Within limits, it really is true if you do not
take care of yourself, no one else is going to. This old adage fairly well
defines parenting tasks related to teaching children to fight and fend for
themselves. First, your child needs to learn to assert and protect her rights.
Next, she must learn there are limits to assertiveness. Finally, she must learn
when to trust other people to not harm her and when to turn her safekeeping
over to others. In the bicycle riding example, your preschooler or grade
schooler needs to assert her right to try to ride the bicycle alone. Next, she
needs to accept the reality wrecking the bicycle or hurting herself are not
worth making the point she can do it herself. Finally, she must accept a little
assistance in steadying herself.
Your preschooler should definitely assert her
right not to have her toys taken away by a younger brother. She must learn,
though, not to shove little brother or hit him in the head. Finally, she must
accept the reality these types of disputes are sometimes best mediated by Mom
or Dad. You want to be very sure, though, she does first try asserting and
protecting her rights on her own. If she is excessively aggressive, respond
only to the excesses and not to her asserting and protecting her rights.
If two children get into an argument and
immediately run to you to tattle on each other, tell them they have to work on
the problem a while longer before you are willing to intervene. (It is an
interesting and frequently overlooked fact, when two children are in an
argument, it is usually the younger child who started it. Typically, the older
child gets blamed, when the younger child has actually caused the problem to