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June 3, 2009 10:24 AM Subscribe
What to tell a young toddler about mean girls? (Well, mean toddlers
posted by dreamphone to Human Relations (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Context: Now that my young toddler has friends that are 2, 3, and 4 years in age, she’s beginning to experience the normal friction that most kids create and all are exposed to. So far it’s mostly minor physical stuff like being pushed while scuffling over a toy, for which I’ve suggested that she say “Don’t push me” when she comes to me for comfort. When she’s brought it up later, I’ve explained that some of her friends have a hard time controlling their hands and bodies while playing (kind of lame?) and validate her reaction in simple terms (“when he pushed you, your feelings were hurt”). I do this only when she comes crying to me or asks about it later; I try to not intervene when I’m not needed and overall attempt a sympathetic but not overly dramatic tone—a brief hug, wipe off her tears, and we move on.
(Not to give the impression that her playgroups are Lord-of-the-Fly-esque; the other childrens’ parent will typically intervene and order an apology for the wrong, etc. – this is fine but I’m not concerned about the other kids’ behavior, which I consider entirely normal.)
My question is: What do you say to a young toddler once her playmates begin to be overtly (although benignly) mean? An example is when another kid tells her that her pants are ugly or that she’s stupid. I know this probably sounds incredibly minor but I would really like to find a way to talk with her about life’s little meannesses.
My initial thoughts are that I’d like to help my daughter understand that:
- such interactions are usually not about her (without villanizing the “mean” child)
- she can respond by thinking about ways to respond to the meanness (i.e., “don’t push me”) rather than crying/coming to me
- despite my over-thinking this (see above...) it’s not really a big deal – we’re all crabby and mean sometimes
Any thoughts on my approach or suggestions for ways to communicate a positive and effective message are appreciated! Thanks.