When a fellow kindergarten mom approached me at the pickup spot and bemoaned that her daughter was ‘six going on 16’ in terms of attitude, I just couldn’t relate. We had either not hit that stage yet or it wasn’t going to be part of our twin reality. Besides grumbling about cleaning rooms and occasional sibling squabble, our kids’ attitudes were not anything to stress about. But like all things kid, the effects of a few aggressive playmates eventually got to our kids. Throughout my twins first year of school I learned a few tips and tricks that helped us get through it all. I’m hoping I set a good foundation for future issues.
Here’s 5 tips to deal with aggressive playmates and your twins.
1. Play the “we don’t have time” card
First, I played the ‘we don’t have time’ card. Don’t get me wrong: I ALWAYS have time to listen to what my kids have to say; I’ll never be too busy to hear them talk about their day. I just wanted them to seriously consider if school drama was really worth taking up family or fun time to talk about. If they were neither the bully or being bullied on, the incident happened 10 hours ago and was handled by a teacher or another adult, is there really anything to be done now? This also protected me from losing sleep; the thought of a little kid being picked on would break my heart.
2. Have perspective
It’s not enough that Billy was picking on Mary but have your child ponder the WHY. Everyone, especially kids, are blind to the inner turmoil of others; there’s no way to know the exact reason people make the decisions they do. Maybe Mary had irritated Billy in some way and that was his revenge. Maybe Billy had an unstable situation in his home life and was acting out. Maybe someone had just woken up on the wrong side of the bed; we’re all entitled to a few bad days every once in a while. Putting themselves in another’s shoes will help with problem solving and could possibly turn their ‘tattling’ into positive action.
3. Calling them out
Calling a child on their crap is also a necessary tool. When Ruthie came home in a grim mood saying that everyone ignored her at school that day, I had to weed through and find the truth from the hurt feelings. EVERYONE was an exaggeration. Her teacher was pleasant to her all day and of course she and her sister played a recess, etc. She was really upset that her classmates didn’t help her when papers fell out of her book bag when the final bell rang. I explained that it was possible they weren’t paying attention or they were running for the door and unless someone intentionally ripped her papers up in her face, the world was not out to get her.
4. Talk about it
When it came to our girls being the target of aggressive classmates or the child being aggressive, I took what some may consider the lazy way around it. I didn’t pay much attention to the gossip of fellow parents; I figured if there was a serious problem either way the school would contact me. But I also worried that our girls’ friendliness and easy going nature would also leave them open to getting pushed around and in this day and age especially that wasn’t going to fly. I certainly didn’t want them to be bullies but I didn’t want them to be victims either; I wanted to set the standard early, so to speak. So when the girls came home and they seemed more upset by the classroom happenings than usual, we would sit and talk about what they could do.
This talk might vary by child based on school rules or a parents’ personal beliefs, but I basically gave the girls a three strikes general rule. If a fellow classmate was bothering them they would first ask them to stop. This didn’t require name-calling or a loud voice; just simply state what the problem is and say they didn’t like it. Second, would be to move areas or seats. Chances are good they were a victim of location and moving desks or walking to another part of the playground would make the annoyance less likely to continue. Third step would be to tell a teacher or adult. With this, I explained that timing is not always ideal for this. Unless bodily harm is being done, most teachers would not appreciate being interrupted for them to ‘tattle’. But I encouraged them to calmly and clearly tell their teacher if the right time presented itself and they were still bothered by the situation. Bringing it to the attention of the teacher would hopefully thwart future problems and honestly, there’s a certain point when the ‘rise above’ attitude stops working.
5. Picking your battles
I hit a true parental conundrum when Eva got caught up defending one girl in an even exchanging of verbal blows. It was the most trouble she had been in all year; missing a few minutes of recess so the teacher could determine why the three girls had been talking over her and subsequently sent to their desks. I had to tread very carefully; I wasn’t going to scold her for sticking up for a friend in what she thought was a one sided name calling and possibly damage her caring and protective nature; I loved that about her, but I couldn’t just gloss over it and have her tangled in more cat fights. So we sat on our front porch and talked about picking battles wisely (in this case, literally). I explained that during a quiet time in a school setting, two kids going at each other would be noticed quickly by the teacher and to avoid getting lumped into the trouble while the teacher sorts it out, it was better not to get involved. There was a difference between unprovoked bullying and two kids going at it for sport.
With double (or triple or quadruple) the kids, comes double the drama and influence other kids have on our own. In a few years, I might reread my tips and tricks and laugh that I ever thought it was that easy. For now I’m confident that this mind set and reflection will get us through the first few years of school and set a good foundation for even minded and even tempered kids in the future. Just in case, I’ll start praying for sanity now that we survive our kids’ teen years. I hope that just because I’m not dealing with ‘six going on 16’ now doesn’t mean it carried over to the actual age of 16!
Leah Bryant is a stay at home mom of three, identical twin girls and a son. She is a proud Kansas native (insert favorite Toto quote here) and currently resides in the Kansas City metro area. Besides being constantly surprised by the wonders of raising twins and caring for her family, Leah’s hobbies include cooking/baking, gardening, reading actual grown up books along with Dr. Seuss, and cheering on her favorite home-grown sports teams. Leah also meets the challenge of keeping up with Sonny, the newest member of the family. He is an American Eskimo dog the family adopted after he was rescued from a puppy mill. While Leah is active on most social media sites, you can find her family blog at http://twinsplusabe.tumblr.com/.