Real moms tell you how to stop people from touching or feeding your child
I recently got into an argument with a neighbour who insisted on feeding candy to my two-year-old. My daughter and her son would often play together. One day, she went to her house. The mother offered her candy, which obviously my daughter happily accepted. My neighbour then went on to give her a handful of candy. Thankfully, I saw her do so and asked her not to give her candy as my daughter isn't used to eating too much sugar. 'You are being too strict,' she said to me, 'It's okay to eat candy once in a while. Kids are SUPPOSED to eat candy!' I kept trying to make her understand that my daughter isn't used to eating candy and I do not approve of her trying to feed my child. The neighbour got very offended and said that I was being too strict. long story short, her son is not allowed to play with my daughter anymore. I was sad that she felt offended about this and that it ultimately resulted in separating these two little friends.
Not many parents are comfortable with other people giving toys and foods to their kids, or strangers trying to pinch their child's cheeks. As parents, we are constantly struggling with boundaries when it comes to people dealing with your children. How do you tell off a stranger, even if it's a friendly-looking old lady? How do you stop a well-meaning relative from gifting hazardous toys? Real moms share how they deal with such situations.
- Be polite, yet FIRM: As a parent, your first responsibility is towards your child. I know there can be sticky situations involving family members who do not abide by your parenting beliefs. In such cases, I simply tell them that certain territories are no-g0. What my child wears, eats or plays with is something i will decide. Don't be harsh about it, but send out the message that certain things cannot be tolerated. (Rakhee Vij, mother to a 5-year-old).
- Blame it on the child: My daughter has very chubby cheeks, which seem to be pinch magnets. I have had to stop so many people from touching my baby's cheeks. Imagine all the germs and dirt they are passing on to her! What I do now is I keep her close to me when we are out. The moment someone approaches us to see the baby, I say outright that she does not like being touched by strangers. Mommies need to develop a radar that spots possible baby cheek-pinchers. (Srividya Srinivan, mother to a 19-months-old).
- Walk away: I do this the moment anybody dishes out a candy or chicken nugget in my daughter's presence. I get up and take her away. At the cost of sounding prude, I do not approve of most candies and severely ration my daughter's sugar intake. I do not expect every parent or person to adhere to that, but I definitely believe in doing so. (Author)
- Trust your intuition: When you become a mom, you develop a mom-sense. This is what tells you when your child is full, or when your toddler is lying about who scribbled on the walls. As with most kids, people like to play with my son too when we are out shopping or in a restaurant. I do not stop my son from interacting with strangers in my presence, but sometimes certain people just don't give out good vibes. I cannot explain that, but a mother would understand what I mean. When I feel that a person is no good, I trust my instinct. (Shilpa Zakaria, mom to a 3-year-old)
- Train your child to say NO: The best defence is to teach your child to say a firm no. As a one-year-old, my daughter would go around saying 'no touch' whenever another child started playing rough. I kept teaching her that she should say 'no' even to strangers who try to touch her. When training your child to say no, repetition is the key. I told her that it was okay to smile or wave, but touching is definitely a no-no. (Priya Jain, mother to a two-year-old)
In my opinion, a parent can never be too careful. I'm not saying that every person out there wants to harm your child, but how do you weed out the creeps from the well-meaning people? I trust my instincts and put my child's safety first. What do you do? I would like to hear what other parents do to keep their children safe and healthy.
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