I have a ... situation ... I would like y'alls perspective on. A good friend of mine recently moved back to the area - she has a 21 month old son. My son is 27 months old. We've been getting together to hang out but the boys canNOT get along. My son is very easy-going, calm, and introverted. Her son is more rough and tumble, and extroverted. Okay, so big personality difference. But more than that, her son keeps hitting my son (or rather, trying to hit - I've started keeping myself very close to my son so I can protect him), pushing him, screaming in his face, yanking his toys away, pushing him some more, etc. It is getting pretty miserable to have playdates. My son gets really scared when the other boy screams in his face, even if he's not actually hurting him. I'm trying to limit our get-togethers to things that don't involve toys (since that seems to be a main point of contention) - things like walks, pool, playground, etc, but even then if they get close enough to touch the other boy will push and hit my son. Sometimes out of the blue for no apparent reason.
My friend is a good mom and is wanting to do "gentle discipline" with her son, although I'm not sure she's fully thought through what that means. In other words, she knows more about what she doesn't want to do than what she DOES want to do. I gave her Unconditional Parenting when her son was born but I don't think she read it. She does really try to get her son to "share" (I don't push sharing, just emphasize taking turns, making trades, and also allow my son not to share his toys if he doesn't want to - and also to respect the other boy's desire not to share his toys) and she says "Good job" too many times for my comfort level.
Anyway, I don't really feel like my friend is doing anything wrong, per se, but I also want my child to be protected and not constantly in fear of being hit or shoved. I'm not really sure what to do - or if there IS anything to do other than limit their time together. My friend is very insecure about her parenting and so it's hard to even suggest anything without her feeling judged (even if that is not my intent.)
I guess my question is, what do you do in social situations where another kid is being mean to your kid? How do you handle the sharing issue? My son is just now starting to say "mine" and want the toy that another kid has just because the other kid has it (he's not ever rough about it though, just whiny.) This other boy doesn't seem to fully understand what is being said to him and doesn't have much (if any) empathy.
As for my friend, I have not figured out what to do. I have basically taken the easy way out and have avoided getting together. It makes me sad, but I don't want to confront her about this. Her attitude is "boys will be boys" and I think she basically avoids dealing with the issue in any way. Even when her son is aggressive towards her daughter, she makes excuses for him. I am hoping that as he gets older things will improve, but for now I limit our contact to protect my daughter. While I like my friend a lot, my daughter's well being is my primary concern and I feel that I should not knowingly put her in situations where I know she will likely be hurt.
I strongly believe in gentle discipline and we don't use punishments. But we do have limits and rules and when rules are broken, there are consequences. So while I don't have experience with my daughter hurting another child, if this was an issue we were dealing with over and over, I would make sure that we set clear rules before going to a playground or a playdate. I would discuss the issue with her, explain why she can't push, hit, etc., offer alternatives (what she can do or say when she is upset) and explain what the consequence would be if she did not follow the rules - " if you hit, push, scream at another child, we will have to leave the playground, playdate, etc." And then I'd follow through. I would not want another child to repeatedly be the victim of my child's aggression. And I would want my child to learn that aggression is not ok.
So while I can't offer any advice about how to deal with your friend, I thought I'd share my perspective.
Since then, there have been conversations about how to behave around other people. "Mine" has become a word that baby is trying out (and shouting) that I'm not really sure what to do with. I frequently hear during play with stuffies and dolls "don't hit me, don't push, that's not very nice!". Makes me think that it has really been internalized which makes me sad. Should we have gotten the heck out of there sooner? Could/should I have done something different? Like you mentioned OP, I didn't want to call my friend out "you do see this is happening right?"
My thought is this. Keep your friend, don't offer parenting advice unless she asks. Talk on the phone, email, have lunch at a restaurant with your children (where they can't get down and play). However your instinct is keeping you close to your baby when you're together for a reason. It's cool to discuss appropriate responses to these behaviors with your child but if he is afraid then keep him away from the other kid. Teaching your baby that making good choices sometimes just means avoidance of things/people that cause us discomfort. That's what my decision has been. There will be a time when my friend and I will get together again. It will just have to be a day when Daddy can hang out with LO while Mommy visits with her friend for a bit. I will absolutely not allow LO to be hit. Squabbles over a toy are going to happen in the future I'm sure, but this was every time he had the chance. It's just not right to have your child be afraid of another.
I really struggled with this too. Hope this helps.
I wanted to add that if its too much for your son, that's that. DD does not like super loud kids much, and will get quickly overwhelmed. My nephew is easily overwhelmed by other kids in his face and I've had to peel DD off him a few times because she just wants to love him SO MUCH.
Momma-ing the Muffin since October 2011!
Thanks y'all. I think I've decided that we'll only get together at neutral locations - playgrounds, pools, etc. - where there are no toys to fight over and more space to share. We did that a few days ago and other than one "shove" it worked out well and everyone stayed happy. I think her son is having trouble coping with the move across country and is very anxious and overstimulated. But I don't want to let my son suffer the effects so until he settles down I will limit their interaction.