Posts Tagged ‘ playground ’

People Still Hated Me for Calling Coddlers Idiots. So…Here Goes. Again.

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

I can only hope that the reason so many people disagreed with my follow-up post on coddling your kid is because I used poor examples. My post focused on constantly seeing parents “asking” rather than “telling” their kids to do the right–and obvious–thing. My specific examples were when one kid took Emmett’s toy and the parent failed to have him give it back. The other was a little girl sitting on top of a slide for 10-15 minutes and the parent not having her come down or move out of the way so other kids could use it.

What I said repeatedly was it was part of a larger problem we have with parents afraid to teach their kids proper boundaries. Guys: IT WAS EMBLEMATIC OF A LARGER PROBLEM!

But my mistake was ranting on two examples where the punishment didn’t fit the crime. In my mind, I’ve seen so many ludicrious situations of parents not parenting, that these put me over the edge. However, it’s my bad for not conveying better scenarios. And thus, many of you just saw a crazy lady ranting over a toy.

What I should have ranted on is the kid who threw Fia off the swing 6 months ago because he was jealous that his mother was pushing her. The mom simply shrugged, hugged him, then said, “He gets jealous if I even look at another kid.” As if that is n-o-r-m-a-l.

I should have ranted on the kid who threw sand in Emmett’s face 4 different times and was allowed to continue. We left the area. Not him.

My original examples weren’t strong enough to call parents idiots. But I hope these are.

Or what about the kid who came over for a playdate, found a 4-foot stick in our yard and started waving it around, nearly decapitating Fia. The mom’s response? “I like it when he experiments. I don’t like to tell him no.” Oh, okay. Well I will.

“Hey Simon, can I take that stick so we don’t hit somebody?”

“No!” he shouted and ran off with it.

(Of course looking back I realize my fatal flaw: I asked. Didn’t tell.)

I decided to use distraction to get the stick-weilding maniac and idiot parent to move on to something less dangerous. I turned on the hose so they could splash around. Guess what he did? In a matter of seconds, he turned it up all the way, sprayed the entire side of our house (where the windows were open, thus drenching our kitchen), then sprayed Fia in the face. Of course, I immediately turned it off. Not because the mom told me too. She had no real problem with it. All she said was, “Simon, we really shouldn’t spray water at people should we?” Oh perfect. Let’s ask him. He didn’t give a sh-t. He had no boundaries. Needless to say we never had a second date.

Now, tell me, all of you who disagreed with me: Do you still? Do you possibly see what I’m saying?

People seem to be fixated on my two examples and are losing the forest through the trees. Maybe that’s because they don’t want to see it. The people who have experienced what I have totally understood my points and I thank you for backing me up.

“I completely agree with you! This is what is wrong with so many children today. They are brought up without correction or proper guidance on what is right and wrong. I am always the one to back down and direct my children to something else just because of a misguided child and I’m tired of it too.”

 But here’s a classic naysayer:

“I sincerely hope myself and especially my child do not ever have the unfortunate fate of running into such a distasteful mother. I can only imagine how this woman’s children will turn out.”

I will tell you how they are turning out: polite, patient, well-behaved, and not jealous of my love for them or any other child. But when I said that in my follow up, I got chastised for “bragging.”

I find myself not only hated but also completely perplexed by those who don’t “get” what I’m saying. Luckily, I’m not alone. Just Google “entitled kids” and you’ll see the epidemic it’s become. It’s debated on talk shows and news programs, it’s repeatedly a front-page headline on many mainstream magazines and newspapers, and it has nearly taken over the blogosphere. So I do get comfort knowing that most people who disagree with me are “those parents” whom so many of us are taking issue with (unless my examples were poor–which I take responsibility for–and now you get it). So don’t worry. I don’t want a playdate with you either.

I went to a parenting seminar at Fia’s school this week. A woman who is a registered nurse and a professional educator in the parenting arena taught it. Her name is Amity Hume Grimes. She’s not famous; she doesn’t have a book (yet). But what she told a crowded room of parents seemed to resonate with all of us. Here’s what she said when I asked the question: “Should you ask your kids to do something like give a toy back, or should you tell them?”

“If there’s not a choice to be made, then you don’t ask. You tell. The only time you would ask in that situation is if you wanted to give them a choice on whom to give it back to, i.e.: “Do you want to hand it to me or put it back on the ground?” You don’t just stand there asking a toddler over and over if they want to give it back. Especially if the toddler isn’t responding.”

Sidenote: I’m not talking about autistic or special needs kids in any of these scenarios. I know that is different.

She also concurred that parents nowadays are so afraid of tears and tantrums. They want to keep their kids shielded from any discomfort, which isn’t smart. Or good. Mainly because it’s completely unrealistic. You aren’t setting your kid up for real life if they’re constantly coddled.

“Children need to experience the consequences of their own actions in an age-appropriate manner in order for them to develop into self-confident, responsible individuals,” Grimes says.

Amen. Parenting is not a democracy. And if you treat it as such, it will backfire and the world will be a place of high-anxiety for your child. Not to mention a nightmare for the rest of us. Is that what you want? Like she said, tantrums and tears are the only way young kids can express their frustration. So let them. And teach them in the process.

I challenge any of you naysayers to find me a parenting expert who says kids should never cry, they should never be told what to do, and they should only be asked and given choices. And by god, find me one who thinks it’s okay if a 4- or 5-year-old gets jealous if you hug another child. It happens, but shouldn’t it be worked on? Don’t you want your child to have self-confidence and security that you have enough love to go around? When you find that person ask them if it’s also okay to hit, pull hair, throw sand, take toys or hog a playground without any consequence.

Ask them if a mommy blogger (me) who says that she parents with love, patience, and guidance, thus producing polite, well-adjusted kids, is “bragging.”

Oh, and while you’re at it, I would also love for you to find a parent who likes to brag about their self-indulgent child and their neglectful parenting practices.

“Simon hit a girl with a stick and I was so proud!”

So there you go.

The past two playground trips have been amazing for me. Why? Because for some reason there are a lot of grandparents around right now. And man, do they ever get it. Emmett and a boy his age played with toys they both brought. The grandparent encouraged his grandson to play and share and I did the same. They had so much fun. No one grabbed. No one hit or threw sand. But that grandparent was patient, loving, and firm.

Fia had the same experience just yesterday with a little 3-year-old girl and her grandfather.  They played ring around the rosy, hugged, went down the slide together, and did the swings. We didn’t have to intervene once. It was clear these kids were raised with rules, boundaries, and love. And I’m guessing there were probably a few tears and tantrums along the way.

So maybe all you who disagree should ask yourself this question when it comes to society’s epidemic of coddled kids: Are You Part Of The Solution? Because it not, then you’re part of the problem.


Pic of hair pulling via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

I Said Coddlers Were Idiots. People Got Mad. Let Me Explain.

Friday, March 21st, 2014

It’s funny as to what strikes a chord of passion and/or fury when I write a blog. I’m always surprised at the parts in my post that people take issue with, agree with or despise. I can never predict. So it came as a total shock when someone alerted me that my Parents Who Coddle Are Idiots post went viral. I began looking at the countless comments and began to realize how my rant didn’t translate to a lot of people.  I can take the hatred in the comments. But I don’t like it when I’m not understood. However, that’s my bad for ranting, complete with profanity, and thus losing the main focus.

What resonated with a lot of people was my perceived lack of patience. I said a little boy wouldn’t give Emmett his toy back. I said it took the father asking him 3 times, and about 60 seconds to get exactly nowhere. It’s not a long time. But it became clear pretty quick that the scenario wasn’t going to change by asking asking asking. We could have stood there 10 minutes and probably gotten the same response (though I would hope that the parent would finally intervene. Who knows?)

The bigger point is that at this age and with toys/objects–frankly almost anything in societal norms– unless you are firm from the beginning, no 2-year-old is going to instinctively know what to do. A toddler won’t “want” to give something back or else he/she wouldn’t have grabbed it in the first place. If the child is raised with parents who ask, ask, plead, plead, with everything but don’t take charge, then guess what? That kid is always going to think they have a choice.  To hit, grab, steal, throw food, pull hair. This goes far beyond the playground. This is about parenting with clear rules and boundaries.

When I finally said, “Let’s give that back,” and gently took the toy from the little boy, he didn’t cry. He just went onto the next thing. I didn’t grab. I didn’t yell. I was nice. But I stated it instead of asking. I simply don’t see the harm in that. However, a lot of commenter’s said similar things to the one below:

…”What if a stranger prying the car out of his hands sent him into a meltdown? It would have been more appropriate for you to ask dad to grab it instead of you physically intervening.

Sure I could have asked the dad. And then maybe he would have asked his kid. Again. If the child had a meltdown, then I would have stepped back and let him deal with it. Frankly, I probably would have told him to just keep the toy. But that’s because I find myself all too often being the mom who backs down when other people’s kids aren’t behaving. Even on playdates when a child is being bratty to mine, I am almost always the one who says, “Fia, why don’t you go play in a different area,” etc. But I am sick of being the one who changes gears for the kids who are coddled. If their parents were more direct with them, it wouldn’t put me in this position. In this scenario, I found that by simply stating I wanted it back made for a very easy pass over. The toddler basically handed it and I took it. The reason it was so simple is most likely because he was told what to do.

I know from the comments, many of the people who “got” my post will know exactly what I’m talking about here. Seems like these people have had similar experiences as mine:

  • Excellent!!! I feel the same and what sucks are that bratty kids make it hard on the kids who have parents that “tell”" them what to do!!
  • I love this article and am glad to see that there are parents out there that are not afraid to be a parent. I am not my child’s friend nor do I intend to be. Say what you want but I NEVER have these problems with my kids because they respect what I say when I say it.
  • Love this!! Well said!!! Parents are parents first and friends later! It’s ok for your child to get mad at you. We are their adversary!! All these spoiled bratty whiny kids running around controlling their grown parents. It’s sad and pathetic really.

One commenter even directed me to a post she wrote about the type of parent to avoid at the playground.

From the time my kids could interact, I’ve tried to be clear and firm in sharing. I do it with love and I do it with patience. Sure there are times it doesn’t work, and of course it depends on the kid (and the parent). But my kids are not the grabbing type. They also listen really well and usually share really well (which their teachers consistently tell me. Emmett, my wild boy, apparently sits better than a bunch of 3-year olds in circle time).  They also have incredibly happy temperaments. I don’t think that’s just luck. I also think it’s cool my kids are so well behaved. Kids learn quickly to be polite, to share, to not hit, to not grab. They like rules. And order. I think parents who have kids who grab or don’t share, aren’t realizing how simple it is to teach your children basic etiquette. It may take a few tantrums and time-outs, but to me it’s been well worth it.

I hope this clarifies why my original post wasn’t a matter of being “more patient” or as some called me, “a bully.” I’ll wrap up with this woman’s comment:

How would it feel if they turned around and said YOU’RE not parenting right because you are impatient and don’t let your kids figure things out for themselves? 

I know exactly what I would do. I would tell them my kids do think for themselves. And what they think and know is that they don’t grab other people’s toys. And if they do, they give it back. Promptly. No “asking” required.

Find out what your parenting style is here.

Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep
Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep
Mom Confessions: Parenting Rules I Thought I'd Keep

Add a Comment

My Preschool Decision With Emmett

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Any preconceived notions I had about raising gender-neutral kids went out the window when I had a boy. While Fia has always been a girl with an adventurous, tomboy spirit, she has also had this soft, ethereal and empathetic way about her. Butterflies land on her. The cat loves her.

Cut to Emmett who any day now is going to fall off this banquette and land on his face. Our first ER visit was last weekend. I’m shocked it took this long.

Em bulldozed into the world with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, a pointy elf-like ear, and a grin that said, “Hey, Mama, you ready for me? Because it’s going to be a wild ride.”

(Pictured here with Phil’s mom)

As he grew, his ear lobe straightened out, but his hair became covered in crazy curls (unlike Phil and I, who have straight hair). And the more the curls came in, the wilder he got. At 5 months we called him Thumper because he would thump his legs up and down in the crib or on the changing table, giggling all the while. My pediatrician declared him the most active child she’s ever seen.

He is also about the happiest child ever and does have a side that will sit still and page through books for 20-30 minutes at a time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he reads by 3. He is also super cuddly and sweet. He’s not a hitter or a grabber. But because he’s more curious than a cat (who only has 9 lives), we are on constant deathwatch.  The other morning I turned my back for 10 seconds to help Fia. Em was gone. I found him standing on top of the toilet tank pounding at the window. Our house is quickly becoming a prison, where we are the guards and he is the inmate trying to outsmart us in his escape.

This is why we decided as soon as he turned two, we would put him in preschool. We asked ourselves what is he going to enjoy more? Being with a sitter twice a week or running errands with me (he crawled into the dryer at Sears last week)–or in a structured, safe environment where he can learn and play with other kids? The answer is obvious. Of course I had the usual mom guilt–for about 3 seconds.

Today is his first day and I think he is as thrilled as we are. The director has been sending me pictures and text updates, “Emmett is doing fabulous. He sat through circle time beautifully, he ate ALL his oatmeal and is loving yard play with his new friends.”

I, too, am doing fabulous. I’m sitting across the street from his preschool catching up on my life, writing, and breathing a big sigh of relief. The boy is happy and safe. And I’m free. In another 2 hours I’ll be ready to grab him back and kiss those curls. Until then, his new friends and teachers can.

Add a Comment

Stranger Danger: When To Teach It?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

I was having one of those moments where my mind became a runaway train. I went down the “what if” road. I won’t even start elaborating on my deepest darkest fears when it comes to my kids, but suffice it to say, if I let my brain take over, it plays out nearly every bad scenario imaginable.

I think it stems from the fact Fia is starting a new pre-school in the fall. It’s a Montessori that I’ve heard nothing but good and great things about. However, it is a bigger school and unlike the intimate setting she has now, I am having irrational thoughts about her getting lost. Or stolen.

Granted the whole place is gated and as of this writing, they have never “lost” a kid. Plus, Fia is an uber rule-follower. When they line up after playground time (within the confines of the locked metal fence), the teachers do a head count. Then they walk–still surrounded by the fence–to their classroom. It’s about 10 steps. Within those 10 steps they are never outside the fence. I observed all this first hand. But you know what it’s like when you are in “what-if” territory.  You can easily imagine your child suddenly falling into the hidden tunnel underneath the sandbox that takes them to the outside world and into enemy territory. Kind of like the Gaza Strip smuggling tunnels.

When I brought myself back from the brink of madness, I realized I do actually have a legitimate question. When do you teach your kid about “Stranger Danger?”

She is going to be 3 1/2 when she starts. Her world is still a very safe place. I don’t want to put unnecessary fears in her, as she does tend to be a bit obsessive (big surprise). But I also don’t want her to be naive and unaware. So before I lose any more mind space over this, or decide to umm, home school her (no), can someone give me some advice?


Add a Comment

Do Children See Skin Color?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, believes that children do see skin color and that it’s up to parents to teach them it doesn’t matter.

I don’t generally get worked up over things I read on Facebook but earlier this month a friend posted something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.

My friend was with her girls at the playground. A little girl with blonde hair approached her and asked if she was the girls’ mom or their babysitter. When my friend told the little girl that she was their mother the little girl said: “Well they look different than you. You know, their skin is darker and yours is like mine.”

My friend looks similar to me. She’s a taller-than-average white girl with shoulder-length brown hair and fair skin. Her daughters are both blessed with beautiful dark brown hair and skin that’s a creamy shade of caramel. What I would give for skin like that. Those lucky little ladies got it from their father whose family comes from Ecuador (though he’s pretty light himself).

One of the cool things about my friend is that she doesn’t have thin skin, fair though it may be. But something about her encounter with the little girl left her feeling sad. After explaining the scenario on Facebook she wrote: “I can only say that for various reasons, I don’t think that what happened this afternoon was a clear cut case of either curiosity or prejudice.”

Most of the people who commented on my friend’s post saw the exchange as a “teachable moment.” But one woman had this to say:

“[Y]ou taught that little bigot about life. What difference does skin color make…. Most young children do not see skin color unless some adult brought it to there [sic] attention.”

I wasn’t at the playground that day so I can’t speak to the girl’s tone or demeanor but to call a little girl a bigot? Wow. That’s harsh. And to say that children do not see skin color is simply wrong. They just don’t form judgments about people based on skin color. They can’t, because they have no framework in which to do so.

That’s where parents come in. It’s up to us to teach our children that color is, quite literally, only skin deep. It’s up to us to teach them that people come in all colors, shapes and sizes but that skin color and physical characteristics do not define a person. It’s up to us to teach our children that while every person is unique, we are all equal.

Children learn and form assumptions about the world based on what they observe. They just haven’t developed a brain-to-mouth filter that keeps them from asking blunt questions.

In the case of the little girl at the playground, it seems to me that she did the best thing she could have done. She noticed a difference in skin color between my friend and her daughters and asked about it. She made a blunt comment about the difference but her comment, at least as I read it, was free of judgment.

What do you think?

Add a Comment