Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What I Think About: When to Step In {Advice Ladies!}

Last Tuesday my uber-delightful mom's group had a meet up at our local library (you can read about why I love my mom's group and why I hate Motherbitches here).

While we were there, our children were playing with a giant checker set.  About five of our kids were taking turns sharing the giant foam checkers while building buildings (which is technically frowned upon by the librarians but come on--they are kids!) and pretending to be nesting birds.

Then another girl, similar in age, joined the group.  There was no parent watching this little girl and she slowly took over all the foam checkers--stealing them left and right from our group of kids who had been sharing.

My friend's daughter was pretty bold and said, "Hey, that's not fair!  You have to share!" (and to be fair, our children were trying to share but the other girl was opposed to it!).

Even after my friend's daughter said that, the little girl kept taking checkers.  The other children in our group moved to the side and sort of let the "mean girl" take over.

My friend and I looked at each other.  When should we step in?

I mean, we want our children to stand up for themselves and to fight injustice BUT we also want them to know that we have their back and that we'll stand up for them.

So where is the balance?  Should we have stepped in and told the girl who wouldn't share that she needed to?  Did we do the right thing by letting our kids handle it?

To be honest, it doesn't feel like we did the right thing because all of our children, but one, got "bullied" away from the toys and the one girl who stood resolute, lost all the checkers because she didn't have any support.  She looked at her mom and I with big eyes as if to say, "Is this okay?"

What a tough lesson because sometimes the people with the worst intentions and the worst attitude and who treat people the worst--WIN! 

I hate that.  But at the same time, I don't want my child to be a constant tattle-tale.  I want her to use her voice and her actions to stand up for herself.  How do I cultivate that?

What I think is it is difficult to know when to step in and when to let kids handle a bullying/unjust situation.

Your thoughts?

When do you step in, when do you stay out, and how do you know what step to take?

Please, share your advice.  My friend and I would love to know.

And P.S.  BOO HISS to the parents who, by not watching their child in a public place, put my friends and I in an awkward position to have to "parent" a child we didn't know!

Thanks to Shell at Things I Can't Say for hosting my random Wednesday Rants!


  1. #1 rule for believers...we ARE our brother's keeper. In older times, neighbors would watch out for each other's kids and totally discipline each other's kids. That being said, we don't live 'back then' anymore, and unless we want to be a victim of a drive-by shooting, we had better tread lightly. Although the 'mean' one had a right to play, playing fair is a MUST in a group, and your groups' kiddos deserved to continue playing as such. I would have kindly told the child to share or go back to her mother. When our kids are small, it is important that they know HOW to respond to bullies, but have the safety net of parents when things get tricky. That is the greatest thing abut being a or dad get to SAVE us, lol! I still wish my mama could save me from some situations now...but NO, Imma Grown-up...but who doesn't wish for that safety net?! HUGS to you mama, for caring enough to search for the best way!

  2. That is so frustrating! The mom should have been watching!

    It really depends on the situation. Sometimes I DO step in and say something.

  3. I had a similar incident in the same area. My kids were playing with the checkers and an unsupervised boy came and started throwing the whistle chairs at the checker tower. I gently tried to reprimand him and then when I saw it was going to take more than that, I told my girls that they don't want to play with kids that are going to act like that anyway and redirected them. Shortly thereafter, a librarian came to reprimand the boy.

    It's a tough spot but I think my kids took away the valuable lesson that acting like that doesn't win anyone friends.

  4. Wow! That's such a tough one and I am never sure which way to take it. Recently my kids were in the pool with a little boy that ws spitting on them (GROSS) and i suggested that they tell him to stop. They didn't want to cause a ruckus and after the third time I told him to stop. It was probably the germs that made me step in that time but every now and then you just have to!!

  5. That's such a tough one. I think that it would be fine to have told the little girl that she couldn't take all of the checkers, but that she was more than welcome to join the other children playing. It always seems weird to correct another persons child, but if her parents weren't around someone has to do it!

  6. I dealt with a similiar situation this week as well however it was with 16 yr olds. I am choosing to sit back and keep a close eye on the situation for now, but may have to step in and be a parent to a child that is otherwise not being parent-ed..

  7. I think at first I would see if my child would speak up, like your friend's daughter did. But since that didn't change anything, is that when you step in and support your children? Maybe help them figure out what to say next? When you leave talk with them about the situation, what they did, what the other child did that was wrong.

    Other questions: If you see the other child's parent, is it ever ok to say something to them? If so, what should be said?

  8. I actually thought that the situation worked itself out :) The little girl left after about five minutes and the checkers were free for everyone else to play with. When we got home, I talked to my daughters about what happened and we agreed that when you don't share with others, no one will want to play with you. So, I think they learned an important lesson about getting along with other people. :)

  9. I'm not sure about the right answer to this question. But since they are young, I probably would have stepped in after a few of the kids spoke up. Since they stood up for themselves, although ineffective, I probably would have at that point stepped in and told the other little girl to share or go away.

    But maybe I helicopter too much. ;)


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