Originally Posted by mrspineau
Well I guess IMO then if being a helicoptor parent means that we intervene when our children are treating others unfairly, and making sure that they are safe then that's what I want to be. as for letting children work things out for themselves, take child A for example then, who is the one being bossy, not sharing, throwing sand, etc. then take child B who doesnt stick up for himself. let them work it out then, and whos going to be the clear winner? Child A. then, if Child A is getting what they want because they think that their behaviour is perfectly fine, because mommy's sitting on the bench over there and if I was doing something wrong then wouldn't she come and stop me, then that's how she'll continue to act, no? the lesson there to me is, yes its okay to take advantage of those less assertive than you, and you only have to share or compromise when the other person has a stronger personality. i think that those moms sitting on the bench call it helicoptering to make themselves feel better about their lack of attention to their child's behaviours.
The OP was not talking about intervening when her child was the bully...she was talking about intervening when her child was the target. It would be nice if all parents parented like I do, but they don't so it's not my job to do it for them. If OP wanted to protect her child from any unfair treatment other kids might commit, that's fine because he is HER child, but it must be done by parenting her child, not everybody elses. Whether that is letting him work things out, or stepping in and doing it for him is up to her.
To add to the perspective of one of the PPs on letting kids work it out themselves, I have 2 x 5 year olds right now, though they are genetically cousins, not brothers. My nephew is a very smart analytical type A personality and can be possesive but tends to be very good about explaining the rules patiently because he's learned that he will have more playmates if he doesn't expect them to do things exactly like he does. My son is very cooperative, imaginitive, laidback and sensitive, which makes them like a kindergarden version of the Odd Couple.
It is very easy to see them interacting in a way that makes people want to "protect" my son. For instance, if we get two nearly identical toys and my son seems really happy with his, my nephew will ask if he can have it instead because he doesn't like his. My son will see how unhappy my nephew is and decide to trade, even though it was very clear he liked the first toy a great deal. I let it be...they are both happy. My MiL has stepped in and forbidden this type of cooperation because she doesn't think it's "fair" to my son.
Other times we have gotten two things and they both wanted the same one. When they were younger, we would simply hand them each one, and if they didn't like the one they got, then too bad, and screaming and crying ensued, along with lots of petty behavior like yelling "I want that one!" anytime they knew they were gonna get to pick from two objects. Now we take no part in determining who gets what. They must work out who gets which one, and if they can't mutually agree then the objects will remain in my custody. I would say that most of the time my nephew ends up with the one they both wanted. Could I intervene because it's unfair that my nephew almost always gets his way? Sure, and sometimes if they have stale-mated in their negotiating I'll suggest things they might not have thought of (like one kid gets first choice this time and they agree that the other gets it next time, etc.) but for the most part they are EXTREMELY mature for 5 year olds so why would I mess with that? My MiL will "let them decide" and then change it up if she feels the result is unfair, and guess what...they are whiney and arguemenitive around her. I can hand them two differently colored cupcakes and I know they'll talk it out and both walk away happy with a cupcake...at MiL's house that situation is a nightmare.
Plus, just because in that one situation my son seems to get the "short end of the stick", doesn't mean he actually is a doormat to my type-A nephew. Sometimes they'll ask if a friend can come over, and I explain that I don't want other kids at the house unless the toys are picked up. Guess who gets their entire shared bedroom organised while Mr.Easygoing just lounges on the bed looking at books?
It's so funny because you can actually hear them bickering: "Hey! You need to help pick up!" "OK, I'll put the books away." (a few minutes later) "You only put away 2 books!" "I'm still reading the rest!!!" The room ends up cleaned, and they both benefit from the friend coming over, though my nephew did most of the work. Despite the frustration during the process, they both come out happy.
They have very real personality differences that are likely to continue into adulthood. My nephew has learned that he can't expect everybody else to care about things as much as him, so while it's OK to be a perfectionist, he seems to understand that sometimes if he's the one who cares, he's the one who will have to make it happen. My son has learned that many things are just not worth the stress of a fight if they really aren't that important to him. I don't know if artificially leveling the fairness field would change their fundamental personalities or save them any grief in the long-run.
If your son having the toy all to himself is more important to you than it is to your son, it might just be worth not bringing it to the park. If it IS important to your son, he will figure out how to deal with the situation in a way that fits his personality (be that playing with it somewhere else, getting more confrontational, asking to come back when it's less crowded etc.). There's nothing wrong with talking to him, giving him suggestions, or supporting him in ways that require your help (like going home if he wants to deal with it in that way) but it's just not your place to correct other people's kids. I really do understand the desire to protect him from kids with stronger personalities, but nothing occurring is really that abnormal for a public park with kids that age. If your son is getting the short end of the stick, then it is up to you to teach your son how he should deal with it instead of getting upset and imagining what it would be like in a perfect world where other parents came over and stopped their kids from treating him unfairly.
FWIW I do see safety issues as a "step in" type of sitution, but unfairness alone is not a safety issue. I really detest the spinning "merry-go-round" thing on one of the playgrounds here because it looks like the funnest thing ever to kids under age two, but the 8 year olds make it go so fast that it will really screw a toddler up pretty badly. When my 2 year old goes near it I spin him slowly if it's empty, and remove him if bigger kids get on it. I've seen other parents of toddlers yell at bigger kids to go slower and frankly that bothers me. You just can't contol other people's kids, and the whole playground doesn't grind to a halt just because my son is too young to play safely on that one piece of equipment.