It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Tattling Strategy

Tattling and whining, the two banes of life with toddlers. Worse than power struggles over veggies and naps, worse than dawdling and contrariness, worse than snot, spit, puke and shit.

Of those two, tattling and whining, for me at any rate, whining is worse. Now, I loathe tattling. I loathe it almost as much as I loathe whining, but on balance, there’s just something about that off-key, see-saw, drawn-out tone of voice that just grates, you know? Gets right under the skin. So hard, nigh impossible, to tune out. (Which is THE WHOLE POINT of whining, of course.)

I have a tattler in the ranks. Ugh. All toddlers tattle at one point or another, but some kids? Some have an absolute passion for it. It’s their damned vocation. That’s what I’ve got these days. A dedicated, passionate tattler.

The only thing worse than whining is tatting done in a whine. Guess what? My current tattler is one of those. (Making her, as Hannah suggests, a whinitter? a tattlewhinge?) I think I’m going to adopt “tattlewhinge”. So evocative.

And these days, the tattling-whinging is constant. Absolutely constant.

“Grace is sitting on the beeeeh-ench! Daniel hit meeee-eee! Poppy won’t shaaaay-yare! He’s too cloooo-ooose! She’s too faaa-aar! They won’t… they will… they aren’t… they are…”

Whine, tattle, whine, tattle. All.Day.Long.

Aside: Now, some tattling is appropriate, of course. I just don’t tend to hear it from this child, but when I do, you can BE SURE that I am warmly appreciative!

“Rosie is standing on the table? Oh, no! That is dangerous! Good for you for telling me, so we can keep Rosie safe! Good job!”

I have strategies for tattling, of course. Strategies which will work, in time, so long as I have the persistence (which I do) and the patience (less bountiful some days) to see it through. Still, I can’t stop thinking about it. Not obsessing! I swear. Thinking. Mulling it over. Running scenarios through my mind. (Scenarios which do not include duct tape, I swear.) Musing. Cogitating.

Okay. Maybe obsessing, just a bit. But from much thinking comes actual insight! The insight came as I was ranting venting obsessing talking it over with Emma.

“She’s not trying to solve a problem, she’s just trying to get someone else in trouble, or use me to get herself some vengeance. I refuse to be her Enforcer.”

Suddenly I heard what I was saying: “She’s not trying to solve a problem.” I heard, and I had my lightbulb moment. When you have a problem, what should your response be? Why, to solve it, of course. To fix it. Make it better.

So, with that tiny bit of insight, I can reframe my response to a tattle into a clean, methodical, logical set of steps. It goes like this:

Kid tattles.

1. I ask “What’s the problem?”
Note: this is not said in a sarcastic tone. The question is quite sincere. Let’s get to the root of the problem — let’s identify the problem that needs to be fixed. Toddlers are often surprisingly poor at this. They know how they feel about what’s happened — NO LIKE IT!!! GRR! — they usually know what they want done in response — GIVE IT TO ME! NOW! — but they often can’t identify what event caused their feelings. And they very, very rarely manage to understand that the other party has a similar and equally valid set of needs.

So the first step is to identify the problem. Which, even if they can identify it, is often not quite as they see it. (The problem, stupid Mary, is that HE WON’T SHARE!!! No, actually, my little dumpling of sweetness, the problem is that he won’t abdicate the toy the second you demand it.) The problem, from my dispassionate adult perspective, is that you both have equally valid, conflicting desires.

I try to be sincere and kind about the problem, from their perspective. “You really, really want that toy! But you know what? She really, really wants that toy, too! And you can’t both play with it at the same time.” (We’ll assume it’s a toy that doesn’t lend itself to co-play.) “That’s a big problem!” Because, really, from their perspective of self-focus, immature empathy capabilities, and general life inexperience, it is a big problem.

All right. Having identified the problem, we go on to step two. “That’s a big problem,” I say,

2. “How can you solve the problem?”

The first proposed solution will be obvious: “He has to GIVE IT TO ME!” (Duh.)
“Yes,” says kindly party-pooping Mary, “but if we do that, you will be happy, but he will be sad. We need to try to fix this so you’re both happy.”

We continue, with me trying to draw it out of them, rather than impose it upon them. Sometimes this step is done with all children involved, sometimes with just the tattler. It depends on what the precipitating CRISIS!!!! was. (I treat their event as a Big Problem when I discuss it with them out of respect for their developmental phase. This does not mean I actually believe it’s a Big Problem. Because WHO CARES if the pink shoelace is beside the book or on top of it? Me?? I think not.)

2b. What happens if that doesn’t work?
This is preparing them for the future, when (as a result of my diligent and skilled assistance!) they are solving problems BEFORE they come tattling to me. Or even — and oh, my heart beats a little faster at the thought — INSTEAD of coming tattling to me. [Insert giggle of sheer giddiness.] So what if they come up with a solution, and it doesn’t work? They tried something, and there’s still a problem?

Because these are toddlers here. Even if, by some sudden burst of maturity, one of ’em actually manages a constructive, calm, co-operative response to a conflict/problem, that is no guarantee at all that the other kid will be equally sensible. In fact, odds make it strongly unlikely. So. If their wonderful fix-it idea doesn’t work? THEN they can come to me for help.

However, I expect them to try to fix it before they ask me to help.

So. When the child has come up with a solution that seems viable, I

3. See that it happens.
I don’t implement the solution. I watch and support the implementation, stepping in only when absolutely essential.

There. That’s the initial response. Emphasis on identifying shared problem, and the expectation that they try to fix it on their own.

When we’ve been through this enough times that the drill is understood, I retreat even further from involvement, hand over even more of the process to the child.

Kid Tattles, Phase Two.

1. What have you done to solve the problem?
“You know you are supposed to try to fix the problem first, before you talk to me about it. What have you tried?” Again, not angrily. Just asking. Because of course they have tried to fix it!!!

If they have tried something, they get much praise for this. Then I help them brainstorm another response. I will intervene if their solution was perfectly appropriate and the real problem is that the other child is acting like a two-year-old. (It’s a chronic issue with two-year-olds…)

If the response is “nothing”, I instruct the child to think of some ideas to fix it, and get back to me. I often look puzzled as I say it. “You haven’t tried anything yet?

If the response continues to be “nothing” many repetitions later, well after the expectation is 100% established, the tattler will be In Trouble for not trying to solve their own problems. Now I am no longer puzzled, but annoyed.

“You know you are to try to solve your problems. You know the rule: Try to fix it first! Off you go to the quiet stair and think about how to solve this.”

I like it. It gives ownership of the problem to the child, it teaches them some clear steps for resolution, it has a trajectory of decreasing adult involvment/increasing child autonomy.

February 19, 2013 Posted by | Peeve me, socializing, whining | , | 4 Comments

Here be sharks

Remember Daniel? My darling little barbarian? We’ve been working hard on his blundersome tendencies with notable success. After all, he’s a loving, willing, cheerful little guy. Good cheer? Daniel owns the patent. The rest of us have pale imitations.

So, though he remains a sturdy and active little fellow, he really is easing off on the maiming and bludgeoning. Really.

Yesterday, though, was a difficult, physical day. We had commando hugs and hair-pulling. We had inadvertent flattenings and absolutely vertent shoves.

And while I use all these events to train Daniel into better patterns, and to teach the others how to deal with unpleasant events (and manage Daniel a bit), it does get a smidge … repetitive.

1. “MARY!!! Daniel hitted me!”

2. “Did you talk to Daniel about it?”

3. Blink. Blink.

4. “Well, I didn’t hit you. You need to talk to Daniel. Go tell Daniel you don’t like hitting.”

5. “Daniel! You not hit me! I don’t like that!”

6. “Good. Now tell him what hands are for.”

7. “Daniel, hands are for hugging!”

And the sun bursts forth from Daniel’s charming round face, the arms spread wide, and we have much love all round.

Until the next time.

“MARY!!!! Daniel pushed me!”

“Did you talk to Daniel about it?”

Repeat steps 3 – 7. Over and over again. With every child. We’re all learning here. Except Daniel, you might reasonably conclude, but no, over the weeks there’s been definite improvement. Yesterday was a relapse, is all. These things happen.

Things had, in fact, improved by late afternoon, after naptime. (Either that or my reflexes had improved and my deflections were more timely. Could be either, but I prefer to believe it was Daniel.)

Until, fifteen minutes to home time …

Grace, running around the corner from living room to front hall, caught her arm on the doorframe. Quite the whack. I heard it from the other end of the dining room. I heard it and looked up in time to see her approach Daniel, who was sitting on the bottom step. (Also known as the Quiet Stair, but he hadn’t been sent there. He was just sitting there.)

Approach him with her arm extended. “Daniel, I got a bo-bo. You wanna kiss it better?” And …
she places…
her arm …
against …
his mouth.

Yeah, I was wincing, too.

You know how when a very bad thing is about to happen in a movie, it suddenly goes all slow motion? I knew what was about to happen. I started up and across the room, but there was no way I was going to get there in time. A sudden, startling yell would probably only hasten us to our unfortunate end. I hurried, but I may as well have been in slow motion. “Nooooooooooooo...”

Poor Grace. Her yell was entirely predictable. Her poor, unsuspecting arm. Bloody meat dropped into the shark’s tank, really.

“MARY!!!! Daniel bitted me!!!”

Oh, dear. And, yeah, surprise, surprise…

It wasn’t a bad bite. Barely dented the skin, and left nary a mark. But a bite, for sure. We put ice on it, of course. We always put ice on things. Ice is the Miracle Cure at Mary’s house. It was almost a non-event, but it was quite definitely not a kiss.

Poor innocent Grace.
Poor impulsive Daniel.

So what catchphrase now? Lips are for kissing? Teeth are for eating (but not your friends)?

I guess I shouldn’t find this quite so amusing, huh?

February 28, 2012 Posted by | aggression, Daniel, Grace, socializing | , , , , , | 12 Comments


…are Rule People. I know I’ve talked about that before. And because they are Rule People, they very readily become that second-worst bane of my existence, Tattlers. (The first? Whiners. Hate whining. Hate it, hate it, hate it.)

And when tattling is combined with whining — “Maaaaaaaryyyyy, she won’t shaaay-yerrrrr” — my left eye starts twitching as I contemplate running away to Tahiti. Again.

All of which could make one think that I don’t like four-year-olds. Not true!

Four-year-olds, along with being Rule People, are very often Organizers. Emily has always been an organizer, and Emily is now four.

She is not much of a tattler, either, in part because I squelch it pretty effectively, but mostly because she just dons her big-sister-organizer hat, and sorts them right out herself.

“Tyler, you know you have to share the toys. You can have it for two more minutes, and then it will be my turn, okay?”

It usually works. And when it doesn’t, she approaches me for assistence, radiating competence and the attitude that we’re both in this together. She’s not tattling, she is information-sharing. Really information-sharing.

“Mary, Tyler is not sharing, again. (Here she rolls her eyes and heaves a “can’t-they-be-exasperating?” sigh.) I gave him two minutes, but he’s decided to keep it still. Would you tell him he needs to give it to me, please?”

And during those times when Mary has decided it’s time for a tea-break on the couch and “no I won’t help you with that, I’m having my tea now”, Emily steps into the breach.

She organizes circle times. They sing “Old MacDonald” — because, with Noah in this house NO circle time is complete without four or seven verses of Old MacDonald, and Emily knows this and indulges him. They sing “The Wheels on the Bus” — Tyler’s favourite. They sing “The More We Get Together” — Nissa’s choice.

She organizes games. “We’ll do Ring Around a Rosey. You hold Nissa’s hand, Tyler. Nissa, you have to let him hold your hand. We’re going to play Ring Around a Rosey. GOOD girl!”

If you just want to drown in cute, it’s four toddlers playing Ring Around a Rosey, completely unfettered by adult intervention. My tea-breaks last a lot longer when Emily is in charge, because it’s just so damned adorable. Lordy.

Lots of little girls take on the role of mini-mum. At my place, Emily is a mini-Mary.

Only she’s way cuter. 🙂

January 27, 2010 Posted by | Developmental stuff, Emily, individuality, the cuteness!, whining | , , , | 6 Comments

It’s my Christmas miracle

Nissa, as I’ve said before, is a busy baby.

And four-year-olds (as I know I have mentioned previously but can’t find the posts, dammit) have a fondness for the Rules which can make them a tad officious. Little police-men and tattlers of the daycare. Nigel, who is with us today, is very definitely four. He’s always been a bit anal, with a strong tendency to get anxious when things aren’t done PRECISELY as they have Always! Been! Done!!! Put anxiety-boy plonk in the middle of the RulesRUs stage, and you have a recipe for a day filled with tattling, power struggles, recrimination, finger-pointing, shouting, stomping..

I brace myself. Practice my deep breathing. Dust off my practiced anti-tattling sentences. (“Is anyone bleeding? Is it dangerous? No? Then you don’t need to tell me.”)


“No, Nissa, you can’t do that. Let’s colour.”
“That is too small to put in your mouth. You can have this crayon instead.”
“Nissa, I don’t think you’re allowed to stand on the couch.”
“Hey, Nissa. I can put your bib on for you.”
“If you spit out that playdough, I will make you a snake.”

Once in a while, you get that perfect, near-miraculous combination of the Rule-bound 4-year-old who can express the rules with sensitivity and respect (!!!) and a 19-month-old who has stars in her eyes and will do ANYTHING that Big Boy says.

And then, my friends? THEN you have achieved Nirvana. If only for the moment.

December 7, 2009 Posted by | manners, Nigel, Nissa, socializing | , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The how and how not of tattling

Tattler“Mary! Mary, Tyler ate a piece of apple!”
“Mary! Nissa’s playing with the shoes!”
“Mary! He din’ wait for his TURN!”

Malli is visiting us this week. Malli has always been a bit of a prima donna, and a year of school hasn’t lessened this tendency one whit.

“Mary! It is supposed to be MY turn with the ball!”
“Mary! Noah’s touchin’ my cup!”
“Mary! The babies are bumping into me!”

And of course I ask her “Did you talk to [whoever] about it?” And of course she hasn’t. So of course I send her off to do that thing.

“Mary! He has all the books!”
“Mary! She is stompin’ her feet and I don’t LIKE that!”
“Mary! Emily says her daddy is bigger than my daddy!”

And of course I drill her in “Is anyone hurt? Is it dangerous? Is anyone bleeding?” And of course, every time the answer is NO, NO, and NO. “Well, unless it’s DANGEROUS, or someone could get HURT, or someone is BLEEDING, you don’t need to tell me.”

Ten times an hour. All morning long. (YES, she’s gotten worse since the last time I saw her. Her JK teacher must just love her to bits…)

And then, William’s voice calls out in alarm.

“Mary! Tank’s on top of the table!”

And so he is. With this climbing machine in the house, I’ve taken to my standby response: render the tabletop inaccessible by either pushing the benches right under the table, or by tipping them upside down. So far the first solution (easier for me) is working just fine. Tank hasn’t figured out how to push the benches out again, so he just climbs onto the bench, and then complains mightily when his head bashes repeatedly into the underside of the table.

And I laugh. Mwah-ha.

So how could Tank be up on the table? Has he learned to push the benches out? No.

See, Malli is lingering at her snack. The rest of us — including the Tankmeister — have long since left the table. But Malli is … savouring her pears and apples. Sitting on a bench.

And Tank, being Tank, has seen his opportunity, scrambled up the bench and scaled the tabletop.

And now sits on the table, RIGHT BESIDE MALLI. Malli the Tattle Queen? Who tells me EVERYTHING? Every TINY infraction of even POTENTIAL rules?

Malli has not said a word. Not.One.Word.

I think she hates me.

August 19, 2009 Posted by | Malli, Peeve me, socializing, the dark side | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Just do it! Or not.

dripdrop2Timmy climbs up on the bench beside me, where I am diligently blog-surfing playing Facebook Scramble tidying up after crafts.

“Maaaarryyyy….” his voice is a tremulous quaver. “Emily did something to meeee…”

This is not an example of Information Sharing. This is just plain old tattling. And it’s whiny tattling, at that. The kind that makes you want to poke your eardrums out, because that would be less painful than listening to it.

I have had three nights of insufficient sleep. The children are VERY LOUD today, due to my decision (borne of insufficient sleep, obviously), that I am TOO TIRED to take them outside. So now I am trapped in the house with five children under four DESPERATELY IN NEED OF EXERCISE. Kill me now.

No, never mind. I’m obviously doing a fine job of that all by myself.

“Timmy, I’ll do something to you if you don’t go talk to Emily about it. Go on, now.” (What? We’ve been working on this “don’t tell me, tell the one who’s involved” for weeks now. And I’m tired.)

He wanders over to the kitchen door, and calls into the kitchen.

“Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily? Emily?”

She must’ve looked up eventually, probably with the feeling that she’s undergoing some kind of personalized Chinese water torture (can I say that? that’s not way non-PC?), because lord only knows that’s how I’M feeling about it right now. Death by a thousand mosquito bites. No! Insanity by a solitary mosquito whining in your ear that just. will. not. die.

She must’ve looked up, I say, because he stopped with the water torture, and continued.

“Emilyyyyyy, don’t do iiiiiiit.”

I am quite sure that Emily has no more idea than I what “it” might be, and evidently she decided not to sweat it. There was no discernable change in the activity level in the kitchen. Timmy paused a moment… then went, humming a slightly mangled version of “Rudolph”, to the living room to pull stuff out from under the couch cushions.

For today, that’s good enough for me.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Peeve me, the dark side, Timmy, whining | , , , | 1 Comment

It’s all in your head. Sometimes.

1119963_meditation___“Mary, Anna took my paper!”
“Mary, Tyler is playing with the boots!”
“Mary, Emily bumped me!”
“Mary, Noah is trying to eat my plum!”

It’s a gentle whine, not a cry of outrage. Whatever the tone of voice, however, the content bears witness to the unfortunate fact:

Timmy has entered The Tattling Time. One of my all-time least favourite toddler passages.


It is inexpressibly tedious to be dragged into each and every teeny conflict, to be expected to mediate and chastise, my role to stand behind the tattler and put the other guy in her place.


I am no one’s hired bully-boy, little man.

My response is well-practiced, and in fact these three deal with their squabbles pretty well. In the case of the purloined paper, given that Timmy’s picture was directly in front of Timmy, and Anna’s in front of her, it seems this one had been resolved, too. Before he even spoke to me.

So, really, there was no need for my input at all. This is possibly the most exasperating manifestation of The Tattling Time: The Totally Pointless Tattle.

Bleah, bleah, bleah.

“Anna took your paper?”
“And you told her to give it back?”
“And then Anna gave it back?”
“Did you say ‘sorry’ when you gave it back, Anna?”
“So, there you go! You used your words, and Anna listened, and it’s all fixed now. You fixed the problem all by yourselves! Good job!” We all three beam at each other, we maybe even clap our hands and do a small happy dance, so pleased are we with ‘our’ handling of this small crisis.

There. We’ve rehearsed the protocol, we’ve reinforced their appropriate behaviour, we’ve arrived at an emotionally satisfactory ending, all without me being drawn into the Enforcer role. It’s what I do, every time. It’s an effective response, and will, in time, help to reduce the incidence of tattling.

I have tried also adding, “…so you don’t need to tell me at all!” Picture my hopeful smile, eyebrows raised, head nodding. “You can do it, kid! Have the problem, address the problem, and solve the problem, all without dragging Mary in as your Enforcer.

That has been less effective. In fact, I would go so far as to say it was 100% ineffective.

I am sooooo tired of the Totally Pointless Tattle. So very, very tired. But Timmy is driven to tell me these things. Driven, I tell you.

And therein lay the solution to my problem. Entirely within my control, too.

This morning? This morning I made a decision. I would perform a conscious and deliberate attitude shift. No longer will these exchanges be examples of the Totally Pointless Tattle. Now they are simply “Information Sharing.”

To-dah! With a simple switch of mental gears, Timmy is not begging for my punitive intervention. He is not expecting me to don the brass knuckles. No, he is merely telling me what just happened, keeping me apprised of their little exchanges.

And me, I am rehearsing and reinforcing good behaviour and appropriate responses.

He’s saying what he was saying before. I’m saying what I was saying before. It’s all exactly the same as before, and yet, amazingly, about 84% less irritating.

Mind over attitude, baybeee! Mind over attitude. Ohmmmmm…

December 18, 2008 Posted by | behavioural stuff, socializing, whining | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Better parenting through laziness

“Mary! Anna hit me!”

Entirely possible. Anna’s a dominant little thing, and when her excellent social skills and superbly infectious chortle don’t soften up the opposition and get her her own way, she’s not above popping someone. She is, after all, two years old.

The temptation is to march off to investigate. Did Anna actually hit him, and if so, what, if anything, had been the precursor? Not that there’s a valid reason for slugging a friend, but oftentimes the culpability for these little exchanges is shared. The involved parties are not so much assailant and victim as they are partners in mayhem.

But … Timmy is awfully prone to this behaviour, this seeking adult involvement, demanding redress from a Higher Authority. (In this case, me.) He’s not a tattle-tale yet, but he’s heading in that direction, and I’ve been down that road in the past. The constant demands of a tattler for justice is very, very, very, very, very, very, very tedious. Mind-numbing. The persistance of a steady drip-drip-drop of water that turn a rock into a few grains of sand. Tattling, for me, is right up there with whining as the Chinese water torture of parenting.

I simply do not get paid enough to accept that level of boredom ten hours a day. I don’t know if there is an amount that would make it tolerable to be that bored ten hours a day.

But if you don’t do something, violence is liable to break out, right? There’s been an aggression. Tot A, who perceives himself (rightly or wrongly) as victim, is bent on justice/vengeance, and if you don’t provide it, they’ll get it themseves. And then you’ll have Tot B at your elbow, complaining that she’s been wallopped.

I confess that my response to this sort of tattling was born of sheerest laziness. I did not want to deal with this, I did not want to have to go and hunt out both parties and sort it through, I did not want yet another he-said, she-said” exchange. But you can’t just say “Sort it out”, because two-year-olds “sort” with their fists. If they’ve never been taught to “sort it out”, they have no idea how. You can say that to seven-year-olds. With two-year-olds, it’s a cop-out that’s only going to end in escalating violence.

So, much as I’d like to say “sort it out”, I won’t be doing that. But do I have to get up, when I just poured myself a cup of tea? Because if I leave that thing sitting there, we all know what will happen. Do I have to forfeit my paltry-but-treasured three minutes of relaxation? Do I have to?

No, I don’t. I don’t have to charge into the next room to sort it out for them, either; I don’t even have to help them sort it out. I certainly don’t expect them to be able to sort it out themselves. But what then? Aren’t those all your options?

Read on, my dears, and bask in my words of brilliance.

I lean forward, with a look of sincere concern on my face, take his hands in mind, and say with warm supportiveness,

“Timmy, did you use your words?”
“Did you say, ‘Anna, don’t hit me’?”
“Yes. I say, ‘Anna don’t hit me!’ ”
“And is Anna hitting you any more?”
(Obvious question. Timmy is here with me, and Anna, whatever she may or may not have been doing three minutes prior, is in another room, not hitting him.)

I sit up straight, and fix a beaming, joyous smile upon his earnest visage.

“Well, good for you! It worked! Anna hit you, and you used your words, and now Anna isn’t hitting you any more! You used your words, and it worked!! Good job!”

I smile, I clap, I am practically delerious with joy at the boy’s accomplishment. Timmy trots off, happy, Anna is playing with the blocks in the next room. And I don’t have to get up and let my tea go cold.

Sheerest laziness brought me to this strategy. Inertia, even. But when you examine the response, it’s excellent.

The child who comes to you is seeking any number of things: justice, vengeance, comfort, indignation, attention, reassurance. If you charge in and sort things out, a few things happens:
1. You become his enforcer. With that kind of reward, why would he stop coming to you? You’re creating the very thing you’re trying to avoid: a tattler.
2. You’re showing him you don’t expect him to be able to do this on his own, or that
3. His attempts to solve his own conflict were inadequate.

However, when you outline what has already occurred, and frame it in terms of conflict-management, you are:
1. Giving the child support, attention, and reassurance, all worth emotional goals.
2. You make sure you are not integral to the process. (So you’re less likely to be called in next time!)
3. You are reinforcing the child’s strategy.
4. You are supporting the child’s own efforts at conflict-resolution.

(Now, if the child has not used their words, then you have to get involved to get the child to talk to the other child, etc. But generally, as soon as a child is verbally able to tell you about it, they would almost certainly have lodged some sort of verbal protest with the aggressor before coming to find you. “Hey! No! Stop that!” is perfectly reasonable use of words.)

And yeah, I’m likely stretching the facts just a little, because we all know that if the child hadn’t charged off to find me, the other child’s response to his howl of protest would probably have been to pop him one again. But that’s okay. We’re working on principles here. We want the child to understand what the process is, that he’s done things correctly, and know that he can be the agent of his own conflict resolution, not you. When he can routinely and effectively resolve conflict on his own (which will take years, of course), you can put one tick on your Successful Parenting checklist.

Because really, what is effective parenting but working yourself out of a job?

April 21, 2008 Posted by | aggression, parenting | , , , | 16 Comments