Kids fight – especially toddlers. Toddlers are all about instant gratification and when you get more than one being in a space that expects to have all his needs met immediately, there’s bound to be some problems. Experience has shown me that the best thing to do when two tyrants collide is let them work it out amongst themselves.
The culture of over-parenting that we find ourselves in isn’t only ruining our own lives, it’s stunting the social skills of our kids. Someone had to say it. Moms have no business working out problems for their tiny minions. Tiny minions need to learn the art of negotiation. Well, we all know they can’t really negotiate, but they need to learn how to share. On their own. Without their mother or father hovering over them assaulting them with directives.
I was at a Brooklyn park with my then two-year-old son one day when a mother and son arrived with a gaggle of toys. He had two bouncy balls, a couple of pails and assorted shovels. The park had a fountain area, and my son and this little boy were the only ones playing in it that day. One of the balls rolled over toward my son and he picked it up. The boy saw and said “Mom! Noooooo! He has my toy!” Mom gets up, walks over to my two-year-old, takes the ball and holds it safely on her lap. This woman actually took a toy from a toddler and held it so it wouldn’t upset her son. I was pretty floored by this behavior.
The boy and his ball meander toward my son and the sprinkler. Boy throws the ball. My son picks it up. Boy is obviously pissed as we know toddlers pretty much hate sharing. They start pulling on the ball. Mom walks over and grabs the ball out of both of their grips and hands it to her child.
I’m not breaking up a fight between toddlers – I’m just not. I blame a parenting atmosphere that accuses us all of being crap parents for looking away from our children for two seconds. I’ve never been to a playground where all the parents just sat along the sidelines and let their kids engage without any interference. I simply haven’t seen it. I understand when toddlers are climbing high jungle gyms and such, but if two kids are playing and a conflict arises – let them work it out. Even if it means that the stronger kid gets the ball. Who cares? That’s a lesson, too.
Basically, we all need to back off. Even if that means just teaching your toddler how to pull on a ball really hard to get it back himself. Whatever. Just let him do it.