When to intervene - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been wondering lately how often and when us as parents should intervene in our toddlers/preschoolers playtime with other kids. Examples of what I'm talking about:

These are the times I intervene

*If DS (almost 3) is being rude or unkind to other kids, which doesn't happen often.
*If DS starts telling another kid to stop or he doesn't like something
*if DS starts crying because another kid is chasing him or hitting him

The only time I don't intervene really is when everyone is playing nicely. Should I back off and just let them work it out. Am I being overly protective? Also...I seem to have to intervene constantly being him and DD (almost 2). They fight constantly and I'm always playing referee.

When should I stay out of their business? When should I get involved?
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#2 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 09:15 PM
 
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If DS starts telling another kid to stop or he doesn't like something
I wouldn't get involved with this. If he's telling them that he doesn't like something, then he's handling it on his own.

At our house, I intervene when someone's being injured or children are being mean.

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#3 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 09:28 PM
 
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These are all just my opinions, of course. I'm definitely not an expert. My general rule is to intervene as little as possible because I want them to learn how to navigate social situations on their own with only gentle guidance from me.

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Originally Posted by shllywlly View Post
*If DS (almost 3) is being rude or unkind to other kids, which doesn't happen often.
Can you define what you mean here? For the most part, children sometimes express themselves in ways that sound harsh to adults, who've learned to temper themselves. I don't usually intervene, though I don't permit name-calling.

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Originally Posted by shllywlly View Post
*If DS starts telling another kid to stop or he doesn't like something
No way. He's doing a great job if he's expressing himself in this way.

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Originally Posted by shllywlly View Post
*if DS starts crying because another kid is chasing him or hitting him
If another child's hitting mine, I remove my child and usually say something to the other child (or parent, depending) about not hitting. I've only intervened on chasing once, but this kid was about 8, and DS is 3. He just kept chasing him down to make him play tag. With same-age playmates, I wouldn't do that.

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Originally Posted by shllywlly View Post
When should I stay out of their business?
If my kids are arguing, I stay out of it. Sometimes DD (19 months) will bug DS on purpose - knocking over his blocks or running her car over his coloring book while he's coloring. I usually let them talk that out. Her talking out mostly consists of "that's not nice" or "no yelling at me," but I like to let them handle it.

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Originally Posted by shllywlly View Post
When should I get involved?
If someone's getting hurt, then it's important to get involved. Also if someone's far outmatched, I will step in.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#4 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And see...under normal circumstances I agree that I shouldn't intervene. The problem I'm having with this one is the other kids never seem to listen. For instance, the other day we were at a playgroup and a little boy who is much younger than him was throwing balls and hitting him in the head. DS was telling him to stop that he didn't like that. I watched for a second and the kid did it again. Then DS picked up a ball and threw it back and yelled at him to stop it. I then walked over and said "it's not polite to throw balls. (directed at both of them). I then looked at the other little boy who is about 20 months and said, "he doesn't like it when you throw balls. please don't do it" I then walked away.

A few minutes later the kid is throwing balls at him again. This time DS didn't say anything he just started screaming at him and throwing balls back. I then told DS to just walk away and play in another area. He got really upset and started crying. He wanted to play in the ball pit and didn't understand why I didn't do more with the boy. I didn't want to say anything else to the kid because I had already said something once and his mother was right there and heard me. I didn't want to get into it with everyone.

How would you have handled this situation? BTW...this is always how it plays out. DS will act appropriately and use his words and the other kids are just asking for him to sock them which I don't want but I do want him to be able to defend himself.
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#5 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 11:16 PM
 
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Well, you have a pretty big age difference here, if you've got a 34-35 month old playing with a 20 month old. The 20 month old isn't going to be using words to solve much for a while!

What I would do is intervene when my child is getting visibly frustrated. In the ball pit example, I would go over to both boys, thank ds for using his words, and explain that the younger child looks like he didn't understand. I would then look at the thrower and say "did you hear ds? He asked you to stop. The balls hurt. Throw the balls in the pit." Instead of moving my child away, I would have parked myself in the middle of the two kids and tried to redirect both of them to doing something else with the balls.

When you've got a 2 year old (i.e. almost 3) and a 1 year old (i.e. almost 2), your life will basically revolve around keeping them from hurting each other for a while. I would be tempted to get duplicates of the favorite toys, put away things that are causing problems and spend a lot of time outdoors!

IMO, kids under 3 can't really work things out for themselves. They can follow an adult model, but as you've discovered, telling a child to stop only works if the other child listens! Often it takes an adult to mediate. Kids from 3-5 need a lot of support to do work things out, and even "older" kids (5-7) need a lot of modeling/suggestions/reinforcement.

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#6 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 11:23 PM
 
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In the sitch you described, I would have tried to get the mom involved, or at least addressed the other child again. Sometimes my DS will say stop or whatever and get ignored, and I'll repeat it for him. I was a teacher so I have "the look" and "the voice" and don't mind using them! That always seems to work. I don't think I'd make my son leave the ball pit b/c that seems like a punishment, esp after he did use his words and act appropriately. But what can you do--it's tough when you don't know the other child and it's certainly possible that the mom could have had some issue w/ it and who needs that?

I'm an intervener. My child is 3. He is verbal, but he's 3. He and the other preschoolers I observe need help and modeling in working things out. Everytime I'm somewhere w/ under 4's and a parent has a "let them work it out" philosophy, it ends in tears.
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#7 of 9 Old 08-26-2008, 12:18 AM
 
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I'm in it all the time. I believe in "letting them work it out", too. But not my toddler. My bigger kids can fight it out in the backyard following their own sense of honor (no, no...I won't let it get ridiculous), but NOT my toddler. It's not okay for my little kids to get bullied, IMO. So, I often play with the kids, and I'm at least always very near mine. I used to be more hands off, but they were getting beat up (hit, shoved down, toys yanked away), and my very verbal, very sweet, very innocent little girl was becoming very fearful. Even after I started really stepping in lots (and that was a long time ago), she's very wary of new kids. And who can blame her...she gets beat up EVERY time. It drives me crazy. A 3 year old ought to be able to meet another 3 year old at the park and have a great time, and not have to worry about being shoved off of stuff, or intentionally knocked down. Anyway, it's my personal pet peeve, and I don't tolerate violence towards the little ones. Again, bigger kids (maybe 5 and older) who are physically a little more likely to handle things themselves, I'll let it go a little longer, but NOT A TODDLER. What are they really supposed to do about it, anyway?

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#8 of 9 Old 08-26-2008, 12:26 AM
 
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Oh, and the situation in the OP, I also would have moved my child somewhere else, while explaining that the other child "doesn't understand" and that "his mama is teaching him to be nice just like I'm teaching you". "let's go play over here instead. see *this really neat thing*? I don't like to make it anybody's fault at this point. There's going to be enough finger pointing as they get older, and I really don't want to start it now. I'm also pretty big into telling my kids what they could do next time. Like, when dd got pushed off the tree stump (very forcefully...she actually went flying off, both feet off the ground, then rolled down the side of the tree...fortunately it wasn't that tall...and got scratched up pretty good), instead of blaming the other child, I encouraged mine to be friendly and forgiving, and we talked about it a good deal on the way home...about how we can choose to (we're Christian) pray for someone when they do something that hurts us, and how we can try to see where they need help instead of getting angry with them. It IS okay to be sad or angry, and we talk about that, too, but I don't want my children to get in the habit of the "angry victim" mentality. So, we talk about what we can do about it. Do I make sense, I dunno?

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#9 of 9 Old 08-26-2008, 12:53 AM
 
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It's so hard when your child does the right thing and politely asks the other child to stop or whatever, and the other child doesn't listen. You can hardly blame your child for freaking out. What I've been doing with my 3 year old is encouraging her to use her words and if that doesn't work, to walk away and find something else to do.

For example, the other day she asked her 4 year old buddy if he would let her play with a toy and he said no. She came to me for help. I said, "That's a bummer that he doesn't want to share. Let's go find something else to play with."
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