September 29, 2009

Different Families, Different Rules

Teaching toddlers all the household rules can be challenging. Sure I want them to behave at the table, clean up their toys, etc., but that doesn't always happen. I have a few rules, though, which are non-negotiable: We don't bite, we don't hit, we don't push. It can be difficult for my daughters to understand why other children are allowed to do these things.
For the most part if another child pushes one of my girls, she'll simply move to a different area or activity. I think some of this comes from having siblings. If your sister is bothering you, the quickest way to resolve the issue is to take yourself out of the situation. But when you're in a confined space, say a preschool classroom, moving away isn't always easy.
From time to time I'm told this on the way home from preschool "So and so pushed me" or "The boy took my toys." When I ask "what did you do?" the answer is usually "nothing... but he was naughty." I have explained to my daughters that not every mommy and daddy have the same rules at home and even if they do not every little boy or little girl remembers the rules all the time. I'm not suggesting there are parents out there who think it's OK for their kids to bite, hit or push, but I know there are parents out there who don't discipline their children for doing these things.
On an outing to the local children's museum, a boy who was clearly older than my daughters pushed one of the girls out his way so he could use the activity with which she was playing. I didn't say anything. I just steered her toward another activity. A woman with the mom of the boy in question must not have seen what happened because a few minutes later she said to the mom "Did you see those four little girls? Wow. Look at how well-behaved they are." Do you know what the mom said? "Yeah, well, I bet she wouldn't have the same luck if she had four boys." It still makes my blood boil. I don't buy into the notion that boys are harder to raise than girls. Come to my house when my daughters are trying to do a live version of WWE. But that's a post for a different day.
My daughters are becoming better at understanding that regardless of what other kids do, they are still expected to follow certain rules. They're also becoming better at standing up for themselves. While they haven't hit back or pushed back (yet), they will say "Don't push me." I don't expect my daughters to be perfect angels... but I do expect them to do their best to follow my rules and treat their peers the way they would want their peers to treat them. Heavy stuff for a four-year-old.


Stephanie B said...

I don't blame you for your boiling blood. Little boys can behave responsibly. My son's six years old, doesn't talk, clearly has some issues. But, if he misbehaves, he's punished and biting/pushing/roughhousing is never tolerated. Which is why he's generally very very good around other children.

Raising boys and girls is different, but so is every child and neither is harder than the other - just different.

What a copout (that other parent). You go girl, keep fighting the good fight. You're children will become better for it since they'll understand the difference between doing the right thing and not wanting to get caught.

Quadmama said...

I've noticed that the few parents I've encountered who use the "boys will be boys" excuse simply don't want to discipline their kids (or maybe don't know how).

MaryAnne said...

I don't think "boys will be boys" is ever an excuse. And I have seen families of well-behaved boys (and poorly-behaved girls).

Quadmama said...

You're right MaryAnne. I think I strayed a bit off topic during my response comment. The point of the post was whether it's a boy or girl I some times have trouble explaining why other kids don't get in trouble when they break a rule that I enforce.

Denise said...

Having had two boys and one girl, I always tried to treat all of them the same. Politeness does not know the difference between the sexes. I am with you, Quadmama, my blood boils when I hear people say that "boys will be boys". My boys were just as polite, if not more, than my daughter!!! I really dislike sexist upbringing!!! Children are children!! Will this mom also defend her son when he physically abuses his wife by saying that "boys will be boys"????

Quadmama said...

Good point, Denise. I should also point out that I hear parents say things such as "oh, she's just a little girl so we need to not be so harsh with her." Well, discipline "her" for the same things you would discipline a boy.

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