How to deal with a friend disciplining my child *Update in OP* - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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****Update*** Thank you for your responses. I did get a few of them here that really helped. I am unsubscribing now because I hope the issue has been resolved. I spoke with my friend and told her that I felt badly that I had put her into situations where she felt that she needed to discipline my son. I also told her that I felt bad that her daughter was being hurt or picked on and that it seems like the age differences between the kids are not very conducive to playdates. I informed her that from now on, we should try to schedule outings where we are actively engaged with the kids and not just hanging out at each other's houses while they play on the floor, etc. She understood, was not angry, but was saddened and said that this felt like it was limiting our friendship.



Here's the backstory:

I have a 3 1/2 year old boy, VERY active, aggressive, energetic and strong willed. love him so much lol. My very good friend has a 20 month old little girl who is often timid, quiet, peaceful, etc. In the past, I have tried making friends with other moms who have boys because I often feel like my child's energy and demeanor is really misunderstood among mothers of girls. However, it looks like I keep attracting friends with daughters.

Anyway, the problem here is that any scuffle that happens between my son and her daughter turns into her disciplining him. She almost always forces him to apologize (a practice we don't believe in.) Most recently, she told me that she found a way to get him to listen to her and do what she asks--by telling him "I'm going to go tell your mom!" A lot of this happens when I'm just out of earshot or not in the immediate room or am engaged in something else and can't get to the situation in time. Her and I have talked in general about how it's an interesting idea to let children work things out before immediately stepping in and fixing things for them, but she is obviously very protective of her daughter since she's much smaller, younger, etc.

I'm kind of at a loss at what to do and hope this difference in parenting styles won't equate to us having to spend less time together.

Any ideas?

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#2 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 02:51 PM
 
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I totally understand her protectiveness. You should do all you can to keep her baby safe as well. That way you can head off any problems.

I would absolutely step in and let her know that you don't force apologies. They are insincere anyway. He isn't even quite four years old yet, so he doesn't need to be told how he feels.

As for the "I'm going to tell your mom" threat.. just ask her to stop threatening him. The two of you can work something out that works for everybody, and if you are both consistant, he will eventually stop hurting the baby.

Remember, babies can be a little annoying to a three year old. He has every right to feel mad at her... it's just not O.K to hurt her.
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#3 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 02:55 PM
 
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This is one of the those places where you can completely avoid situations where she needs to step in -- you need to be constantly aware of where your son is and what he is doing. You need to NOT be out of earshot or so far away that you can't intervene before she does. You won't be able to relax and enjoy time "off duty" when you are together, unfortunately.

I would tell her that you are making a firm commitment to be vigilent and intervene quickly when things get to a point where the little girl could be overwhelmed by his energy, and in exchange you would like her commitment not to intervene before you have an opportunity to do so.
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#4 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You won't be able to relax and enjoy time "off duty" when you are together, unfortunately.
This is, obviously, the sad part about the situation. Why make friends when you can't relax on the couch with a cup of coffee while the kids play? We are both never without our children either.

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#5 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:07 PM
 
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You're going to have to adjust your expectations. It's a season in your life, no, you will not be able to sit and relax on the couch with a cup of coffee while the children play in another room. Accept it, and find things you can do while you watch the children. That doesn't mean you can't have friends, it just means your parenting comes before your relaxing and chatting.

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#6 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:10 PM
 
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Well honestly I can see her concern if her wee one is only 20 months old and you yourself said your son was "VERY active, aggressive, energetic and strong willed". Perhaps if you were there with him at all times and keep him within arms reach basically until everyone is comfortable that he has some understanding of his actions (which unfortunately may be awhile, sorry!! ) she wouldn't feel the need to step in?

I know it can be hard. I have a DS who was the quiet type and it was hard for me to have friends for coffee if their child was rambunctious and aggressive. It was too much for DS and just not worth trying until he got older in my case. We had to be careful about his friend selection.

I hope this works out mama.
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#7 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You're going to have to adjust your expectations. It's a season in your life, no, you will not be able to sit and relax on the couch with a cup of coffee while the children play in another room. Accept it, and find things you can do while you watch the children. That doesn't mean you can't have friends, it just means your parenting comes before your relaxing and chatting.
Right, so it sounds like what I'll have to do is plan more "me" time for socializing with friends while the kids are off with DH or grandma.

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#8 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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My friend's son was really aggressive at that age. She had to be on top of him all the time or he would hurt smaller kids--and she'd get some really dirty looks and angry comments from other moms whose kids got hurt--can't say I blame them if it was my kid getting hurt. It wasn't fun for my friend, and she didn't get to sit and relax EVER when her son was around other kids, but she figured that his personality was such that this was the only way he was going to learn to get a handle on his aggression. He did eventually stop being aggressive and it's all cool now. My friend joined an evening book group and did some volunteer work without her son in order to get some "me time" where she could hang out and not have to be on top of things with her son all the time. Unfortunately, when you've got an agressive kid and a friend with a smaller, nonagressive kid, you really can't sit back and relax. But don't worry, in another year or two, it will get easier.
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#9 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:12 PM
 
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You might find it is easier if you make friends with children closer in age or even a bit older than your child. Part of the issue with this particular situation is that your child is older, bigger, more active. But he is still also impulsive and doesn't understand his own strength yet. That wouldn't be an issue if the other child was 5, but its a big issue when the other child isn't even 2. Also, sometimes these playdates go better at the park or zoo or something similar, rather than in one of your homes.
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#10 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well honestly I can see her concern if her wee one is only 20 months old and you yourself said your son was "VERY active, aggressive, energetic and strong willed". Perhaps if you were there with him at all times and keep him within arms reach basically until everyone is comfortable that he has some understanding of his actions (which unfortunately may be awhile, sorry!! ) she wouldn't feel the need to step in?

I know it can be hard. I have a DS who was the quiet type and it was hard for me to have friends for coffee if their child was rambunctious and aggressive. It was too much for DS and just not worth trying until he got older in my case. We had to be careful about his friend selection.

I hope this works out mama.
I know, isn't is funny--she has a hard time with my child because he is full of energy and loves to run, stomp and shout excitedly and I have a hard time with her child because she is so timid, non-adventurous and clingy. It's so hard to find a mama and a child that fit the both of us!

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#11 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:13 PM
 
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Right, so it sounds like what I'll have to do is plan more "me" time for socializing with friends while the kids are off with DH or grandma.
Well if you have those kinds of oppurtunities, absolutely! You can start a monthly mothers day out or something and go hang out with your friends sans children. =) I misunderstood your earlier statement about never being without your children and didn't think you would have a childcare option.

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#12 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:39 PM
 
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You're going to have to adjust your expectations. It's a season in your life, no, you will not be able to sit and relax on the couch with a cup of coffee while the children play in another room. Accept it, and find things you can do while you watch the children.
I agree. There is a big difference between a 20 month old and a 3 year old. You cannot expect a 20 month old not to be 'clingy' or timid around an active 3 year old regardless of gender or parenting styles.

IF you meet at a park or go outside, the noise level will be easier for your friend to process.

I will say that often times, because I am so calm and engaged with my kids, other parents have 'relaxed' and left their children for me to mind. It is really hard on me at times. I do not get that impression from your posts though.
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#13 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:49 PM
 
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In the past, I have tried making friends with other moms who have boys because I often feel like my child's energy and demeanor is really misunderstood among mothers of girls. However, it looks like I keep attracting friends with daughters.
I'm in very much the same situation, except my son is older and the friends we make are often older or the same age. My son is not very aggressive, but very strong willed (will NOT listen to strangers) and very very active. They just don't seem to understand him at all and seem to think their daughters are in danger. : One of my friends constantly corrected my son, even when I had already addressed him and was standing right next to him. I had to ask her to just stop and told her it was not her place to address my son. She still kept doing it for a while, maybe because correcting other people's children were so deeply ingrained in her. If you are truely friends with this woman, I don't see that it will be a problem to talk to her about it ever so gently.
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#14 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:53 PM
 
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Well I have to say if you aren't there to "discpline" your kid, because you have chosen to leave the room, then she has to. Also "i'm going to tell your mom" may be a "threat" but isn't that exactly what you are asking her to do? To come get you and let you deal with your son's behavior?

also the difference between 20 months and 42 months is huge. Your kid has been around TWICE as long as the younger one! Ds is almost 2 (this sunday) and LOVES older kids, but sometimes has hard time with younger kids. When you are used to everyone being bigger than you (adults) its really hard to learn to change your actions when you are around younger kids. I don't think its fair to expect him to be able to navigate that world alone.
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#15 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I will say that often times, because I am so calm and engaged with my kids, other parents have 'relaxed' and left their children for me to mind. It is really hard on me at times. I do not get that impression from your posts though.
It's definitely the other way around in this situation. I have four boys, all of which have been rowdy and loud, so my tolerance level is really high. Hers is much, much lower, so she doesn't let certain things roll off her back like I do. (Example: I have an 8 month old baby and her 20 month old sits on him, pinches his cheeks hard, etc. It really doesn't phase me at all.) She tends to step in right away and I'm more apt to just let it slide.

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#16 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 04:02 PM
 
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(Example: I have an 8 month old baby and her 20 month old sits on him, pinches his cheeks hard, etc. It really doesn't phase me at all.) She tends to step in right away and I'm more apt to just let it slide.
And this is the crux of it. It is not acceptable for an older child to bully a smaller one. Well, it's not acceptable for any child to bully, but to over power a smaller child is really unacceptable. I would absolutely redirect my toddler from overpowering a baby. That is the crux of a toddler learning to interact- to teach them what is ok, what is not. If you let it slide for a 20mo to sit on and pinch an infant, they don't learn it is not ok. I totally understand not getting overly worked up about it, but totally not let that slide. I always step in with toddlers, they need so much assistance with socializing,.
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#17 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 04:06 PM
 
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It's definitely the other way around in this situation. I have four boys, all of which have been rowdy and loud, so my tolerance level is really high. Hers is much, much lower, so she doesn't let certain things roll off her back like I do. (Example: I have an 8 month old baby and her 20 month old sits on him, pinches his cheeks hard, etc. It really doesn't phase me at all.) She tends to step in right away and I'm more apt to just let it slide.
I would step in too and redirect my 20 month old from pinching and sitting on others.
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#18 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And this is the crux of it. It is not acceptable for an older child to bully a smaller one. Well, it's not acceptable for any child to bully, but to over power a smaller child is really unacceptable. I would absolutely redirect my toddler from overpowering a baby. That is the crux of a toddler learning to interact- to teach them what is ok, what is not. If you let it slide for a 20mo to sit on and pinch an infant, they don't learn it is not ok. I totally understand not getting overly worked up about it, but totally not let that slide. I always step in with toddlers, they need so much assistance with socializing,.
I agree with what you're saying..

I guess I'm definitely just more passive in the way I deal with the same situation. Her child sits on my infant and I gently remove her and pick up my infant and soothe him. I guess I would feel really uncomfortable using my parenting styles and disciplinary tactics on someone who is not my own child or in my charge.

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#19 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 04:20 PM
 
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I agree with what you're saying..

I guess I'm definitely just more passive in the way I deal with the same situation. Her child sits on my infant and I gently remove her and pick up my infant and soothe him. I guess I would feel really uncomfortable using my parenting styles and disciplinary tactics on someone who is not my own child or in my charge.
Yes, exactly. She might feel the same way. I think you and she should have an open conversation about this situation.
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#20 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 05:45 PM
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My 3.5 year old DD is very high energy and is aggressively friendly. She will go up to another child and say hi very loudly and excitedly. Quieter children seem to find it intimidating. Some kids are just fine with her exuberance. Age doesn't seem to matter as much as temperament. We don't do play dates (we've tried a couple of times). She's met some kids at the park that she plays well with, but more often she's just too high energy for most.
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#21 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 06:19 PM
 
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I agree that with this particular age difference, you can't let the kids work it out themselves. Her 20 month old isn't physical enough to do that, and her 20 month old probably isn't verbal enough.

Even with two 3.5 year olds, it's hard to let them work it out themselves. My dd goes to an on campus daycare center where there are lots and lots of REALLY verbal kids. The daycare actively teaches problem solving and having kids work things out. The kids leave the daycare at 5-6 with great skills in this area. But for 3 year olds and the young 4s, they often can't do it themselves. For little things, they can, but once things escalate, a teacher NEEDS to step in.

I would ask your friend what she would like to have happen in common 'discipline' situations. The see if you can work together to come up with some solutions that more reflect your values about discipline. For example, instead of 'forcing' an apology, maybe you can work toward having your son 'make amends'. "Look, X is crying. When you sat on her hand, you hurt her. How can you help her feel better?" (Stony silence from your son.) "Do you want to help get an ice pack for her or do you want to say "sorry"?"

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#22 of 37 Old 07-28-2009, 10:30 PM
 
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I think you should be more on top of watching your child at all times andyou should talk to her about disciplining your child. My friends and I all redirect each other's children and that is something that we have discussed early in our friendship and are all fine with. This may just be something that she expects that you are fine with because she is fine with it too. She may also think that when you leave the room you are turning the child watching, that clearly still needs to be done, over to her. My friends and I used to bring our coffee with us and have our conversations while staying with our children when they were younger, it is something that is easy to do once you get the hang of it. We are still sometimes interrupted by our kids to hear about something they are playing or doing together or to go help out in a squabble that is escalating to screaming, but we are very good at picking up our conversations right where we left off and this really helps us to feel less isolated from friends.
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#23 of 37 Old 07-29-2009, 12:42 AM
 
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This is one of the those places where you can completely avoid situations where she needs to step in -- you need to be constantly aware of where your son is and what he is doing. You need to NOT be out of earshot or so far away that you can't intervene before she does. You won't be able to relax and enjoy time "off duty" when you are together, unfortunately.
I totally agree with this. I was often at the other end of this (I had the timid, scared kiddo), and it demands vigilance from one parent or the other--and it sounds like you're definitely the better choice in this case!

When the little girl gets older, she'll be able to hold her own better and you'll be able to back off.
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#24 of 37 Old 07-29-2009, 01:33 AM
 
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... A lot of this happens when I'm just out of earshot or not in the immediate room or am engaged in something else and can't get to the situation in time. Her and I have talked in general about how it's an interesting idea to let children work things out before immediately stepping in and fixing things for them, but she is obviously very protective of her daughter since she's much smaller, younger, etc. ...?
if you're child is aggressive than it is really up to you to be disciplining him anyway...which means you should be in the room. i agree that this may just be a time in your life when you can't sip that coffee and kick your feet up.

i love my momma friend...who has a child like yours. but when she leaves the room, or doesn't keep an eye on her "baby" all it does it put me in the position where I have to discipline her child because I am the only adult who sees the aggression (and her son does get violent--so it has to be stopped)

perhaps if your son has hurt her daughter in the past she is nervous. I know that when my momma friend and her son are over I get hover-y.

don't give her the opportunity to discipline your son. and if/when she oversteps boundaries by intervening with you present...that is when you can say things about your discipline tactics/measures.

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#25 of 37 Old 07-29-2009, 02:13 AM
 
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I know, isn't is funny--she has a hard time with my child because he is full of energy and loves to run, stomp and shout excitedly and I have a hard time with her child because she is so timid, non-adventurous and clingy. It's so hard to find a mama and a child that fit the both of us!
Honestly I don't understand this - her daughter is just 20 months old, not even 2. Personally, I feel that it is pretty common for not quite 2 year olds to timid and clingy.

Regardless, your son simply needs to be in your eyesight at all times for now or else you will probably continue to have these problems.
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#26 of 37 Old 07-29-2009, 02:34 AM
 
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I have a DS who was more timid as a toddler and a DD who was a very aggressive toddler. I have been on both sides. With DS I felt very protective and with DD I had to watch her like a hawk to ensure she didn't hurt anyone. I agree with the other posters that when you have a more active/aggressive child, it makes sense to stay on top of the situation so the other parent doesn't feel like they have to discipline your child. I always feel awkward disciplining someone else's child. However, I will step in if my child is being bullied or put in a dangerous situation. DS is 6 and he still runs into situations where he is being bullied by a friend's older/bigger child. I believe in letting older children work things out amongst themselves, but I will not let my child be physically hurt if I can do something about it. For example, we were at the pool today and my friend's 11 year old son held my DS under the water because he was mad at him. My friend was busy reading a book. I did not hesitate to step in. DS could have been seriously hurt. It would have been better if my friend witnessed the situation and stepped in immediately, but that was not the case. So I was left with intervening and subsequently disciplining her child.

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#27 of 37 Old 07-29-2009, 02:19 PM
 
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It sounds a bit like:

1) you're assuming your DS's behaviors are boy behaviors and her DD's are girl behaviors

2) You think that your DS's mode of interacting is a preferable one -- that being outgoing and at least a little agressive is a *good* thing, and that it is something the other child is lacking in. You "have a hard time with her."

3) You think, maybe as a general rule, that a less-aggressive child should accommodate him/herself to the play style of the more aggressive child. "Let them work it out" usually works out in real life to "the aggressive kid gets to do whatever they want." Or, in many cases, "Girls, the boys are rough, and that's just the way they are, so you'll have to just put up with it. And they'll get everything they want because they hit people and take stuff, but that's okay because they're boys."

4) You think that this law of the jungle mode of helping children learn to deal with other children's styles of interaction should start very, very, early.

I agree with the others that with these ages, it really shouldn't matter whether the other child is agressive too, or not. You can't sit back and not pay attention to what the kids are doing. There is a world of developmental difference between 20 months and 42+ months. And kids that age need appropriate actions modelled for them. Including apologies - not forced from the other child, but sincere from the adults. "I'm sorry you got scared when he shouted like that. That must have hurt your ears."

In the example of a 20 month old sitting on an 8 month old -- not only would I remove the 20 month old each time, but I would also remind "Baby is smaller, baby can't get out of your way if she wants to. Baby can't tell you when something hurts except by crying. You need to be gentle." We reinforced "You need to be aware of people who are slower/weaker/younger than you, and respect their need for space" over and over with my kids when they were those ages.

If someone is doing something with potential consequences to safety of people or property in my house and their parent is not immediatley there, I do not wait until the parent comes back into the area to handle it. That whole system feels like I am tattling on the child, and it also feels like addressing all requests for discipline to the parents is completely ignoring the child - talking about them like they're not even int he room.

Do people really think that if someone's 3 year old is preparing to toss a block into a window, write on my sofa, or bash someone with a truck, that I'm supposed to turn to the parent and say "Um, please tell Bobby not to color on the walls." Bobby is right there. "Bobby, please do not color on my walls. Here is a piece of paper you can color on, instead." I have never thought twice about doing things like that, including raising my voice if need be "Yikes! Put down those scissors NOW!"

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#28 of 37 Old 08-01-2009, 12:42 AM
 
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It's definitely the other way around in this situation. I have four boys, all of which have been rowdy and loud, so my tolerance level is really high. Hers is much, much lower, so she doesn't let certain things roll off her back like I do. (Example: I have an 8 month old baby and her 20 month old sits on him, pinches his cheeks hard, etc. It really doesn't phase me at all.) She tends to step in right away and I'm more apt to just let it slide.
I feel it's important to point out that this is by the OP, and I assume it's the SAME mom who worries about the OP's older son with her 20 month old, is also not stopping her 20 month old from hurting the OP's 8 month old.

I mean, that's about the same age difference, right? Your older one to the 20 month old, and the 20 month old to the 8 month old? So it's weird that the mom isn't doing anything about her daughter hurting your baby, but she is quick to jump about the older one hurting her daughter.

When you talk to your friend, definitely talk about that, even if you don't mind what the 20 month old is doing, and I can understand why your threshold is really high for that sort of thing, since you have 4 kids that are possibly rambunctious with each other!

That said, her telling him that she'll tell you, as someone pointed out, is what you do actually want her to do. She prevents him from doing things by telling him she will tell, and obviously she feels that that is better than letting him do something she feels is harmful, and then letting you deal with it. The "threat" method isn't awfully kind, but if she's seeing pain/hurt about to happen to her kidlet and you aren't in the room...


I don't have many (any?) mom friends (at least none that I've seen in a very long time), I'm kind of a hermit, and I have very few stories of this sort. But one of my old friends had problems with another friend. They had kids about the same age, one boy one girl. The boy wasn't aggressive at all, but the girl's parents, especially the dad, I swear thought the boy was going to kill his daughter every time they got together. He was ALL OVER that little boy, making sure he didn't do pretty much anything, because he perceived that the big scary boy was going to harm his little princess. I watched this so often, and the boy was never doing anything bad, he was a kind and gentle soul who actually got up to much less "naughtiness" than the girl did, but her parents had a very strong perception. I could see your friend possibly having this perception, IF your son isn't actually hurting her but it's more his way of being that's causing a perceived problem.

Hope your conversation goes well! I would recommend doing it without ANY kidlets around...
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#29 of 37 Old 08-01-2009, 07:13 PM
 
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I feel it's important to point out that this is by the OP, and I assume it's the SAME mom who worries about the OP's older son with her 20 month old, is also not stopping her 20 month old from hurting the OP's 8 month old.

I mean, that's about the same age difference, right? Your older one to the 20 month old, and the 20 month old to the 8 month old? So it's weird that the mom isn't doing anything about her daughter hurting your baby, but she is quick to jump about the older one hurting her daughter.
.
Actually, I thought it was pretty clear the the OP thinks the friend intervenes too often between the friend's 20 month old and the OPs 8 month old, that she steps in too fast, where the OP is fine with what the 20 month old is doing and would not jump in as fast.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#30 of 37 Old 08-03-2009, 12:02 AM
 
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I say, "what would your mom say?" instead of "I'm going to tell your mom." With the right tone it doesn't come across as threatening, and I think it helps the other child connect with whatever his/her parents usually say. I don't really want to jump in and discipline another person's child. I would much rather support what they are learning at home. So, if I know the family really well, I would say, "I think your Mama says don't jump on the couch. Is that right?" 99% of the time the child will make a thoughtful expression, and then stop whatever it is. If I don't know the family very well, I often say either, "What would your Mama say?" or "I think you should go talk to your Mama," or, "I'm not sure that's okay. Let's wait until your Mama gets back." If the child is insistent, and is being dangerous, or extremely difficult, I say, "Hmmm, let's go get your Mama and see what she thinks." Then I go find the Mama and say something like, "Little boy wanted to jump off the counter. I wasn't sure if that was standard for you all so I thought we'd come check."

The little boy is a partner in things, and I'm not going against anything the parents are trying to teach their child, but yet I am preventing mayhem.

Maybe if your friend changed her phrasing a bit, it wouldn't come across as a threat, but would still be effective?

"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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