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ı have a19 months old daughter.She likes to be with children but at playdates some children dont behave nicely,and dont wnat to share and that really upsets her and cries adn want to leave the space.that also hurts me. what to do?

By January 7, 2010 - 7:57am
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Dear Banu-

Everything Alison said!

What is important to remember is that kids the world over exhibit much of the same behavior naturally. They go through stages of never wanting parental separation (to the point that they want their parents to physically hold them literally every waking hour) to temper tantrums and on. Not wanting to share is necessarily a "stage" - more of a developmental milestone (sharing) that hasn't yet been reached. All humans are selfish and self-absorbed until they are taught by society (primarily their parents in the beginning) that sharing and less self-absorption is not only better for society, but better in the long run for the child herself. Of course, lots of humans end up vain, self-obsessed adults but at least we other adults get to avoid them for the most part and discontinue an association.

What's most important with playgroups now, as Alison said, is parenting styles, rather than the children. Children this age behave pretty much how their parents instruct them too. So an over-indulged child is this way because she has an over-indulging parent. Children mimic what they see and if not redirected by the parent, can cause havoc in group play situation. (this is one of the reasons I'm so glad I don't playdates anymore with other parents and kids that I don't know well. Parents who use the time to ignore their kids or parents who encourage bad behavior by allowing their kids to be disruptive drive me crazy).

Your best bet right now is to stick with others who have a similar parenting style to you. It's then more likely that their kids will behave accordingly. Don't expect good behavior from all these toddlers. Expect problems sharing, tantrums and fighting. This happens because the children are not developed mentally enough to know otherwise.
The same way we don't expect toddlers to run fast, climb walls and eat with a knife and fork, remains the same for their play behavior. As they cannot physically do a lot yet, nor can they mentally. So arguing over toys is normal. So is crying and tantrums. Keep an eye on your baby so that she is well treated but don't expect (and don't make her expect) all playdates to be gentle and sweet. At this age, they are not, no matter how hard you try. It's ok for a argument to erupt. It's a learning experience for the kids. As parents, our job is to guide them to make the right choice, not jump in and fix everything (although that is necessary too, if things get out of hand) . Your daughter is just going to have to learn to work with kids who aren't easy to get along with. Later, she can chose her own friends but she'll always have to have contact with people who are difficult to get along with (whether it's work or school or other areas of life). Playdates are a good start to choosing good friends and keeping those difficult ones at a distance, albeit a polite one!

You may find that when your daughter is two and three years old, she may also have problems sharing and trust me, she'll have a lot of tantrums too - they all do. Much of it is normal, developmental staging. Find the parents who parent like you and you may see a great improvement in your playdates!

January 8, 2010 - 12:28pm

Great question...I've recently been going through this for the past 1.5 years (I have a 3 year old), and here are some hints, tips and hopefully helpful advice. I would love to hear from other parents, too, as there are as many different parenting styles as there are parents!

Most Important:
Know that this will get better with time, as your daughter is able to verbally express herself to the other kids.

A few tips, in the meantime:
1. Be your daughter's advocate and voice, until she can be her own. When another child takes a toy from your daughter that she is clearly playing with, you can say, "We don't take toys from others. You can have this toy instead."

2. If the other kid throws a total fit, your daughter doesn't really care either way, then you can ask your daughter (loud enough for the other child to hear), "It is your choice if you would like to share this toy now, or in 5 minutes when you are done playing with it."

Of course, it really depends on the group dynamics, the particular child on a particular day, how "new" you are to the group, etc.

What is OK, normal and expected at playgroups:
1. Children are not supposed to share at this age; even the 3 year olds have a difficult time, so this is the norm for the next few years!
2. Children are OK when they get frustrated and upset, and it can be a great lesson (for her to hear you model the appropriate words and gestures), and she will also know how it feels on the other side, when SHE doesn't want to share ("Remember how upset you got when someone else took your toy? Now Billy is upset, and we share our toys with our friends."
3. It is also great for the other moms to see/hear how you handle the situation, because every mom is upset when their child is either on the receiving end of the toy being taken away, or if their child is taking the toys from others.

What's Not OK in the group:
1. Other moms giving you dirty looks for redirecting children's behavior. In a playgroup setting, it needs to be OK for all moms to help redirect each other's children with their play. It is not OK to discipline the other kids, but redirect and help the two kids problem solve together...this modeling of behavior really will help them as they begin to talk more!
2. Aggressive behavior from the kids. All kids have bad days, but if one particular child continually takes the other's toys (or, just picks on one child individually), and takes toys in a mean, angry, aggressive manner...this is not OK. Most of the time, most of the kids take a toy from another child because they are curious and it looks better when someone else is holding it! If the child says, "mine!", and it is at someone else's house, it's easy to say, "No, it is not your toy. It is Billy's, and he is nice enough to share his toys with his friends today." "My daughter was playing with it first, then you can play with it when she's done (or in 2 minutes or whatever will lessen the emotions)."
3. Absence of Parenting. Some groups I've been in have a few moms who use the playgroup time as "mom time", and do not watch their child at all. They let them run wild, not obey house rules, let them take toys from other kids, etc. Playgroups ARE great times for moms to get together, but the first priority is to help the kids learn to be in a group setting, especially at this age. Moms can get together for a "moms-only" get-together, but if kids are invited, the moms should not completely relax and be off-duty while other moms are having to "deal" with their child. In this instance, again, depending on group dynamics, you can talk with the mom or the group-as-a whole...let me know if this is your issue, and we can brainstorm some ways to solve this problem!

I hope this helps; it would be helpful if you could tell us more about your playgroup, as I'm assuming the kids are all the same age. Do the moms watch/observe and redirect/discipline their kids, or do they let them fend for themselves and go wild?

I, personally, had to try a few different playgroups until I found a good match. One playgroup focused solely on their kids, and the moms talked with each other "through" their kids (in the sing-song voice, "Tell Ms. Leslie I like her hat!"), and this was very annoying!

On the other extreme, I had a playgroup with one little girl who's mom called her "Princess" and treated her as such. As you can imagine, whatever the girl wanted, she got (she was 2 years old), and all she had to do was cry---scream---scream louder-- and she got it. Even if it meant the girl TOOK a toy away from my son, I told her "We don't take toys from others; there are other toys you can play with" and this girl would scream and the MOM would take the toy away from my son to give it to her, saying that "there are other toys for your son to play with, too!". She was teaching her child it is OK to take toys when other's are playing with them...it made me so mad! I had a very uncomfortable talk with her, that if I invite them over to my house, to play with my son's toys for playgroup, our rules are that we do not take toys when other's are playing with them, and when the child is done with a toy, then the toy is up for grabs again. (And, as you know, their attention span for one toy is about 2-5 minutes, anyways). As you can imagine, this little girl didn't want a toy UNLESS another kid was playing with it, because it got mom's attention. She was not invited back to our house, and I saw my son trying to get away from her so much because of this girls' aggressive, mean-attitude, that we stopped attending that playgroup for a while.

Does any of this resonate with you and your situation? I'd love to hear back from you!

January 7, 2010 - 12:58pm
(reply to Alison Beaver)

thank you so much for your suggestions.ı am taking my daughter to gymboree in my city aswell.there also we had the same problem.my daughter likes to see the other children and so ready to share but when the other one does not act the way she does that really upsets and makes her to cry.I am scared that my daughter will not wan to be with children because of these disappointments.

January 8, 2010 - 8:04am
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