Taming my inner mama bear- why jumping in might not always be the best solution

So it happened, earlier than expected but, it happened. At play group last week my 15 month old daughter was intentionally pushed to the ground when she tried to play with an older child who wasn’t in the mood to share that day.

My heart just about broke into a million pieces. I watched in disbelief as this unknown to me child put her hands on my baby and forcefully pushed her to the ground. I stood there dumbfounded and processed what had just happened. I mean, I somehow thought that I’d have at least a few more years before I’d have to deal with this sort of thing – she’s still a baby for crying out loud.

My reaction was probably pretty typical. I ran over, picked up my kid and comforted her because that was what my momma instincts told me to do. (To be fair, although shocked by what had happened Margs wasn’t hurt, crying or otherwise upset) I watched the other child simply continue playing with really no awareness of what had just happened.

 

baby

I spent the rest of the day pretty upset. I was sad that Margs had been excluded. I was angry that she was put in a situation where she was vulnerable and defenseless. I was infuriated that another child took my daughters agency away and may have potentially showed my daughter that physical displays of aggression are okay when things don’t go your way.

Then I realized my kid wasn’t even upset by it and I realized that all I want for this little girl is for her to be comfortable in her own skin, set boundaries and not let this sort of stuff upset her the way it upsets me.

This was about me and not herIt’s 100% about my insecurities about dealing with these types of situations and my own feelings of inadequacy when it comes to parenting.

feet

Mer and I had a long long long discussion that night about how we’re going to deal with these types of situations. Sure, she’s small right now but soon enough (sooner than we’re probably comfortable with) our little girl will come home upset because of something similar – what then? Do we jump in and help her “deal” with the issue, do we leave her to her own devices to figure it our for herself? What is the right approach? What method will help her foster independence, boundaries and self love?

As we discussed it our attitude changed from helping her deal (mediating the issue) to taking a very very passive and supportive role. Although Margs will have to proverbially trip and fall a few hundred times before she figures it out – neither of us truly feels like it’s our place to get involved in issues between children (we’re looking ahead here to when she’s old enough to understand these types of situations for herself). It is not my job to find out why, it’s also not my job to scold someone else’s child for behaviors I perceive as inappropriate, it’s not my job to resolve these types of issues – it’s between the children.  My job is to make sure my kid is equipped with communication skills, empathy and the confidence to deal with these situations herself. Sure, they may not always go her way – but my job is to make sure she’s as equipped as possible to deal with whatever is handed to her and not to solve it for her.

But bullying said Mer. What are we gonna do if she gets bullied? Just stay out of it?

Of course not I responded! If her safety whether that be emotional or physical is threatened to a degree that she is unable to manage with her communication skills then clearly we’d get involved – my goal is to raise her to be a strong, confident little girl who will come to me to discuss what is going on. I’d like to think that I’m raising her to be aware of her needs, to acknowledge what makes her uncomfortable and to admit when she needs help.

In retrospect, I’m not sure if I handled the situation correctly. At only 15 months old my instinct was to run to her and comfort her. Yet, I question if she really needed to be comforted or if my instincts were somehow to make me feel better about the situation. Parenting is hard. Decisions even harder – we often have to react in the moment and are then left to question if we made the right decision.

QOD

How do you handle these types of situations?

 

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57 Comments

  1. March 30, 2017 / 7:20 am

    I have nieces, they learned from us to stand strong on their feet, family raised them together for a not always so friendly world. Of course, if it’s about serious bullying, on the extreme, well, you mix yourself into, otherwise, in lighter cases, be a good counsel. And train them well. Mentally, physically.

    • March 30, 2017 / 9:13 am

      learning to navigate these types of situations is so incredibly important! And you’re right, being good counsel is essentially my goal – bullying though, that’s another situation altogether. I just hope that as she ages she realizes that certain types of behaviors require mums help while others need to be worked out independently.

      • March 30, 2017 / 9:15 am

        You are afraid! That shows already she is in good hands, hands of CARE. So yes, it will work out well 😊

        • March 30, 2017 / 9:16 am

          <3

  2. March 30, 2017 / 8:19 am

    I agree with this so much! Our little guy is only six months, so it hasn’t come up yet, but I used to teach 3-6 year olds and the parents’ / teachers’ reaction to this type of thing had SUCH an impact on the child’s perception. We used to talk to parents about being careful not to “interview for pain” – where you spend a ton of time questioning / talking to your child about every detail of an incident they mention and make a huge deal out of it. Doing this just shows them that being the victim gets your attention and encourages them to focus on these incidents (and invent them). It also makes it hard to know when something is really serious, like bullying. I love your approach of being there for support, but not over dramatizing what has happened – I hope to do the same thing when it comes up!

    • March 30, 2017 / 9:12 am

      My MA thesis was on perceptions of bullying actually. It’s really a very complicated topic. On the one hand like you said you do not want children to adopt a victim attitude towards issues that result from communication breakdowns but at the same time it’s so so important that all children are encouraged to be open about their feelings, emotions and experiences ya know?

    • March 30, 2017 / 9:18 am

      I totally agree. You don’t want to keep bringing up something that isn’t even an issue to the child. All through our lives people are going to say unsavory stuff to us, and it’s important to let it roll off. If a child can already do that at a young age, it’s actually better for them. That’s why I think it’s important just to keep communication lines open so if the child feels the need to talk about it or needs some advice, they can do just that. But at the same time if they choose to just walk away from the situation, that can be an option for them too. Eventually they realize some people aren’t worth their time or energy and there is no sense getting worked up over it. But at the same time, if someone who is considered a friend hurts them, or the hurt goes over the top (think severe emotional abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse of any kind), they should be able to express what’s going on and get the feedback they need to make a good decision or get help if they need it. Allowing kids to learn to make those executive decisions on their own (with a bit of “shadow guidance”) is helpful to them as they get older. The parent’s job is more to watch and guide than to make things happen. We learn through our experiences, and when we find ourselves in a job interview when we are 25 years old, mommy isn’t going to be there to make everything better.

  3. March 30, 2017 / 8:19 am

    As she gets older, I think the best way to handle things is to be open for her to talk to you, and talk about situations like this, but also allow her to handle things in her own way. I’m saying this because of how I was raised, and how I would have liked things to be handled. You don’t want to end up being that parent who is constantly raising a stink because things don’t go your child’s way, but you also don’t want them to harbor all of their hurt inside either. I don’t think you were wrong for what you did, because this was the first thing anything like this happened. Of course you were freaking out! What I totally respect is how you are actually thinking it over and analyzing what you did. So many parents don’t do that and just react. The important part is to watch over Margs and notice how she reacts. At 15 months, it might be a little early, but as she grows up, if things like this happen to her and you notice, don’t necessarily run in and do anything, but just talk to her and ask her how she’s feeling about it. Ask her if there is something you can do. I always hated it if my parents would just butt in and say something because it made me feel weak. I handled things in my own way, which was mostly quietly. I preferred to not give other kids fuel for the fire. Other kids take a more direct approach and will want to say or do something, and that is where the parental guidance can go a long way. You can’t control what the other kids do, but you can teach Margs to love and respect herself. That’s the most important. Cultivate the self-esteem and the rest will come to her naturally. I don’t think you did anything wrong though, she’s little, and you’re her mom. If you didn’t want to run to her, I would think something was a little off. You’re doing fine, and I’m sure she’s going to be a strong woman some day. If that incident didn’t even bring her to tears, it sounds like she’s already growing into a strong young girl! 🙂

    • March 30, 2017 / 9:10 am

      All of this is so so true.

      I remember a girl I went to grade school with. Her mum was always involved and on a few occasions confronted other children in the school yard because her daughter had had some sort of disagreement. I must have been 10 years old and I remember that so clearly. I doubt the little girl wanted her mum to react that way (which probably made the situation worse). As we got older, she was actually excluded from social activities because it became known that her Mum was very much involved in everything. It’s really quite sad. Her mum clearly meant no harm by it – but I’m not sure I agree that being so involved is the right decision.

  4. March 30, 2017 / 8:25 am

    I can relate with you on this one. It’s harder for us parents than it is for the kids. I think you did the right thing by going to your daughter’s aid even if she didn’t get hurt.

    • March 30, 2017 / 9:08 am

      Yup! In the moment I acted but when I got home and processed what had happened I realized that my kid wasn’t even impacted by it. She really had no reaction at all.

  5. March 30, 2017 / 8:50 am

    I think that at a young age, you (not you personally, but a collective you) need to be there and let you kid know that it is ok and that you are there for her. Otherwise she may end up feeling alone and alienated and looking to you for help which isn’t coming. It is also the perfect moment to pull her aside and teach her that pushing it not ok. Making sure she is fine then saying, how did it feel to get pushed down? You didn’t like it. That is why we don’t do that to others because it makes them feel bad. That way she learns that it is not ok to do that.

      • March 30, 2017 / 9:03 am

        Thank you Paula!

    • March 30, 2017 / 9:07 am

      Absolutely. There’s a fine line between allowing them to develop skills and having them feel abandoned by us ya know?

  6. March 30, 2017 / 8:58 am

    I want to help my daughter get stronger. Right now, if she’s pushed away or a toy is taken from her, she is unable to do anything about it. She is 2 and started speaking a few months ago and I’m like the only one who understands what she is saying. Even though Margs is only 15 months, I know the feeling of wanting her to grow up being able to handle these situations on her own. I’m stressing about how to equip my own daughter with those skills. I worry this is the start of the crucial period where she will learn but clueless how to do it myself.

    • March 30, 2017 / 9:06 am

      This is exactly how I feel about the situation. On the one hand my instinct pulls me to get involved and make things “all better” but my rational “adult” brain and not “mom” brain tells me that it’s not always the best idea. Clearly, if she’s very upset or hurt or anything like that I’ll swoop in but my goal is to foster strength in this little girl and the ability to deal with these situations (better than I ever did) ya know?

      • March 30, 2017 / 9:22 am

        I’m naturally a quiet and soft spoken woman, but I’m no pushover. If I think back on my life, I would credit much of it to being an older sister and having that instinct to protect my younger sister from the mean kids. I know both our daughters are our only babies, so I wonder if when they are a little older and have younger friends…if these skills will have a chance to come about then. For now, I think it’s ok to just show our daughters their mixed feelings about the situation is normal.

        • March 30, 2017 / 3:24 pm

          Absolutely – I think we’d be doing them a disservice if we weren’t honest about the mixed feelings.

  7. March 30, 2017 / 9:16 am

    It’s crazy to think that we are starting to deal with this kind of thing at such young ages already. Pushing was already around at young ages but thinking into the future with bullying, things that happened when I was in middle school are happening in elementary school now. Kids are aware of more things do to internet, tv, and family life than they were when I was growing up (and I’m only just about to turn 23). I’m continually thinking about how can I prepare my daughter (who is only 8 mo) to be aware of situations that occur without taking away her childhood. It is a very hard balance to find.

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:27 pm

      You bring up an interesting point. Bullying isn’t about slamming a kid into a locker anymore. Bullying has taken on a shape and form that follows kids home from school when before kiddos got reprieve when they were home with their families. Why? The internet, text messaging, phones – there’s the ability to bully a child remotely now which makes the whole situation incredibly terrifying.

  8. March 30, 2017 / 9:48 am

    I’m glad you wrote this. This is something I think about but passively. I’d rather not get too stressed about it now but it’s going to happen. It’s hard to say what I would do in the situation that you had. It depends on if my child was upset and/or if the aggressor had noticeable malice. It’s so hard letting my child be his own person. I mean, that’s what he is though. There’s going to be a day when he doesn’t need me as much and that makes me sad but I hope my husband and I can raise him to be strong and a critical thinker. He’s only 7 months right now but I know the time is coming up for us to start teaching him things like this. Am I ready? No. But I hope I’m prepared.

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:23 pm

      We’ll never truly be ready i think and I don’t really feel you can really prepare for this stuff – you sort of figure it out when/if it happens.

  9. March 30, 2017 / 9:49 am

    With my daughter, I was the other parent. 🙁 For my boys, as long as there is no blood…

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:22 pm

      Fair enough!

  10. March 30, 2017 / 10:27 am

    Talk about a tough situation. I can’t imagine what I would do in that position. Hopefully I have some time before it happens to Baby E.

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:21 pm

      You’ll figure it out! It’s trial and error I think!

  11. March 30, 2017 / 11:48 am

    Reblogged this on Lincoln Life Blog and commented:
    I don’t know what I would have done, I suppose I would have done what you did, but everyone reacts in a different way when a situation presents itself like that. Am sure your daughter will experience much more situations like that, and she will grow and learn from them, as will you. This is a great post as it brought back so many memories of when my kids were very young.

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing!

      It was a teachable moment for me for sure. I’m learning what feels right for our family as we go!

      • March 30, 2017 / 3:30 pm

        your welcome, i look forward to reading some great posts from you.

  12. Mrs. Mother Dirt
    March 30, 2017 / 11:48 am

    I have the same sadness when I feel my daughter is excluded. There have been only been a few times when she has been pushed or grabbed by another child. One time it did seem malicious and the other mother stepped in to stop her child right away! I tell my daughter to say “NO” very firmly to the child who is invading her space. This has worked well for her. Sometimes she puts her arm straight out and hand up in a “stop” gesture to other child. I think letting her know (at a young age) that it’s OK to say NO is a gift I can give her.

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      This is a great example of teaching her to have boundaries! Well done Momma!

      • Mrs. Mother Dirt
        April 6, 2017 / 1:19 pm

        Thanks!

  13. March 30, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    yes i am a father and my daughter is my life coz,the other half works while i watch over the lil one. In my personal opinion, id rush to my daughters rescue first, then i will have my say against the one who is most responsible, the parents of the other kid. Coz in a matter of circumstance, they need to be mouthed off from what needs to be done. Not just brushed aside and take note.

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      See, when I was in the classroom I’d see situations where the parent of the child who was hurt would speak with the offending childs parents and place a lot of blame when the parents were really not responsible ya know? In some cases I think it’s absolutely necessary to let the parents know what happened but not necessarily in a reprimanding way more in a factual “this is what happened” way so that they can decide what they perceive as the right course of action.. Some parents try their hardest and yet kids still act out aggressively or verbally.

  14. March 30, 2017 / 2:39 pm

    Pushing and being pushed is all part of normal childhood behaviour. It’s hard to watch and I think you reacted appropriately as your daughter is too young to react. I know how you feel about wanting to protect them and being mama bear is just how we all want to react to our babies. Children learn by doing when they have limited language so talking to kids if they are upset is important giving them words to express how they feel. Good luck with your little one. You sound like a lovely mummy. 😍

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:16 pm

      Communication is key isn’t it?

  15. March 30, 2017 / 3:11 pm

    My four year old got her first insult the other day. She got in the car and told me “mom, a boy in my class told me that my braids looked stupid.” but before the raging mama bear inside me could respond she finished “…but I told him ‘YOU’RE WRONG! They are BEAUTIFUL!!!” Then she chiperly went onto a new subject. I would be lying if I said that It didnt bug me the rest of the day, because it did. But she was so over it. and After one of those long, long , long talks with hubby we pretty much concluded the same thing: She pretty much demonstrated what we are working on teaching her… so we decided to be thankful. <3

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:15 pm

      This makes me so so happy. Your daughters reaction is EXACTLY what we’re trying to instill in Margs.

      <3 <3 <3

  16. March 30, 2017 / 3:21 pm

    Wow these are always tough scenarios. Especially when so young. I tend to agree with the plan you came up with after talking it over. For the most part kids need to deal with things on their own with some guidance.

    For my daughter who is 2 1/2 I will generally err on the side of letting them keep playing in a situation like that. As long as she’s not in real physical danger. She happens to be very small for her peer group and she is going to need to learn some defense mechanisms because there will not always be Mom and Dad close by. We talked with the daycare about it and they teach empathetic responses to the kids. We do that with her as well. It is no fun having a bigger kid take away your toy, but better to learn to deal with it at 2 than at 16 or 22 when the consequences could be much more severe. As she has gotten older I will get down to her level and talk about what to do acknowledging that she is angry and it’s ok, but screaming about it and throwing a fit or even hitting back is not. She can learn to speak up when appropriate or to go do something else. Thankfully she is showing to be a very independent little girl and most of the larger boys in her class leave her be.

    As a parent it is really hard to not get involved. I’d love to hear updates on this as your child ages. Thank you for sharing!

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:31 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me! I love how you are approaching this. It’s such a wonderful wonderful gift you are giving your little girl! <3

  17. March 30, 2017 / 3:37 pm

    such good points.
    i never reacted when my baby growing up fell down and into toddler
    now hes four and ppl often exclaim at how strong he is. not that showing emotions is bad, but now i kno when hes really hurt, blleding or bruised, cuz the other times he jst picks himself up . awesom post

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:41 pm

      Thank you <3

  18. March 31, 2017 / 12:11 am

    This a very common nowadays bullying is seen as a trait of leadership by some people. I dunno what kinda leadership is this. Your discussion is the kind of discussion that every child needs from his/her parents nowadays. Such mature points. I loved this post. 😍

    • March 31, 2017 / 7:10 am

      Bullying is such a complex issue in schools today isn’t it?

  19. March 31, 2017 / 6:52 pm

    Don’t be too hard on yourself; it’s natural to want to defend your little one. That said, your next child might be the one who pushes kids down, and that’s hard to see, too. Motherhood ain’t easy! 🙂

    • March 31, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      Nope, it isn’t easy at all! Thanks for stopping in Claire!

  20. March 31, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    I am afraid life is tough, wait until your child is not invited to that birthday party, or is bullied, we stand by them but we must allow them to cope or else they will never be able to cope with life and hide in the shadows. You will be there and you can talk it all out.

    • April 1, 2017 / 6:51 am

      I’m not looking forward to it! :/

  21. April 1, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    My children are grow up, my daughter’s sonis three and half 🙂 I have always believed that adults should not interfere too much with. Most childrenlive in the present but we adults keep thinking about the past. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. April 8, 2017 / 3:24 am

    I react a lot based on how my daughter reacts, when she was younger she was often oblivious and just carried on so i clenched my fists, bit my lip and tried to hold back. If she is upset I am in there like lightening. I have told her before than some children aren’t being very kind (I may have made some rather loud comments about it being because their parents probably arent kind when it was the large boy who really shoved her hard in soft play whilst his mum ignored his reign of terror and drank her coffee). its hard, I am very much learning. But also now my daughter has become the shover once or twice I find that even harder to manage. Malice and intent and certainly factors that impact my response

    • April 8, 2017 / 10:25 am

      I have yet to experience Margs being the “shover” but I’m sure it’s coming. I think in those situations I’ll jump right in and hopefully have her understand how inappropriate it is. It’s all so hard.

      • April 8, 2017 / 10:32 am

        I think it helped me cope with Matilda being shoved as I realised if my own little angle ( 😉 ) can be the shover, then I’m sure her assailant isn’t all bad

        • April 8, 2017 / 10:35 am

          Great way to look at it and so very true.