Something weird has been happening of late which made me wonder if it was about time I taught my toddler to stand up for herself.
There’s been an air of extreme toddler aggression permeating life as we know it. And it hasn’t been emanating from our toddler in residence. Yup, the last week has seen our toddler getting full on bopped, shoved, hit over the head, and full on poked alongside all other manner of physical misdemeanours.
I know, I know, all par for the course of being a toddler but seriously, am I going to let our little girl just sit there and take it like a wuss? Am I really just going to reply with “Oh but honey you have to share” next time someone whacks her because they want something she is playing with? Those frequent readers of this blog probably know the answer here: Hell no!
In this day and age, it feels like the whole concept of sharing, consideration and social etiquette has just been taken a step too far. We are all supposed to be oh so polite in the face of rudeness and aggression, take it on the chin, turn the other cheek…and all against the backdrop of an increasingly aggressive culture.
But the question is, does this really help prepare out little ones for the worryingly high rate of bullying that is out there, and that is cited to begin as early as pre-school (see more here)?
With childhood bullying at an all time high with 1 in 4 children being on the receiving end of bullying (source: STOMP Out Bullying), while I am all for teaching manners and consideration, empowering and supporting our children emotionally, and teaching them empathy so they do not become the bullies; I am NOT for teaching them to lie down and take it.
I strongly believe we need to teach our kids to stand up for themselves, and from where I’m standing, with the relatively advanced nature of children these days, I believe we need to start teaching them to stand up for themselves from a young – or younger age. And if bullying starts as early as pre-school, then I think planting those seeds to help them deal with those situations can, and should, start as early as 2 years old.
So much is written about teaching children to stand up for themselves at school age – but what about before? I am not some kind of neurotic “oh my daughter is going to be bullied!” mum but neither do I want to be. I know I can’t stop it, but I can give her the tools to deal with it which is precisely why, at the young age of 2 years old and prompted by recent events, I have begun teaching my daughter to stand up for herself – to of course be polite and not be the perpetrator, but also not to take any crap.
I have taught her to shout “NO”! when someone shoves her aggressively. I have also taught her that just because someone shoves her, it is NOT ok to shove others. I have even gone so far as role playing a situation with her. Of course, when push comes to shove (excuse the pun), the chances of her using these tools in the heat of the moment at this age are probably quite low but at the very least she is empowered by the knowledge that she has these tools if she needs them.
And perhaps it will also help her to get a handle on her emotions at times like these, as well as laying the foundations for her response to future misdemeanours as not only she – but also the way in which she engages with the big wide world – evolves.
What do you think? Is it ever too young to start teaching our children to start standing up for themselves? Have you started to teach your toddler to stand up for themselves and if so, how? I’d love to hear your views…