I think we all struggle on our own parenting journey to not need to worry about others. But, here we are… worrying.
There comes a point in time during your baby’s life where you’ll come across other family members or friends that parent their children a little differently than you are. That is perfectly fine and I always say “to each their own” unless it becomes a safety issue, then I share my concerns.
How does one manage and continue their parenting practice with their own children while around other children who aren’t living by the same rules?
It’s hard. There’s definitely moments where you want to say something to the parents, but choose not to because of kids being present. Other times it doesn’t have to be that hard and a simple grown up conversation outside of earshot or even through a group text can help get the point across.
Nowadays, it’s a real struggle to “parent other children”. Back in my day, my friend’s parents were my substitute parents. If I got into trouble while at my friend’s house, I was also punished. That doesn’t really happen now.
A lot of parents are worried they will “cross the line” by stepping in with their friends or family member and err on the side of not saying anything to keep the peace.
But, when it comes to rules and boundaries you place for your children it’s important to keep that enforced — even when other kids don’t follow them.
“In our family we…” is a great sentence to start off with reinforcing a boundary within the family unit. You’re not placing blame on anyone. It’s not a forced rule for the child, it’s a family rule. Everyone in this immediate family follows this rule/boundary.
Sure, it can be hard when you have a young toddler crying because they can’t do the same thing they see someone else doing. But to let them cross a boundary — despite you not wanting it to happen — can create a spiral staircase of problems later on. For example, if they see a friend jumping off the couch, and that’s not allowed at home, do not let them jump off the couch.
If you keep allowing and not allowing certain things to happen depending on situations, your toddler will then question whether or not this “boundary thing” holds truth. If there is no clear set boundary it’ll become a problem for you.
What happens when a kid is setting a “bad example” and your child is following along?
That’s the part I’m struggling with most days. We have certain boundaries we set in place with our toddler. Some are for himself to put in place with friends and some are for his safety. You’ve seen me mention them several times across all boundary posts.
One of the boundaries he can set for himself is that he can say “no” if he doesn’t want to share or do something with someone else. Another is that he needs to use nice words, ask to have a turn, or politely ask for help when he needs it. It’s hard to reinforce those behaviors around other kids, especially when they’re the same age and working on the same skills.
I’ve noticed that no matter how much you establish a “boundary” or a “rule” with your child, once they’re around other kids it goes out the window. Unless your child is a go-getter type personality, then they might be doing just fine. If your child is like mine, they’ll follow the more stronger personality figure and that can lead to a safety issue real quick (Like… running in a parking lot while holding their friend’s hand).
We do our best to talk with our child outside of play dates to make sure he understands to tell someone when he doesn’t like something and we model the behaviors ourselves. We remind him to use phrases like “no, thank you” if he doesn’t want something to happen to him/directed at him or “I’m not done yet” when it comes to sharing a toy he’s playing with.
In the past, he got some pushback from friends that have a hard time hearing the word “no”. That’s when I saw the freeze/fawn response kick in and he handed over something that he wasn’t done with. Now, he stands his ground a little more and says “No! I’m NOT done!”
Admittedly, we have to work on his delivery of how he talks. A lot of the times, it can be a little too aggressive and can cause the other child some great distress. It’s still a work in progress, and I am so proud of how far he’s learned to cope with peer pressure without fawning.
I think I’ve strayed off topic. Normally I do some action points on my posts but today, I decided to just write.
The point I’ve been trying to make is: I can relate to most parents who struggle with reinforcing boundaries around other kids and parents.
But it can be done.
You will get pushback from either your child or their friend. You might even have a difficult conversation with your own friend or family member. Hopefully it can be handled with open minds on both sides and together you can work to foster healthy relationships and friendships between your children.