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Honestly? I'd be trying to get them not to gang up on her. Yes, they're just posturing. And there is almost certainly no malice at all involved. But I think that now is a good age to start to get them to understand that the things they say and do can hurt people's feelings. And that they should try to be good 'hosts' or sharers.

I think it's important that they have some control though. So perhaps there should be certain 'special' toys that are off limits to visitors (and each other), and that they have explicit permission to keep to themselves. But other than that, I'd be gently starting to introduce the concept of keeping in mind the feelings of the other child. Does that make sense? I've been up for 22 hours now and my eyes are about to fall out of my head.

I do think that the "They're being ugly for not sharing" comment is a bit much. Maybe it's a cultural thing (am in Australia) but that seems a little harsh.

Hope not to have offended you, Tertia. You know, now that you have your 'offended juices' flowing.;) (Wow. That sounds much creepier when you type it than it did in my head. ;) ).

I love hearing about your family. You so clearly love your brothers and sisters (and parents). I'm envious. I don't really have contact with my siblings.

I would say something too. Maybe prepare them for her visit by letting them put a special toy away that they don't want to share. i absolutely would not just watch closed mouthed. Although it's perfectly normal behavior, at almost 3 they should be made aware how their behavior can effect others.It would bother me too if my sister didn't at least make an attempt to curb her children's inappropriate behavior.

I think that 2 and 3 year olds are definitely old enough to hear messages about sharing and being kind. I gently reprimand my children for pushing, whining, fighting, etc. I would not permit them to bully another child, or to be rude, especially to a guest.

It's also interesting that you say a younger cousin is automatically lower in "the pecking order." Could this be because of your childhood experience, where you thought it was okay to exclude your younger sister? It sounds like you all survived quite nicely, but I am surprised that you want to perpetuate the dynamic.

Even if A&K's cousin is a "tough cookie," how must her interactions with A&K make her feel? Unwelcome, to be sure. She is a family member and child who deserves to be treated with kindness just like any child.

It's not polite to bark at company and tell them "This is my shit and don't you forget it." Would you tell Nina, "This is my couch. You sit on the floor"? Of course not. When someone comes to visit, you welcome them to share your home for a while. And part of raising kids is civilizing them so that they understand this, too. I would expect Lily-Rose to be allowed to play with any of the kids' toys that aren't put away, and to have some say in what show is on TV if the kids are watching together—and the twins are getting to the age where they can understand this. Sharing isn't just something you do with your twin, after all.

I'd have to agree with everyone above. At three, they are more than old enough to understand about feelings. How would they feel if they went to Lily-Rose's house and she did the same to them? How would that make you feel as their mother. I have to admit, I would probably make some sort of comment along the lines of Nina's. Also, to think that a 3 year old is not capable of being hurtful is a little naive I think. Not hurtful in an adult, cut you to the bone, way, but a 3 year old way.

I would say, "A&K, that is Momma and Daddy's TV, and we share it with you. We also choose to share it with Lily-Rose. If you can't accept that, then we will take the TV away."

Also, I can tell you from experience that I remember a lot of the crummy things that my sisters inflicted on me (they are younger so its different than you and Mel) and it has badly affected our current relationship. Which is a nonrelationship. They don't like me because I'm "perfect", and I can't believe the choices they make. They don't talk, write, email, and I don't get pictures of their kids. I at least send them a holiday card and pictures of my daugther. This year, I didn't send them gifts because the only acknowledgement I get from them is a Thank You via the grapevine of my mother. Of course I think most of the distance that we have in our relationship is because of our physical distance. We have never lived less than 2 days travel from my family in that part of the country. Gah, I didn't mean to make this about me. I simply wanted to say Nina remembers feeling left out as a child and no parent wants their child to experience the bad/sad feelings that they did.

I'm with the posts so far. I think your two are behaving in a developmentally appropriate way - but I also think it's best to set the tone now that guests, family, and friends are treated nicely and that we share with them.

My son's a bit younger and I expect it gets harder but I've found that some preparation goes a long way - we talk about how the playgroup or family is coming over and that we will share, we get out the toys to share, put away the special ones, etc. And then I find it helps to give him some helpful things to do at the start - it eases the transition and gives him that pride of being a host. So I have him carry out a bowl of pretzels, or something similar.

Our TV isn't owned, by the way, it's shared by whoever is in the room. :)

Maybe it's just me, but I have *always* been all over my girls when it comes to manners, etc. True enough, a 1-yr-old may not ACT graciously in all circumstance, but that doesn't mean they can't be told that what they are doing isn't appropriate.

In the circumstance you describe, I would certainly be intervening, advising A&K that they are not being considerate hosts, and do my best to offer a solution that includes L-R. Even if it doesn't change A&K's behavior, at least Nina is reassured that you are AWARE of the situation, and are not excusing A&K's remarks/actions. By the sound of it, Nina's response reflects her own hurt, and is very pointed indeed.

Just as I would not personally allow my child(ren) to be disrepectful of guests - regardless of my child's age - I would also not be likely to make a statement such as Nina's. In situations like that, I am more apt to soothe my child's hurt feelings without being critical of others. How do you feel about her saying A&K are being 'mean/nasty' IN FRONT of your children? I would be all over somebody if they put such a label on my kids... but then again, I also wouldn't let my child(ren) get away with mistreating a guest (regardless of that guest being kin or not).

Hope I've not royally pissed you off, T! It just sounds like there are more issues than what's on the surface, and perhaps you and Nina need to have a good talk.

Wow.... I do think you need to correct A and K. That is not okay. You don't remind guests that the glasses in the kitchen are yours when you hand them a drink do you? Kids don't just magically learn manners, you have to model the appropriate behavior and correct statements like they are making. You can be cheerful about it. Just say "Adam, Kate, that isn't nice to say to our cousin. Lily-Rose is our guest and we share with guests. If you can't move away from the TV and let her share, I'll turn it off."

You can let them select 3 toys or so before guests come over to put away, and then everything else is shared. You must remind them "No, Adam, Kate, all of these toys out here in the living room we said we would share with our guests. If you can't let Lily-Rose play too, you'll need to go into time out."

I am 5 years younger than my sister and two of our girl cousins. They were always told to let me play with them. The cousins idea of play was to tickle me until I wet my pants and then tell my mother that I had wet my drawers. My sister who was very tiny stood no chance of helping me with these two monsters. I ended up playing with my brother and the 3 boy cousins who were all the same age (3 years older). Yes my mother and her siblings all had babies at the same time...except for when she had me. Boo Hoo Hoo! The end result was that I have a wonderful friendship with the one remaining boy cousin (we have sadly lost 2 of them) and my brother. We still think the girl cousins are bit*ches and my sister is my favourite wine drinking buddy!
My point, ya I missed that too, is just keep an eye on them while they are playing.

Dear hearts, please don't worry about offending me. It is never easy to hear that you are wrong (or have being doing wrong), but hearing it is not offensive, it is just a bit ouch.

My sister is on her way here now, I am going to put your advice into practice.

*Squares shoulders, adopts a tougher stance*

I'm with the others. Even if it falls on deaf ears - at the moment - if you say it enough times it will sink in at some point. I know you've talked about whether or not to let Adam and Kate sort things out or to intervene. That's a lot different. This is a stranger, a little girl who has no military advantage on foreign ground ;) She's got no hope against Adam and Kate, and they should be shown the kind way to behave. Sometimes that might involve them being put in time out. Absolutely let them put away their most special toys, but tell them the ones that are out are for general consumption. And if they start bossing her around make a fuss of their cousin, give her some special attention and tell Kate and Adam that you don't treat guests - and family - that way. Keep it simple, keep repeating. It will make your sister feel better too.

Yeah - I'm with everyone else here. I wouldn't be as comfortable accepting posturing from my child at his age - and he's a little younger than A&K. By not saying anything, you're sending the message that this is OK, and age-wise, they're ready to move on to the next stage - which is a little empathy. Learning to share and be gracious really sucks - but you know? They're in the zone right about now.

Good luck! Some days it goes better than others.

Agree with everyone else. They won't ever internalize the idea of kindness if they don't start hearing what is and isn't nice. It's never too early to start teaching how to be a gracious host. You don't have to be cross with them, or say they're wrong, just offer how to be welcoming. It's easiest if they see you modeling that behavior, too. (My daughter gives the impression of being a tough cookie, too, and rarely gets her feelings hurt. That said, she definitely notices and ponders it when she's treated like that. She just doesn't show it right away.)

If you start redirecting A&K, your sister won't feel like she has to say those pointed things to spare her child's feelings as much, too, which is a win-win for your relationship.

Glad to know I (we) haven't offended you, T! XXX

Good luck trying the new tactic. I am willing to bet that Nina will GREATLY appreciate your empathy for L-R! Let us know how things turn out.

Children are never too young to be taught to be kind and compassionate. Certainly almost 3 is old enough to get called out on when being a bratty brat.

Amazing to see such agreement about this post...but I am going to keep the 100% rate going strong. Here's the deal: it doesn't matter that it doesn't bother Lily-Rose. It DOES bother your sister, who has been put in the awkward position of not disciplining your kids (who need it) but letting you know that she is not OK with it. Children should not be forced to play together, since it never works, but they cannot be mean to another child either without you letting them know that their behavior is not acceptable. Would you let them attend a preschool where the teacher stood by passively while 2 kids were doing this to Adam, whether or not it made him cry, and then shrugged it all off as, "It's what kids this age do?" I hope not. Manners and kindness need to exist regardless of whether or not someone is bothered by the lack of it. This will become a very big issue between you and your sister if you don't stop this annoying, rude, and very very unnecessary behavior. They can control themselves, or accept consequences (isolation) for their actions if the choose not to. Please don't let them become a gang of two.

I agree that they are old enough to be told that sharing is a rule that everyone has to live by- even if you can't expect them to voluntarily do it every single time. I think that all the important rules need to be in place from the beginning so that it is second nature for the kids. My 2 1/2 year old definitely knows that she is supposed to share, although actually sharing her toys is a bit hit and miss. I figure that it will come one of these days.

I agree that 3 yr is definately old enough to know how to be nice to guests. I have always told my kids that when they have friend/cousin over that they are OUR guest, and that we have to be nice to them. Plus, I even let the guest have more say than my kids (now that my kids are older) so they know that it is extra important to be polite to guests or they won't want to come over anymore. At 3, they are fully capable of knowing proper manners (to a point) and can be reminded that is isn't nice to say things like that to their little cousin. And, yes they are going to act that way and it is what 3 yr olds do, but you should definately say something to them. Their teacher at school would, so they need to know that adults won't let them get away with it. All kids fight and are bullies at times, but parents should let them know it is wrong. I would also give a couple warnings then use a time out if they continue to be that way towards guests. Good luck!

Ok, haven't read all the comments, but here is my two cents, since you asked. If it were me (and, honestly, it has been) I would definitely tell my kids that not sharing and standing in front of the tv is rude and unkind and that is not how they should treat anyone. What I did with my kids was prepare them before the friends came over and let them put away ONE special toy each that they didn't want to share. I told them they must share everything else. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

Nina just came to visit and we had a nice chat about it. All sorted. Will make sure the kids be more polite in future.

Am going to close comments now because I've got the message. Loud and clear.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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