Unfortunately, it’s happened on several occasions. Noé and I will be out in some public, kid-friendly space, and then inevitably, another (usually bigger, but not always) kid will decide that they can’t live without something she has. Commence grabbing, snatching, blocking, shoving, etc.
I have no problem with said kids (okay, that’s not strictly true), but mostly my bone is with the parents or guardians. It’s one of my pet peeves, adults who bring children to public places and then leave them to run amok with virtually no supervision.
Of course, in such situations, my immediate instinct is to protect my child by any means possible, but thankfully reason takes over and I look around for the “owner” of said child. I’m hoping that they’ll step in and together we can regulate. I’m astounded at the frequency with which this doesn’t happen. Worse still is when it’s treated like it’s no big deal.
I’ll admit, I’m still working on my response to such situations, but should you ever be faced with the same predicament, here are a few tips I’ve picked up:
- Hands Off: While I celebrate being a mother bear (hear me roar), I am aware of the pitfalls of helicopter parenting. I’d hate to cripple Noe’s ability to effectively interact independently with her world. Therefore, where appropriate, I refrain from intervening at all to give her a chance to figure it out on her own. Recently I took a step back and let her have at it with a kid who kept snatching things from her hand. I watched with pride as she fought back (calm down, I don’t mean physically), and stood up for herself. Both kids ended on a high note, giggling as they covered each other with leaves. Phew!
- Gentle Nudge: Sometimes, all the other kid needs is some guidance. Nothing severe or parental; just a suggestion on sharing and taking turns. There’s a fine line here, and I am always extremely awkward doing this, but the response has mostly been positive.
- Shake it Off: I prefer not to parent children that aren’t mine, unless I’ve earned the right (as a member of their tribe) and have been granted permission by their parent(s) to do so. When this is not the case, my first approach is to leave situation. This isn’t always ideal, I don’t want to kick Noé’s flight senses into overdrive, but in some cases moving on is the best solution.
Let me state unequivocally that this isn’t meant to be a shaming session. I’m not looking to point fingers or scold anyone. The fact is, unless he or she was literally forged from sugar and spice and everything nice, there’s a learning curve for all children when it comes to playtime etiquette. Things just work better when we each play our part in helping them along.