Behaviour of friend's toddler at my house

(131 Posts)
lilyleelee Mon 11-Mar-13 10:51:29

This weekend an old friend and her husband came to stay at my house with her 2-month old baby (an angel) and 2 and a half-year old girl (not so much of an angel).
I don't have children, so I'm not sure when children start understanding 'rules' and 'right and wrong'.
From the moment they arrived, the toddler was touching everything -- taking fridge magnets off the fridge, dropping and breaking them; picking up my mobile phone and pushing all the buttons; picking up a doorstop and pulling buttons off of it. I didn't say anything, because I was waiting for my friends to do that, but they never said a word. My husband did take an item off the toddler on the last morning, telling her she couldn't have it, which resulted in tears and whingeing.
I didn't really speak up (though I wanted to) because I felt it would be rude/unkind to tell off their daughter. I also kind of feel it should be the parents' job, not mine, to supervise her behaviour. I didn't want to cause bad feeling between me and my old and dear friend, but equally I now feel annoyed and would be reluctant to have them in my house again.
I realise that toddlers are into everything, but what about when those things aren't theirs, and they damage them?

adeucalione Mon 11-Mar-13 10:55:48

I think it sounds like normal 2yo behaviour but also think that the parents should have been stopping her from causing actual damage (breaking fridge magnets, pulling buttons off doorstop) or touching anything that could be damaged (your phone). Certainly, my friends with toddlers would not allow their child to behave like this without comment. In my experience they do seem to develop a bit more self control over the next 12 months though, so you might be safe to invite them back next year grin

BigGiantCowWithAKnockKnockTail Mon 11-Mar-13 10:57:03

Everything you say she did is absolutely natural behaviour for a toddler. However, different parents have different boundaries and some blinker themselves when at other people's houses.

I'm much stricter with DD than some of my friends are with their DCs and I make a point of maintaining that level when at their houses. Unfortunately they don't all adhere to my 'rules' when they come to us, despite my reminding DD of stuff (like asking before she gets down from the table, not to-ing and fro-ing during a meal) and I always end up biting my tongue.

If you invite them again I think it would be worth putting away/out of reach anything you particularly don't want to be ruined played with.

CelticPixie Mon 11-Mar-13 10:57:33

Very rude behaviour on behalf of your friends. How is their daughter supposed to learn right from wrong if they are not prepared to tell her off when she does wrong? All toddlers want to touch and play with things, but its the parents jobs to stop them from doing. Sadly though a lot of parents think the sun shines out of their kids and that everything they do is adorable.

choceyes Mon 11-Mar-13 10:59:01

Yes normal 2yr old behaviour, but the parents should have been stopping her from damaging things. I wouldn't let my 2.5yr old meddle with other peoples stuff and damamge them, however much she wanted to. The issue here is not the behaviour of the child, it is of the parents.

WowOoo Mon 11-Mar-13 10:59:03

It's your house, so I would have said something.
This has happened in my house and I've spoken directly to the child, nicely but firmly.
Also, it's best to move anything easily breakable and precious such as mobile phones out of reach.

I don't think they're ever too young to hear 'No, put that down' etc.
Don't feel bad. Your friends should have been a bit more on the ball. Perhaps they are extremely tired from the new baby.

MrsPurple Mon 11-Mar-13 10:59:09

This sounds like typical toddler behaviour but equally did the parents not intervene and stop the child? At that age they do know right from wrong so should have been told no at least. I had similar experince few years back and even though i had children who were a few years older, my friend said they don't understand at this age. Maybe just a case of your friends not realising that their child is of the age that they can be told. They are still learning, as parenthood is a huge learning curve. Dont't let it ruin your friendship and maybe either move things or make a light hearted joke of it by saying " gosh isn't xxxx intelligent she seems to be in to everything, I bet she runs you ragged keeping up with ensuring she doesn't hurt herself or break anything". If you say it as a compliment they may just get the hint smile

lilyleelee Mon 11-Mar-13 10:59:52

CelticPixie: I didn't hear them say 'no' to her once the whole weekend, or raise their voices even a little, but I'm not sure whether this is normal with young children.

FlumpsRule Mon 11-Mar-13 11:00:16

YANBU and should congratulate yourself on great patience. I am a mother of two (older well trained) & would not hold back. Unfortunately toddlers are into everything, which is natural & great, but need constant attention/distraction unless in a safe, breakage free environment. Parents were probably trying to have a break whilst at your house & may be unaware of the stress they've transferred!

HecateWhoopass Mon 11-Mar-13 11:00:37

The child's behaviour is perfectly normal for that age. I'd be more concerned about a toddler that wasn't into everything, tbh. That's how they learn about the world around them.

The parents are at fault here. There's no way you sit back and let your toddler loose in someone else's home!

And you really should have asked them to stop letting her wreck stuff. It's ok to tell them to stop her.

Touching is fine, breaking is not.

AnnIonicIsoTronic Mon 11-Mar-13 11:00:47

Next time - go for a refreshing walk to the park together. Easier on everyone involved.

Eskino Mon 11-Mar-13 11:00:58

I have a 2yo and while he is far better behaved than the young lady you encountered grin. I would have thought it obvious that you don't leave a mobile phone lying where one could reach it. They find them fascinating.

Fridge magnets look like toys to a 2 yo and if one got broken it will have been accidentally.

I'm glad your DH took something off her that's she wasn't supposed to have, you shouldn't be afraid of doing that. But the parents should have been watching her and saying no too.

Maybe they thought that you would have put all the things you didn't want her to get out of harms way already, and that anything left was 'fair game' for their toddler.

Next time eh? wink

HecateWhoopass Mon 11-Mar-13 11:01:22

Saying no is fairly normal. Most parents say it so often the child thinks their name is No wink

everlong Mon 11-Mar-13 11:03:43

Toddlers can be like this and yes it's annoying.

But her parents should not have let her get away with it.

You did well not to say anything.

I think it would be unreasonable to assume that this is a fair snap-shot of your friend's parenting techniques with a very new newborn in the mix. You will probably find they are more on the ball with discipline in a few months time.

javabean Mon 11-Mar-13 11:05:52

Is typical toddler behaviour and her parents should be guiding her away from your stuff. But, it can be very hard work keeping an inquisitive toddler out of everything, the best thing to do is hide away stuff rather than expect to have it on show and for the toddler to leave it alone. And distract with other interesting items that are toddler-friendly.

Also, as the host, you don't have to actually tell off the 2yo. A cheery "oh dear, that's not for you, let's put it away and see what we can find for you to play with" works much better.

LandofTute Mon 11-Mar-13 11:06:44

Entirely normal behaviour for a 2 year old to be touching everything. It isn't naughty. They should have taken the phone off her and stopped her damaging things, but it sounds like you have lots of knick knacks at toddler level so it would have been pretty tiresome for them to be constantly taking things off her the whole weekend. Next time could you move all the bits and bobs above toddler level?

DoJo Mon 11-Mar-13 11:10:08

I think it's up to you to say something too though - I have friends who will let my son play with their phones etc quite happily, so if you wanted yours to be off limits you need to take it away and put it somewhere out of reach. Perhaps your friends assumed you didn't mind her touching things because you didn't say anything.

ceebeegeebies Mon 11-Mar-13 11:12:37

Agree with the others - totally normal behaviour of the 2 year old but the parents really should have stopped her breaking/touching stuff.

I always remember going to visit my DB and his DP just after they had had their DC - DS1 was about 18 months old at the time and particularly difficult to control (he is now 6.5 and still the same <sigh>. Me and DH spent most of the visit telling him to stop touching stuff etc and it wasn't particularly enjoyable but had to be done. I had to laugh though when DB asked if he was always like this and if all children were - I think they were panicking when they realised what their lovely 2-month old baby was going to turn into wink

Tanith Mon 11-Mar-13 11:17:05

Normal behaviour, I'm afraid.

My FIL collects first editions: he has a valuable book collection and treats all books with a care bordering on reverence.

I shall never forget the look on his face when, on a visit, he witnessed toddler DS clearing the bookshelves in his bedroom and dumping them on the floor.

We weren't invited to his house for years grin

LandofTute Mon 11-Mar-13 11:18:03

Looking after a 2 month old and a 2.5 year old is actually very demanding. Rather than being reluctant to have them over again, I'd be thinking of how you can help them. You could distract the little girl by engaging with her and playing with her. Maybe give her some items that you don't mind her playing with, such as kitchen pans, wooden spoon etc. I'm sure they'd be grateful.

bangwhizz Mon 11-Mar-13 11:20:30

Maybe at 18m or even 24m , children would be like you described , but by 2.5 which is the age they start pre-school around these parts, most of them are well past that sort of behaviour- especially girls.

LandofTute Mon 11-Mar-13 11:20:38

It does work the other way though. I stopped visting my neighbour as she had so many knick knacks at toddler height, that it just wasn't enjoyable going there as i had to spend the whole time pulling my dd away from them.

SolomanDaisy Mon 11-Mar-13 11:22:42

Normal behaviour for a toddler. It's difficult to know whether they should have said more, because they may have assumed you were happy with her having the stuff since you said nothing. Some people give my toddler their phone to play with for example. Most toddlers here the word no 100s of times a day, but I would only expect a raised voice in an emergency!

juneau Mon 11-Mar-13 11:31:36

I can see why this has distressed you as a non-parent - I'm sure I'd have felt the same and also similarly uncomfortable with saying anything before I had kids of my own.

However, in future it's fine to say something - but being gentle, smiley and offering an alternative 'toy' will go down better with a small child than taking the thing and just saying 'no' - that will generally end in tears. My 22-month-old loves all kinds of things he's not allowed, but a simple 'Here, why don't you play with this instead?' is all that's needed.

I'm sure your friend was knackered if she's got a toddler and a new baby. I'd give her the benefit of the doubt if she's an old friend and perhaps be a bit more prepared and assertive yourself next time. Put your precious things on high shelves, electronic items out of reach, and have a few things that you don't mind the DC playing with so you can offer those as alternatives.

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