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What's the accepted way to deal with toddlers who do the following?

(8 Posts)
Bearcrumble Tue 28-Jun-11 20:25:00

I was at the park yesterday and as it was hot it was quite busy - lots of people on picnic blankets with food and toys etc.

I was on my own with DS (16 months) and he kept going over to people on adjoining patches and either staring at them or playing with their toys. None of the other babies seemed to be into other people's stuff in the way he was (or maybe I didn't notice).

Personally I don't mind if other kids come over to us and use his toys or have a bit of our food (as long as the parents don't mind) but I don't know how people feel about it generally.

Should I be going over to him immediately and steering him away or is it ok to let him stare/eat/play with other people's things.

One woman did take a toy back off him and I immediately apologised - perhaps I should have been there sooner and taken it from him and said 'that's not yours' - I really don't know and I'm happy to be guided on this because I am clueless.

crispyseaweed Tue 28-Jun-11 20:46:12

I think its probably a good idea to just closely observe if your little chappy is being an ok visitor or behaving in a way that might annoy others.
Obviously he is just a baby and nothing he does is his fault, he is very young and totally unaware of social graces and what is right and wrong.
In my view check out the faces of the people he toddles up to , if they're smiling and you can see they are enjoying his company then fine.
If they look totally disinterested and mildly disturbed by it all then best go up and take little one away. I personally would go and stop my toddler picking up other peoples toys , as that may not be what they want.
In time he will learn that you dont just go up to other people and take their toys, (but thats a long way off yet)
If you can see that he is walking all over their picnic or whatever then best say to your babe "No, dont do that. . . " and promptly remove him.
I think in the past i have actually said to someone something like, "Sorry, is he being a pest?" etc etc. You can only play it by ear with each different situation.
Rather than say, "Thats not yours" (as he knows its not his,) say "Give it back to the lady . . " "Good boy" etc.

sparkleshine Tue 28-Jun-11 20:55:16

If it were my 18 month old DS I would pull him away or just not allow him to go over in the first place.

He does love to walk and run everywhere and anywhere but I would steer him away, and tell him 'no' {repeatedly} and that the items aren't his and move away. He has to learn somehow. Not everything is available for them when they want.
Those families/children/toys/food aren't ours and I wouldn't allow him to just go over and play/grab stuff that isn't his/ours.

If that were me and my DS having a picnic on the grass and a random child came over to do this, I think I would be rather miffed that their parents had allowed them to.
But that's just me and I would find it quite rude, not the toddler as they don't know any better, especially at 16mths, but the parents who just don't care.

feedthegoat Tue 28-Jun-11 21:08:59

I would smile politely through gritted teeth but in all honesty I would be annoyed that another parent would think it was ok to sit back and allow her child to eat my childs lunch.

Like wise, be very wary about allowing random strange children to eat your food. My ds has an egg allergy and I got a shock once ds got to be old enough to stray further out of arms reach at just how many people seem to think it is ok to give a strange child food without checking first. I've had a couple of times I've had to leap over other people at a packed playarea to grab something off him that he'd been given by an adult. At 3 he was old enough to explore a soft play area without me helicopter parenting but not judge what food was safe to eat.

mistressploppy Tue 28-Jun-11 21:33:00

Reading with interest and just posting to let you know that your not alone, OP - my 20mo DS does this ALL the time, much more than anyone else's toddlers it feels!

I err on the side of caution and assume people won't want him around them - then if they smile and say 'oh, it's fine!' I can relax a bit

monkoray Tue 28-Jun-11 22:11:42

I think its fine to let a toddler go and state at people. I usually stand back and watch to gauge if its bothering them (eg I moved him away from a bunch of stonners in the park after I over heard one saying "dude that baby is freaking me out!").
If my ds trys to take food I would always intervene to stop him. If the person then says "oh its ok he can have x" that's their choice but I wouldn't let ds just do it and not go over and try to stop/apologize.
Ditto with toys, I'd stop him taking them. The only exception is footballs where I let him intercept them but then tell him to kick it back to the child who owns it. Sometimes that child will then initiate a game with ds which is great, bit that's their choice.

Bearcrumble Wed 29-Jun-11 20:20:59

Thanks for the replies - just to clarify I didn't let him grab food off other blankets but (probably equally as rudely) I did let him stand up close and stare at someone else's food for a few minutes. I called to him after it was obvious he wasn't going to leave it but when he didn't come back I went over to get him and tried to make a joke of it saying something like "I do feed him at home, honest!". The lady on the blanket then asked me if it was ok to offer him a biscuit. I too wouldn't hand out food to other kids without asking their carers first.

He is very hard to distract. I did go after him and physically steer him back to our blanket or the bit of the playground with the water squirters (it's brilliant - there are coloured spots they tread on and different spots or metal posts then send out jets of water) but he goes back to whatever he's been interested in over and over again. For example he took a shine to a toy hanging off someone else's pram and I went over to take him away from it about four times and he kept going back despite me showing him our toys or food. Then I was showing him to throw rubbish in the bin (and mentally praising myself for doing some GOOD PARENTING) but that backfired on me because then he got obsessed with going back to the bin and sticking his hands in it over and over again.

It was a good point you made, crispyseaweed about choosing to say 'give it back' rather than 'it's not yours' - I will use that in preference in future.

It's exhausting but I guess the majority verdict is that I should be a bit more quick to herd him away from other people's stuff.

Tgger Wed 29-Jun-11 21:34:40

Going to stare is fine but picking up stuff is not. I would watch closely and then get closer and distract him if he starts being too hands on with stuff.

I do remember many park occasions mind you when it was very normal to share snacks with all sorts of toddlers, but that was when their parents had come over and we had all had a bit of a chat. After a while I got to know quite a lot of parents and their toddlers and I remember one German couple who would have a huge snack bag that my DS would always work his way through quite merrily!!!

My DS was very sociable as a little one and would "gate crash" quite a few picnics etc, but they were usually Mums and children who I knew a bit from local playgroups and they would often let DS join in. I was quite sensitive and would whisk him away after a few minutes as I think they were being kind and not really inviting us to join their group as such!!

I think it's great when your children do open up conversations between adults in parks/playgrounds etc and especially when I just had DS (have DD now as well) I would be very open to meeting other parents/grandparents/old ladies just for a chat and for the kids to play together a bit- the trick is being sensitive to when this is welcomed by the other party and when not!!!

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