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

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Old 11-27-2007, 04:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 04:53 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 04:56 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 04:58 AM
 
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(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.

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Old 11-27-2007, 05:01 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:10 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:13 AM
 
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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".

It's complicated.
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:14 AM
 
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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?

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:18 AM
 
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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
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:19 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:26 AM
 
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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!

It's complicated.
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Old 11-27-2007, 05:28 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-27-2007, 10:24 AM
 
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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?

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Old 11-27-2007, 10:32 AM
 
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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.
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Old 11-27-2007, 10:41 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-27-2007, 10:56 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-27-2007, 11:17 AM
 
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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.

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Old 11-27-2007, 11:18 AM
 
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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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Old 11-27-2007, 02:55 PM
 
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I would not bring an important toy to any place where there are other children.

I would try to offer the other child a trade if his mother would not take the toy out of his hand. I would never physically take anything from another child, though.

In the end, if the mother is no help and the toy is not coming back any time soon, I would comfort and soothe and distract my child as best I could and try not to inadvertently reinforce her belief that she cannot live without this toy.

Its hard, but in toddler law anything that is not being used is fair game. I would really try hard to either make sure that particular toy does not get dropped or leave the toy at home.
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Old 11-27-2007, 03:05 PM
 
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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 wouldn't tear it from the child's hands, but I would attempt to take it at that point (while making sure to say something like "dd is very upset, I'm going to give her toy back to her now"). If the child resisted, I would say to the mom "I'm sorry, but I need that toy back now. It's her special toy and she's very upset, please get it back."

That being said, I agree with this-

Quote:
I would not bring an important toy to any place where there are other children.
DD1 had a toy like that, and it never came with us when we went out to play. If people came over here, that toy went into my room. That way we avoided things like this!

Of course, if your child is very attached to it and needs to have it around, that's probably not possible.
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Old 11-27-2007, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
Yeah, I agree with you that he didn't understand the significance at all. My big problem was just the fact that it seemed to be her comfort toy that day, and I was really stuck between trying to explain that to him, pursuading his mama to help out, and comforting my hysterical kiddo. The fact that he didn't get it at all (and wouldn't be expected to) is why I was annoyed with his mama's handling and definitely not him.

It's happened several times before with the two of them, but it's usually more forceful--she's playing a game and he takes the pieces and runs away, she's on a tricycle and he wants to use it and so pushes her off. So I'm not sure leaving this particular toy at home will completely eliminate this issue for us. But, I'll definitely try the substituting technique.
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Old 11-27-2007, 03:37 PM
 
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In the end, if the mother is no help and the toy is not coming back any time soon, I would comfort and soothe and distract my child as best I could and try not to inadvertently reinforce her belief that she cannot live without this toy.
I just do not get this at all. The kid learns that if she lets go of her lovey at any time, it's fair game for another kid to keep until he's good and ready to give it up, even if it means that he gets to take it home with him? Not cool. I'd ask the other mother if she wanted to take the toy out of her son's hand, or if she wanted me to. And that would be our last playdate with them.
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Old 11-27-2007, 03:52 PM
 
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I would never physically take anything from another child, though.

In the end, if the mother is no help and the toy is not coming back any time soon, I would comfort and soothe and distract my child as best I could and try not to inadvertently reinforce her belief that she cannot live without this toy.

Its hard, but in toddler law anything that is not being used is fair game. I would really try hard to either make sure that particular toy does not get dropped or leave the toy at home.
:
And why would it make sense for "toddler law" to rule the day?

I teach my toddler what is socially acceptable, with empathy for his toddler feelings. In this case, it would probably mean telling the mom that she needs to get the toy in my hands now, because dc needs to leave... and then leave. If the mom didn't take the toy, I would warn her that I need to do it, and then I'd take it (saying nicely "sorry, but we need to leave and dc needs her toy now").

Teaching dc that she doesn't need that toy can be done on different ways - like a pp suggested by putting the toy where no-one can use it for a while, or by leaving and having some discussions when things are settled down. Tring to teach in the heat of the moment is not going to work well, IME.

I think the expectation to share *everything* is unrealistic. I certainly own things I am not willing to share. ("Oh my wedding ring fell off in the sink and you decided - without asking me - to wear it for the rest of the afternoon just because you happened to find it?" or "Yeah, that's my cell phone on the shelf, I see you think it's cool, huh? Oh you are going to just take it and read through my messages, look at my pictures and contact lists without asking me?" See how ridiculous?)

I agree that much angst can be avoided by not bringing cherished items around other kids. But your dc needs to decide for herself to share her items. They are ultimately hers and understanding sharing means, first, understanding ownership. The borrower is not the one who should decide sharing arrangements - that will teach dc to be resentful, stingy and miserly, ultimately, IMO.

ETA: cross-post with the op - I see it happens with sharing in general, and not just with special items. I really wouldn't want my dc playing with this boy if he's behaving like this regularly, unchecked. But I think kid-kid interactions at such young ages are highly overrated so I just avoid the kids with behaviors I don't want to see in my sons.

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Old 11-27-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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Yeah, I agree with you that he didn't understand the significance at all. My big problem was just the fact that it seemed to be her comfort toy that day, and I was really stuck between trying to explain that to him, pursuading his mama to help out, and comforting my hysterical kiddo. The fact that he didn't get it at all (and wouldn't be expected to) is why I was annoyed with his mama's handling and definitely not him.

It's happened several times before with the two of them, but it's usually more forceful--she's playing a game and he takes the pieces and runs away, she's on a tricycle and he wants to use it and so pushes her off. So I'm not sure leaving this particular toy at home will completely eliminate this issue for us. But, I'll definitely try the substituting technique.

If I were you, I think I would do more disciplining of the boy. I would kind of act like I would if the mother wasn't there. For example, if he came to push my dd off of her trike, I'd say, "Dd is still using it, you'll have to wait your turn. Here, want to play with XYZ?" Have you tried that? I think your dd would appreciate you standing up for her, and you can model it for her so she can learn it too. In fact, you could even tell her, "Dd, if you're not finished with the trike, you can tell him that you're still having a turn. Say, 'I'm not finished, don't push me!'"

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Old 11-27-2007, 04:11 PM
 
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I do the same thing with DS, he likes to bring something with him, but we leave it in the car to "keep it safe". That way he gets to bring it and there is no chance for something like what you described to happen.

Also, the boy did not really understand what it meant to her and the initial picking up of the toy I don't think was a major problem. But it was him not giving it back after your daughter was hysterical.

Been there, but my experience is a little more drastic. One child hits my DS with toys, hands, kicks, pulls his shirt etc. And then I have to sit there and watch the mother basically do nothing or attempt to do something(however you want to look at it). I am tempted to not let them play any more. But he really likes playing with the other kids there and I like the moms too.

IMHO, there is a time and place for GD(no, I am not advocating spanking), but SOMETHING has to be done about the situation. My child is being physically hurt and that is not acceptable. If it were only a toy problem.

wife to DH 2/03, mama to DS 3/03 & DD 1/09
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Old 11-27-2007, 04:23 PM
 
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Really? You would forcibly remove it from him? I've been really uncomfortable with that, especially with her sitting right there.
I would have gently removed the toy from his grasp and given him another to replace it. Like you I would have given his mama the opportunity to do so first, but since she was sitting there trying to convince your extremely upset daughter to give up her lovey for an entire afternoon I would have intervened.
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Old 11-27-2007, 04:27 PM
 
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I would have told the other mother to get the toy...NOW. She had a lot of nerve asking your sobbing DD to let him keep it ALL DAY! WTH?! :

~Marie : Mom to DS(11), DS(10), DD(8), DD(4), DD(2), & Happily Married to DH 12 yrs.!
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Old 11-27-2007, 04:32 PM
 
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If this is normally the problem you might have dd put the toy up "for a nap" when the little boy comes over. That way she isn't forced to share it. Or you could scoop up the toy when she drops it.

I know this is only one example but preventing the run-ins might be the best option.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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