shocked toddler

Behaviour – what level of strictness is too strict?

It’s so hard to know how strict to be with your child’s behaviour.  Obviously the way you’ve been brought up makes a difference, and you have to contend with both parents’ point of view.  But at least you can control your own children, even if you have to sit and watch others’  run riot.

This weekend I took N to my best friend’s son’s christening where I was being godmother.  It was at the my friend’s parents’ house, and they had various family and the godparents staying at their B&B for the Saturday, so it was nice to spend some time there, get to know people, and catch up.

N was in his element.  After getting over his initial shyness, he loved impressing people, eating as much food as possible (and not making too much of a mess), and playing outside.  He was quite happy pottering on his own and playing with his scooter and bike I’d taken with us, knowing they were on a farm and had good playing space in the back garden/tennis court area providing the perfect surface for him to practice on.

There were a couple of other young children staying for the weekend, one was four, the other a girl a bit older than N.  N’s used to having older cousins around, so was obviously going to start tagging along with the older boy.  But my friend had warned me that the older child was a tad unpredictable behaviour wise.

My view is that N should be behaving himself at home and listening to what we say (although admittedly, I’m happy to let him get away with a few things if they’re not damaging or dangerous), but I would expect him to do what he was told when at other people’s houses.  Luckily, he’s a pretty well behaved little boy – he eats nicely, hasn’t yet learnt to be rude to people when talking to them, and doesn’t yet play up.

shocked toddler
N’s reaction to being told there was no more food…(not really!)

Some children just get really excited by situations and circumstances, so you can allow for some over-excitement, but this child was just let to roam when he wanted.  He faffed with his meals, got grumpy, and decided he wanted to stop me entering the house, by holding on to my rear jeans pockets even after his mum told him not too.  Not really acceptable behaviour.

At one point, I’d caught N wandering off and climbing up one of the tractor steps, so reminded him he couldn’t go out of sight (ie away from the grass or tennis court)…the other child said ‘he’s fine to come, I’ll keep an eye on him’.   Really?  You’re 4 years old, I’m not sure I want my child wandering round a farmyard with lots of equipment, and potentially vehicles driving in and out.  Oh, and there’s an unfenced pond – sure it’s safe for under 5s to be roaming on their own out of my sight!  He then kept going on about it, until eventually he realised I wasn’t giving in.

Another time I went to check what they were up to outside, to find N being body charged and knocked over, then being held down in a neck-lock.  Now, my son likes a bit of rough and tumble, usually with his dad, uncle or even with his older cousins (we’re talking 9 years+ who know what level of play to stop at), and seemed fairly happy at first.  But there’s only so much a toddler can take before getting upset.  On some occasions, N just wanted to potter on his own, but the child wouldn’t let it go until I had to remove N and bring him inside.

balance bike riding
Practicing on his balance bike

There probably wasn’t enough entertainment for the child given he didn’t have anything as such to play with.  I think as a parent, I’d have brought along a football or some sort of outdoor toy for the children to play with.  I knew that there wouldn’t be anything to play with for N, given the baby being christened is only 7 months old, so prepared for that with a couple of items that I knew would keep him entertained, so it wouldn’t have been hard for them to pack a couple of toys to entertain their children.

Maybe I’m too strict and expect too much of slightly older children, but comparing this child to our 4 year old cousin and friends’ children that age, I’ve never seen them behave like that and get away with it when they’re visiting friends, or even where there’s a big group of children around.  I guess it’s a fine line and there’s always going to be different ways of parenting and levels of expectations.  It does make me feel proud when people who’ve never met him before, come up after the weekend and say what a lovely little boy N is.

I’d hope that by the time N’s that age, that he enjoys playing and exploring, and pushing and challenging boundaries to a certain extent, but will listen to what the rules are once he’s warned.

Have you ever had any situations where you’ve wanted to say something to another child and had to hold your tongue?

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