As a new parent, one of the most challenging things is the social interaction of your child. Whether you have a playdate with a friend, or with strangers (like a playgroup), children tend to be more visceral rather than rational, and suddenly both of the parents are put in a strange uncomfortable situation.
Sometimes, it is hard to know when to intervene. As educators, we tend to encourage critical thinking and problem solving, but on another hand, as a parent, there are some basic norms, social rules that everyone has to learn.
For me, I learnt from experience. I used to be “kind of” on top of my child, because I felt that it was my duty as a parent, to teach him how to behave: don’t take that toy, wait your turn, you had that toy for too long it is time to share…etc. Plus, like any other parent, I felt the pressure to do so in order to not be labelled as “I don’t care” or “I don’t teach my child manners” by other parents. But sometimes, this just doesn’t help and creates a bigger problem.
The truth is that with my daughter, things are much easier. Experience has taught me that most of the time, especially as they grow, they can solve problems perfectly on their own, and parents jumping in at first sight (even if we do it with our best intentions) might end being less beneficial than thought in a beginning.
Although much of this is based on finding the right balance between helping out “too soon” and “not soon enough”, I find that teaching a good base is much more important. Rather than telling them what to do, or what not to do, I believe that giving them the tools to handle these situations is a much more sensitive approach: empathy, understanding, apologizing when necessary, and compromising are great abilities to teach our children.
After all, these are skills we will use throughout our whole lives, not only as children but as adults.