For no particular reason, yesterday was a crap day. Whiny tired kids, whiny tired me, the husband at work all weekend – you know the kind of thing. So pretty much as soon as I could decently put them to bed, I did, and then followed them with a beer and the laptop for a cheering-up dose of Outnumbered, the BBC comedy about a 2-parent, 3-kid family, which never fails to make me feel a bit better about life.
Here’s a clip from the episode I watched last night…
It’s not one of the funniest bits by any means, but I wanted to share it because it reminds me of one of the ongoing dilemmas we face as parents – what do you tell your children about hitting other kids? It used to be really clear in my mind – DON’T. And while they are small, that’s fairly easy to maintain. Don’t push other kids around, and if someone does it to you, don’t hit back, just tell a grownup.
It’s not so clear cut for me now. I’m still parroting the ‘don’t hit anyone, ever’, line but particularly with the eldest, should I be encouraging him to stand up for himself more? He’s nearly eight and though I don’t want him to be aggressive to other kids, I do want him to be able to look after himself – and of course as they get older, grassing people up becomes less a route to solving a problem and more to becoming seen as a weakling. It’s not a problem at school, thankfully – where there have been issues between some of the boys the staff seem to be very good at nipping them in the bud. But holiday playscheme is another matter – he is often picked on by one of the older boys there, and there has also been some shoving around. The staff are pretty good but it is never going to be the same controlled environment that it is in school.
Summer holidays are nearly 3 months away but he’s getting anxious about 4 weeks at playscheme already, and I’m getting anxious for him, and about what I should be telling him to do if the picking on gets more physical? He knows not to hit first, but should I be relaxing the line about not hitting back? And what if he does, and it escalates and someone gets really hurt? What are the rest of you telling your kids? I would love to hear about it!