I’m entering into this phase of mothering where I really don’t have any idea what I’m doing. When the kids were infants, I knew what to do based mostly on instinct and a little bit of experience with other babies. But now, I have a toddler and a 3-year-old (does the 3-year-old still count as a toddler?! Please say yes!) with totally different preferences for play and social interaction. My brain is slowly learning to keep up, but I keep finding myself sitting on the couch with my mouth hanging slightly. There may or may not be confused grunting sounds involved.
And, you know, just when I think I’ve got it down, they change it up on me and I’m scratching my head again.
Anyway, most often, my biggest issue rears its head during their playtime. Ever since they’ve begun to play together, I’ve closely monitored their interaction and most of the time, I am instructing Jack to Give that toy back to Forrest right now! or We don’t rip things out of people’s hands! or No, we don’t push! or If you want that toy, you need to ask nicely! or Jack, you are going to have to have a time-out if you keep hurting your brother! It’s not that Jack isn’t a gentle boy in general, but when it comes to toys, he’s going through a very possessive phase in his development. I am trying to be gentle and understanding as I teach him the proper way to respond, but sometimes it clashes with my desire to protect my younger son.
I second-guess myself a lot in these situations because like I said, part of me wants to protect Forrest and teach Jack the way he needs to behave, but the other part of me wonders, Should I just let them work it out and intervene only when I know Forrest might get hurt? Now, to be fair, Forrest is a little stinker and sometimes he takes a toy from Jack’s hands, but I do take the opportunity to correct him in those situations, too.
I guess, ultimately, I’d love some feedback from any of you parents of 2 or more out there in the blogosphere. How do you monitor your young children’s interactions? Do you intervene? If so, why? Do you step back and allow them a little room to work it out? If so, why?