is something that this mom should be teaching sometimes that includes showing their child that the toy they have MUST be returned immediately. Just as your child couldn't understand why she wasn't getting her toy back, her child couldn't understand it either.

This is why I feel that you should be able and comfortable in saying please return the toy and you shouldn't feel bad about telling the mom that she needs to return the toy IMMEDIATELY to your child. She would probably expect, if the tables were turned, for your child to immediately return her child's prized possession.

I also think that it's absurd for her to see your child getting hysterical and still ask to keep the toy for the afternoon.

I don't know how you kept a straight face. I would have laughed and told her there was no way you would listen to your child/put your child through this over her toy.

After this it may be wise while playing with them to help your daughter leave her favorite item away from other kids, until she is able to more easily share the item. Avoid the situation, you know.
post #5 of 228

bs"d

Well, I'm no Alfie Kohn devotee, but when it was time to go home, I would have just taken the toy. I may have given the mother a minute to try to get it from him her way, but after that I would have just said, "It's time for us to go, so we need this. It belongs to X. Thanks! We'll play together another time. Bye!" I would stop bringing toys to this boy's house if he will not/cannot be convinced return others' things, or only bring toys that you are willing to share or leave there.
post #6 of 228
Quote:
Originally Posted by wonderwahine View Post
I'm not the gentelest, but once my dc got more hysterical i would have just told the mother i need the toy back now, we are going home, picked up my dc and held my hand out for the toy.
This, exactly.
post #7 of 228
From what you say I'm assuming this toy is some sort of comfort toy for your DD?

If that is the case I think the other mother handled this horribly. DS has a comfort doll called Sam and if another child took it I would say straight out that it was a special toy for DS and hold out my hand. If the other child didn't give it back I would gently take it out of their hands and give it to my DS.

As for her DS, seems to me is all she taught him there was "if you take something that you want, that doesn't belong to you, and then you yell and scream enough I'll let you keep it".
post #8 of 228
Thread Starter 
Yes, I definitely did ask him to return the toy. I stuck out my hand, asked him to give it back, and explained why it was so important (because it was so special to her). When that didn't work, his mama took over with her approach.

I was so rattled by the absurdity of the whole thing, that I think I couldn't quite believe it was all happening. It sounds like I need to get more mama bear (both with him and his own mama) the next time.
post #9 of 228
I think both you and the other mom started out just fine. But when he didn't give up the toy after a few minutes, and she was getting upset, it was time to simply say "OK, give the toy back now" and, if necessary, yank it out of his hands (only if he didn't return it when directly told, not asked, to do so.)

I also think you should talk to the other mama at a calm moment and explain how important this toy is to DD and how you expect her to respond if this happens again.

Just curious- how was this conflict eventually resolved?
post #10 of 228
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
I think both you and the other mom started out just fine. But when he didn't give up the toy after a few minutes, and she was getting upset, it was time to simply say "OK, give the toy back now" and, if necessary, yank it out of his hands (only if he didn't return it when directly told, not asked, to do so.)
Really? You would forcibly remove it from him? I've been really uncomfortable with that, especially with her sitting right there.

This happens to us a lot with them. You guys are really helping me.
post #11 of 228
Quote:
Originally Posted by rzberrymom View Post
Really? You would forcibly remove it from him? I've been really uncomfortable with that, especially with her sitting right there.

This happens to us a lot with them. You guys are really helping me.
after your 2nd post i would tottaly remove it
post #12 of 228
Quote:
Originally Posted by rzberrymom View Post
Really? You would forcibly remove it from him? I've been really uncomfortable with that, especially with her sitting right there.

This happens to us a lot with them. You guys are really helping me.
I would be uncomfortable with that, too.

Honestly, we've just gotten to the point where my kids end up not wanting to be around those kids, and I don't want to be around those kids, and so we just decide to stop being around those kids.
post #13 of 228
Quote:
Originally Posted by rzberrymom View Post
Really? You would forcibly remove it from him? I've been really uncomfortable with that, especially with her sitting right there.

This happens to us a lot with them. You guys are really helping me.
The thing is though, you don't need to rip it out of his hands, just *firmly* remove it. I know that it would be uncomfortable with his mother there, but in all honesty she should have done it when she saw how upset your daughter was getting! He's only two and a half for goodness sake! I know my DS is pretty on to it - he seems to be developing alot of empathy and understanding in situations like this, but when it comes down to it they're still only little and there's only so much reasoning you can do with them!
post #14 of 228
OK, maybe "yank it out of his hands" is stronger language than I meant. It's the "mama bear" talking. I'd take it out firmly but respectfully- otherwise it's not respectful to the first child.

If telling him to give the toy back didn't work, and my child was getting hysterical- then the other child needs to understand that the toy isnt' his and he can't keep it. How can he be made to understand? When he's 3 years old and doesn't have a full grasp of language? He learns by actions. It's not his toy, he doesn't get to keep on holding it.

I'd probably try to trade a different toy for that one, if possible- but if he wouldn't accept the trade, then I'd take it. It's called being fair. He's holding a toy that isn't his, it gets taken away and maybe he cries. What's the alternative? DD punished for dropping her toy on the way to the potty? So she should want to use diapers now so she won't have to let go of her toy while being changed?

Tell me how letting him continue to hold the toy is fair to either child.
post #15 of 228
I'm actually a little confused here, he didn't take it from her, right? He picked it up when she dropped it on the way to the bathroom, and beeing only 2.5 he probably didn't understand why this particular toy would have different rules than any other toy. I think it was strange that the other mother tried to convince your child to let him have it for the afternoon, that was wierd, but I also don't think it would've been right to take it from the boy unless you were about to go home. And even then I would leave it up to the mom, telling her that we need to go and the toy must come home with us. In the future I would talk to dd about not bringing any toys she's not willing to share. That's what I always do with both my boys, cuz if you put a toy down and leave it (even on accident) it's fair game, kwim?
post #16 of 228
I've stopped hanging out with kids like this too... not a great solution but the best I've had so far, as I've kind of chickened out of talking honestly with other mama friends about their parenting. It's such a personal subject, but OTOH I abhor that kind of behaviour and ineffective parenting.
post #17 of 228
I'm curious where you were playing - his house, your house or a community area? We really try not to bring toys places that we don't need toys. If DS needs to bring something with him, I always ask him if he'd like to leave it in the car (maybe even "to keep it safe") and he almost always agrees. It's just easier not to deal with ownership issues if you don't have to.

That said, clearly the boy didn't do anything wrong by picking up the toy. Upon your dd returning from the potty, it might have been helpful to say, "DD is back, it's time to return the toy," or something like that, hopefully before she could freak out.

If I were the boy's mother, I would have offered him a trade, and then taken it if he refused the trade. I absolutely do not think the mother in your story handled it appropriately, especially asking your dd to let him KEEP IT after she was so upset.

In your position, I agree with the others - pack up and let the mom know you need the toy now. The play time was probably ruined anyway since she got so upset.
post #18 of 228
Am I reading this wrong? Your DD dropped the toy, right? And then he picked it up? While I think that other Mama is insane to think your dd should let him use it for the afternoon, I also think it's unfair to expect the boy to know there are special rules attached to that one toy.

My DS had a comfort stuffed puppy and we simply could not take it anywhere another child might touch it. My son would get so upset, and other kids couldn't understand why puppy was different from the other toys.

While that other mama was certainly "out there" with her handling, I also think it must have been very confusing for her child as well. With that age group, I'd refrain from bringing any special toys, etc to play with. But then again, at that age my kid didn't play well with others, so we rarely had playdates.

Sorry your little one got so upset.
post #19 of 228
While I understand that your child dropped the toy to go potty and the other child probably didn't understand the significance, I also believe that the other mom could easily understand the significance, and I am in agreement that if the mom couldn't get the toy from her child in a reasonably brief time period, as your child got more and more hysterical, I would also be comfortable in saying to the other mom something like, "I'm going to gently take the toy from him and put it away" and then do just that - gently unwrap his hand from it while empathizing with him, something like, "this is a really cool toy, I know - it's really special to DD so I'm going to put it away so we don't have any more hurt feelings and you can play together with other things". And then take my child aside and calm them down and talk for a couple minutes about putting it away for the rest of the play date.

And I agree with another PP, this is why I don't let my kiddos bring prized possessions to playgroups, and/or put them away before friends come over - or, they bring them but leave them in the car or have them in my bag so they can come and check in with them, but I really discourage them from bringing them out at playgroups for exactly this reason. I know, hindsight is 20/20 and I'm not trying to make you feel badly, but in the future I'd probably explain to her that prized possessions should stay in the car or your bag at playgroups, and remind her of this incident as a good reason why.

So yeah - the other mom didn't handle it well IMO.
post #20 of 228
Quote:
Originally Posted by mistymama View Post
Am I reading this wrong? Your DD dropped the toy, right? And then he picked it up? While I think that other Mama is insane to think your dd should let him use it for the afternoon, I also think it's unfair to expect the boy to know there are special rules attached to that one toy.

My DS had a comfort stuffed puppy and we simply could not take it anywhere another child might touch it. My son would get so upset, and other kids couldn't understand why puppy was different from the other toys.

While that other mama was certainly "out there" with her handling, I also think it must have been very confusing for her child as well. With that age group, I'd refrain from bringing any special toys, etc to play with. But then again, at that age my kid didn't play well with others, so we rarely had playdates.

Sorry your little one got so upset.
I agree with this.

For future playdates if this is a toy that your dd needs to bring with her I'd be on my toes for when she drops it and I'd go pick it up before it became an issue.

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