Childrearing

Parents Need To Back Off And Let Toddlers Learn How To Interact With Each Other

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toddlers-fightingI understand the importance of teaching kids how to share. I also understand the importance of backing off at the park so our kids can learn to socialize with each other. Unless my kids are getting physical — which they never have with strangers before — I let them settle their little squabbles at the park themselves.

A mom posted on a parenting forum on Reddit to ask about parenting etiquette when your child is playing with public toys. She asked, “What is the correct parenting ettiquette [sic], when your child is playing with a public toy and another child comes up to him/her and grabs it off him? She expands:

We often go and play at a community hall, which gets turned into an indoor playground during the winter weekends. Today, my 2 year old was running around with a ball, when another toddler ran up to him, and attempted to grab the ball off him. My tot, became visibly distressed, and not wanting to discipline a stranger’s child, I encouraged my child to let ‘his’ ball go, and we went to find another. This type of scenario happens a lot – just wondering what the correct etiquette should be here?

I think it’s important to teach your children to share. I also thinks it’s impossible to parent everyone else’s children at a public play space — and also not your responsibility. Teaching our kids that the only person’s actions they can control are their own is a very important lesson. I can teach my child to share and be fair. I can also teach him that not everyone shares or is fair, and when he’s in a situation where someone refuses to share, best to keep it moving.

I just don’t feel comfortable coming between two children at the park. I can parent my child in such a way to ensure that he’s not a bully. But if another child is a bully, I think it’s best to address the parent, not insert myself between two children and physically remove a toy from a child’s hands. I feel weird about that.

Some parents see it differently. One Reddit user says, “My 2.5 year old is small for his age and very, very timid. He has never won a toy tug-of-war, it always ends with the toy being immediately ripped out of his hands and the other kid running away with it while he stands there sadly. So when I see someone going after a toy he’s playing with I step in ASAP and say “you can play with it when he’s done”, etc.” That makes me sad. In this situation, I can certainly see wanting to step in in some way and encourage sharing.

It’s tough. You hope that all parents are teaching their children to share and not be pushy little bullies, but that’s not always the case. Also – toddlers are notoriously ill-behaved. They are all about instant gratification. It’s a little harder to get a two-year-old to see the benefit of sharing than it is to get a four-year-old to. I’m still not grabbing a toy out of the hands of a two-year-old who isn’t mine.

But that’s just me.

(photo: Cresta Johnson/ Shutterstock)