Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Give it back!

I remember a situation I witnessed at the zoo that has me be more alert to similar situations at home.

There was a woman talking with another adult. While she was talking she wanted to take her about 8 year old son's bottle to take a swig.

I couldn't tell if the drink was the woman's bottle, or if it was the boy's bottle.

However, she asked him once to give it to her and he said no. She then continued talking with the other adult and simply used her size and force to tear the bottle out of the boy's hands.

The boy wasn't impressed, and shortly after that we moved on, so I don't know what happened next. I have a feeling the boy just gave up since it was obvious that he couldn't win this fight against a bigger and stronger person.

What made me think about this is how often I find myself in a similar situation with my toddler.

A toddler finds adult things very enticing (my glass with straw in it, scissors, small tools, felt pens, etc). Often, he may reach for it and proceed to play with it, and then I have to come up with a way to get the item back, particularly if it's a dangerous item for a toddler to have.

I could do what the woman did and just snatch it out of Benjamin's hands.
Or yell.
Or give a long-winded explanation that likely would just go over his head anyway.

But everytime this happens, I have a fleeting moment where I think of the woman at the zoo.

Kids copy adults, particularly adults whom they love and trust.

What are the odds that her 8 year old does the same thing his mother demonstrated to another child at school or the playground?

I want Benjamin to know the difference between what's mommy's or daddy's and what's not. Or what mommy and daddy consider safe to share with him. I also want him to understand about sharing, and "your turn, my turn".

It's not that hard, but it takes time and diligence to not use force and size to retrieve an item back from chubby hands.

I give short reasons like "no, this is mommy's drink", offer him another item "this is Ben's cup".
Or, "put mommy's drink on this table, thank you".
Or, "you can drink from mommy's straw if I hold it".

Sometimes I get close to taking the item away from him, particularly if it's scissors or a knife. But I never take it without a comment to him directly.

Even dangerous objects can be replaced with "Ben's scissors" or "here's a plastic knife", or, "where is your tool box, this is mommy's screwdriver".

But so far it has worked. He's accepted, sometimes with protest, which is ok, that certain items he simply can't have.

I hope to keep this in mind as he grows.

PS I have tolerated protests in various forms and volume, including temper tantrums. That's inevitable. How I deal with these is another post.

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