To the Mothers at the Playground This Morning:
My son is two. Your kids are also toddlers. Toddlers are unsocialized human beings. That means that they act in a very egocentric manner. If they see something they want, they take it. If someone takes something from them, they snatch it back.
Of course, as mothers we try to teach them that they should ask politely, that they should share, and that they should be gracious. Of course we do. But really, they’re going to learn that lesson most effectively from their peers.
I am in the parenting camp that says that toddlers should be allowed to hash out their problems. I stand back as an observer and sometime referee. If my child hits, I will scold him. If my child pushes, I will warn him. I will try to coach him through what he should do to get what he wants (“Ask him to throw you the ball, Oliver!”), and how he should act with others (“Now throw it back to him, Oliver!”). But I realize that he’s still just two, and isn’t going to listen to me all the time.
If your child has a favorite toy, don’t let him bring it to the public playground. Especially if you’re going to get offended when other kids want to play with it. You teach your kid the value of sharing, and I’ll teach mine that if someone says that they don’t want him to play with their toy that he doesn’t get to play with it. But neither kid is going to learn it without lots of practice in real-life situations.
Don’t give me dirty looks because my child wants to play with your child’s toy. They’re kids. They play. He’s two–he thinks that what he wants should be his. It’s not a crime for my son to approach yours and try to take his toy to play with. That’s how he’s going to learn. Your son won’t let him get away with it, and Oliver will learn that that isn’t acceptable.