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When It Isn't Your Child - Long

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  • When It Isn't Your Child - Long

    I have a lot of play dates. Lately there has been an issue with one of the children who is hurting the others, including my own child.
    Many parents have said they would not come if the child was there as he chokes and smothers the other children.
    With my child, he put his knee into his throat and laughed and although I pulled him off, it left bruises.

    I have tried to bring it to the parents attention and so have others, in a gentle way and with some help from a therapist as my son had gotten very terrified to the point where he had nightmares and became hysterical if he heard the other child's name or saw their car.
    They did not respond well to any of us bringing it up.

    Normally this wouldn't be an issue as it was easy for me to handle the situation in my home. I stated that unless the child was supervised constantly, they would not be able to bring him, but they also attend other local AP type meetings and there are several of us who have opted to stop going out of concern for our own child's safety.

    This really isn't working for many of us as we also need support and our children love interaction with other children in the groups.

    If parents are unapproachable, then is it acceptable for the parents to say to the child, please don't play with my child, or my child is unable to play with you right now.

    I don't want to find ourselves in a situation where each time our children get into a great moment of play, we have to move them away from the child who is hurting them.

    In other words, help!!! What is the right thing to do?
    Last edited by EcoMaMa; 04-22-2008, 02:39 PM.

  • #2
    Wow. What did the other parents say? I ask because I find that in formulating a response, it's always helpful to try to figure out the other person's point of view.

    If it were me, I would probably:

    * Encourage my child to talk with the other child about how his behavior makes him or her feel, and directly ask him not to play so rough.

    * Practice strategies with my child for avoiding these situations with the other child.

    * Stay close to my own child when the other child is present, and be prepared to intervene. If another like-minded parent was present, I would "double team" the situation, with one parent comforting my child, and the other parent talking with the child who was too rough. In talking with the other child, I would be clear about hurting other people not being OK, try to get to the root of what caused the situation, and try to help him find a more appropriate way to express himself. In other words, the same thing I'd do with my own kid. Of course, whether or not this level of intervention with the other child is feasible may depend on your relationship with the parents.

    I'm having trouble imagining a situation in which it would make sense for me to be the one telling the other child that they couldn't play with my kid. I'm not saying that I think it would be wrong to do it, I just can't figure out the scenario.


    • #3
      I didn't think it sounded right to say no you can't play with someone, but these were some ideas some of the parents had and I wanted to run them across people not associated with the situation. Upset parents do not always come to the right choices.

      I do like the working as a team with other parents to intervene when things are not as they should be.

      By other parents, you mean the parents of the children who were hurt, they had said they would refuse to play with my child if we continued to have the family present. One family explained I was legally liable and they did not have insurance so any medical bills would be paid by me as it was my house. I had one father state if the child was like that, what were the parents like in private.
      I can understand their frustration as there children were hurt and they were feeling angry, but I was able to talk it out with them and explain I was attempting to solve the situation, but it would take time.

      I had suggested some one on one time with my child and theirs with the entire family present, fathers included so that they could watch and see what the triggers were and maybe we could work on it, but there was no interest. Maybe I can ask again in the future?

      Thank you for the suggestions. I will pass them along.


      • #4
        Oh, EcoMaMa...., what a hard situation to be in for all parties involved.

        I sense the need for safety, security, respect, care, kindness and acceptance. I also hear fear, sadness, frustration, exhaustion and concern. What a difficult situation. I am so sorry to hear of your son's fears and bad dreams arising from this situation, this sounds really rough.

        While I deeply value acceptance and inclusiveness at our gatherings, I equally value a safe environment for both the children and adults. If there is no trust and safety, no group really exists.

        I guess if I was in the situation I would follow much of what you have done. As an API Leader, I would connect with this child's parents before the meeting (or is this just play time?), during the meeting and after the meeting. Emphasizing the importance of meeting their child's needs, and by that I would say staying with your child during the entire meeting is what their child needs right now. I am sure these parents in particular have a strong need for connection and support as I bet other places have not been as welcoming as your group has. It might be hard for them to miss out on the meetings so having play-dates where there is no adult talk, just focusing on the kids might be helpful. Lots of parent/child/child play! So this family can parent right along-side everyone else.

        I would also invite the parents out for coffee or whatever, without our children to discuss the situation, I am sure they feel overwhelmed themselves and not sure what to do. The last thing this family needs right now is isolation.

        In the past we have had a few friends that were more than a little rough (slapping across the face, scratching at eyes, pinching neck, etc) during meetings and I feel as a mother I owe it to my child to be sure that he is safe. I have said, "xxxxx, slapping Gabriel is not okay, we use our hands for loving. I am going to have Gabriel take a rest over here with me for a few minutes." Then I tend to the needs of my child. And I add A LOT more supervision because I want my child to know he is safe and I am being his mama by making sure he is secure.

        It sounds like you are headed in the right direction, and I think its fair of you to say it will take a bit of time as I am sure there is no easy fix.


        • #5
          Originally posted by EcoMaMa View Post
          By other parents, you mean the parents of the children who were hurt
          Actually, what I meant was the parents of the child who exhibits this behavior. You said their response was delusional -- I was wondering what it was. Are they concerned about the behavior? Are they working on it?

          It's hard to be the parent of a child who hurts other kids, I can only imagine how hard it must be to have a child who goes beyond the usual toddler hair-pulling, biting, hitting, and pushing.

          Originally posted by EcoMaMa View Post
          I had one father state if the child was like that, what were the parents like in private.
          It's always so hard not to be judgmental about other people's parenting based on their child's behavior. I know one very nice family whose son went through a veeery looong hair-pulling and biting phase, from the time he was about 1 1/2 to the time he was about 2 1/2. They eventually resorted to just going home every time he hurt another child; luckily, this was all happening within a fairly tightly-knit group, and we all understood that they were very loving, nurturing, thoughtful parents who were doing everything they could.

          Originally posted by EcoMaMa View Post
          I had suggested some one on one time with my child and theirs with the entire family present, fathers included so that they could watch and see what the triggers were and maybe we could work on it, but there was no interest. Maybe I can ask again in the future?
          That sounds like a great suggestion, it's too bad the other family didn't take you up on it. Do you think they're just not taking the issue seriously? Or is it possible they're so much at a loss that they're just not able to talk about it?

          It sounds like you're really working to keep your community together!


          • #6
            Sorry for the delay in getting back.

            The parents are concerned, as well as the grandparents and I am unsure if they are working on it or how they are if they are doing so.

            I know how hard it is. One of my foster children would go beyond the expected child behavior and had gotten thrown out of three Kindergarten classes before I could get the state to help me with some sort of therapy and treatment for her. She would do things like attack with scissors, cut off other childrens hair and clothing, push them down stairs and laugh. It was frightening. I had become so isolated because of her behavior, but in a way I was glad. It forced me to really focus on her needs.

            I can't say what they are thinking or what their needs are. They don't seem to want to discuss it and I can understand that.

            For now I think it might be best to say and do nothing. It might just be considered hounding or a personal attack. I will leave it up to them to make the next move. That way it is on their terms and comfort level.

            Marianne, I like what you said about keeping the focus on the injured child.

            Thank you ladies!