Navigating social situations with young kids can feel tricky sometimes especially when other people’s children are involved. It can be easy to slip into “performative parenting” when we parent for the audience rather than our child.
My go-to tool for the early childhood social scene is: narration, curiosity, and translation. Narration suspends judgement, so our children are less likely to get defensive and more likely to be receptive to what we say. It also validates and brings a new level of awareness to the situation (translation). One child feels understood and empowered, the other child begins to notice how their actions may be impacting others.
A quick example:
We have been reunited with our cousins after a year and a half! Five children between the ages of 3-10 years old. LOTS of climbing, jumping, rough-housing, running, tagging NON-STOP for hours. At one point, they all wanted to see who could pick-up whom. So our 10 year-old cousin picked-up Mr. 3.
The other mom and I weren’t sure if this was as fun for Mr. 3 as it was for the 10 year-old, so she asked “Mr. 3, do you like that game?”
Simple, but powerful. He said “yes” so the play continued.
If he would have said “no”, we would have verbally asserted a boundary:
“Put him back on the ground.”
And physically followed through if needed by removing Mr. 3 from Mr. 10’s hands.
So much of navigating social situations and teaching social skills is simply “translating” and helping with impulse control.
What does that grimace on his face tell you?
Do you *actually* like this game?
This is how you say “no”.
When someone says “stop” this is how you stop.
Small little teaching opportunities lead to big life skills.