Other People's Kids

If kids model what they see and hear then isn't sending them to school akin to submitting them to a virtual brainwashing academy by admission?

I mean monkey-see monkey-do does not just refer to the wonderfully funny and developmentally appropriate activities of our children. 

It means bad manners, slang you’re too old to understand and the mutha load of all swear words.

Maybe I’m overreacting. My daughter hasn't even started pre-school (save me now). 

But she has recently begun imitating some of the not so nice behavior of her peers. It was bound to happen. 

Nothing too extreme, just a lot of “NO!" with a certain glare and particular pitch that perfectly matches that of her toddler cohort. 

And some minor whacking [me in the leg or arm when she doesn't get what she wants].

So this begs the question: How to deal with unwanted behaviors that your kid brings home from the playground?

I wasn't sure where to go with this one. When the copy cat syndrome first appeared on the scene I would ask her, "Who does that?" in an effort to delineate between her usual behavior and that of her friend’s without being judgmental.

Knowing exactly who I meant she'd answer me with the same unyielding glare. "And what's your name?" I'd point out as if I were making some great discovery. 

Then she'd growl her name at me as if to say "Nice try Ma!"

This wasn't getting me anywhere.

And really, I don't want to make comparisons between her and her friend anyway. 

She isn't old enough to comprehend the implications of what that means, nor is it guiding her any faster towards the lesson I want her to learn.

But I need to do something. Or do I?

Sometimes ignoring the behavior is best. But it’s been less than effective in this situation. 

I feel compelled to address the fact that it isn't okay for her to do those things and that if she's mad or upset or wants something: hitting and yelling "No!" are not the way into Mama's heart.

It's probably just a phase.

That's going to be my answer from now on. "It's probably a phase." 

Seems every time I find a "supposed" answer to my parenting dilemma, my kid has gone off and behaved herself before I had the chance to outwit her with my ingenious parenting.

So what's the point in driving myself batty over this one?

Still too young for impulse control and modeling [behavior] is all she knows, I’m probably better off waiting this one out.

I have to admit, my heart was warmed a bit at seeing such strong exhorts from her. 

My little girl is all grown up - standing up for her own person, demanding that she be taken seriously. 

She used to break out in tears if someone even slightly gestured towards her too fast. So I do not want to quash her new found feisty-ness while it's still emerging.

I decided to make a list. What I do want and what I don't want. I started with the don'ts because it's sometimes easier to figure out what I don't want in order to determine what I do want.


I don’t want to fall into a power struggle with her.

I don't want to place a value judgment on her or other children's behavior.

I don't want her to repeat the offending behavior because it is aggressive and potentially hurtful to me or others.

I don't want to keep repeating NO, because it only reinforces the behavior (and will potentially break her spirit or my last nerve, whichever comes first.)


I do want her to consider her actions beforehand.

I do want her to understand the effect that her actions may have on others and their feelings.

I do want her to stop with the growly “No!” and repeated 
whacks to my head and body.

Armed with my list and determined to remain focused on the big picture without falling into frustration, I forged on. 

Then one morning, out of a serious need to not have "one of those days," when she beamed that fiery glare in my direction, I grabbed her and kissed her all over like an anxious puppy.

I verbally acknowledged her feelings and desires as I targeted the ticklish spot between her neck and ear and nibbled away. 

She melted into giggles (she can't resist laughing if someone else is) and then I looked for my opportunity to reconnect.

It has worked like a dream [for now]. 

She has consistently displayed the behavior less and less and more importantly, when she does use this particular action to express her frustration, it takes a matter of moments to get her through it. It's not an ensuing battle of wills anymore. 

That, after all was my big picture goal for now. Sometimes she needs more kissing and it takes longer or she resists me angrily. But I persist.

Anytime she wags her finger at me in defiance or shouts that "No!" I've come to loathe so much, I just kiss her. 

It's become like a game and it takes her mind off the frustration she is feeling at not having her own way.

My mom used to tell me, "you get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar."

Sounds like that could work in parenting too. 

Thanks for reading!

Talk soon,

What do you want for your child? Post your comments below!

About Lori

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