Sometimes blog posts just drop into my lap. This was one of those times. Just another day in paradise, coping with the usual chaotic pick up from day care, where my children were inevitably bickering over some take-home item that clearly didn’t belong to either of them (after being perfect at day care all day long…remember How to Speak the Right Language: Understanding Your Child’s Cues?).
As one delivered the “You don’t take things from me!” in screechy, ear-deafening banshee-wail and raised a hand to grab/pinch/hit/take your pick, I curbed the fight with a simple, direct “Let me be the mommy.” They immediately looked to me and I started to talk to both of them about the item and who it belonged to and brokered the appropriate peaceful resolution.
As I turned back to packing their things, another mom walked up to me and said “That’s a fantastic phrase! I’ve never heard that before and it’s so smart. I’m totally going to use that. Thank you!!” And the blog post angels sing. As Gru in Despicable Me (best movies ever!) says, “Lightbulb!”
So, what does that phrase mean to my kids? I noticed that both of them just love playing the role of the little policeman. They constantly boss each other about, are the first to ring the bell when someone breaks a rule and often get into huge fights with each other over perceived injustices that sometimes, almost always, end up with someone crying, getting hit/pinched/bit/take your pick or an all out WWE wrestling match.
I started asking “Hey! Who is the mommy here?” and they’d both yell “You are the mommy!” and I’d reply “Ok, then, let me be the mommy and step back a minute and trust me to figure this out for you.” Situation diffused. It’s evolved over time to just “Let me be the mommy” and while not a perfect system, most of the time, it gives me just enough pause to step in and regain control.
This serves two major purposes for my kids and I:
1. It teaches them to trust me to advocate on their behalf and proceed fairly to a calm resolution that makes everybody happy. The “hurt” individual gets vindicated and the “hurting” individual gets an opportunity to thoughtfully choose to do the right thing.
2. It teaches them that it is inappropriate for them to take matters into their own hands and address frustrations with violence. The better response is to seek help from a trusted adult.
Identifying family roles and appropriate behavior are key at this age. We’re currently battling the tantrum phase as well, and I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about that little gem later. Right now, this is our mommy phrase that pays and I’m going to keep on keepin’ on with it until the cows come home.