It is with glee that I notice, once again, that I'm way over the edge over here on the coast... I wouldn't do (or recommend) doing any of the three choices given by beagreatparent.ca, as quoted in an article from St. Catharine's The Standard... click on that link if you want to read the full article, but this is the segment I'm commenting on today:
Your toddler and her friend are fighting over a doll.
When the friend pulls it away from her, your daughter punches the girl and grabs it back.
Take the doll away and explain to the girls that they can have it back when they can share and play nicely together?
Do nothing. After all, it is your daughter's doll. Her friend can find something else to play with; kids need to sort out their own problems.
Take the doll away and tell your daughter that you're selling it in a garage sale. She can start saving her allowance if she wants it back.*
The first is 'strict' parenting, the second is 'permissive' and the third is labeled (mis-labeled, in my opinion) 'balanced.' What the third option really is, though, is just as controlling and authoritarian as the first. Different, but the same end of the spectrum. 2.1 options, not three.
When a child is struggling for ownership over her object --with anyone-- it just can't be a parent's job to take possession of the object. Unless what the parent really means is 'none of your stuff is actually yours.' It doesn't matter if the object is removed forever or if it can be purchased back from the thief:
It is either the child's possession or it is not.
Think about this in the context of the society we actually live in: you and your neighbour have a dispute over half of a driveway that is owned by one party. Does the court step in, take it away and rent out the space to just anyone until the actual owner buys it back, with a threat to sell it if they don't pony up fast enough?
Why are we teaching children that anyone who considers themselves an authority gets to 'own' their objects until they're satisfied that atonement has been made sufficient to the infraction?
- Children do not learn to share in an environment where they own or control nothing. All the energy they might have to share something with genuine generosity is spent in fighting for, confirming and protecting their ownership.
- We do not live in a 'sharing' culture --it's a fun idea, but no one is allowed to come to your house and use whatever they want for however they want whenever they are there. Here is an example: I'm sending a friend over later to get your car... you can have it back when she's done with it, in whatever condition she happens to leave it. This is, of course, fine because you were taught to share, right? Is it different because it's a 5 year old, or is it only because their stuff is not valuable to anyone but them?
- There is a sliding scale of extremely strict to a more balanced style of authoritarian parenting. The key is whether or not someone other than the child is seeking to control what the child does, what the child thinks or what is important to the child... the question to ask is 'what if the child still doesn't do what the parent wants?' The answer to that clears up any doubt that this is about command and control, carrot and stick parenting, whether it uses the rapport-building manipulative communication styles or straight-up ordering kids around.
There is no real 'third option' in this article... just one point on the permissive end and two points on the strict/authoritarian end and one at the other end.
Which is unfortunate, because there is a third option.
*Toddler, seriously? We're going to make a toddler 'save their allowance and buy it back'? A toddler?!
Photo used with permission (Creative Commons license, attributed) Sharing by PlatinumBlondeLIfe