Gina Davidson: Keep noses out of kids’ battles

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WITH three children there is not a day that goes by in my house without some Major Falling Out occurring.

Usually it’s between me and them and involves an inability to pick up after themselves, an inability to move quickly, or an inability to know when to stop answering back. But often it’s between them and their friends.

Oh, the slights they suffer! Like not being chosen as a partner at gym; or being tagged in the playground and not being able to catch anyone; or being told that someone else said they were rubbish at football/cartwheels/Lego/singing/spelling . . . delete as appropriate.

It is all just nonsense and part of growing up and – here’s the controversial bit – I’d say girls are far worse than boys. But they go from being cut to the quick and No Longer Friends with the dastardly perpetrator of their hurt feelings to being desperate to go round to play with them, everything forgotten, in the blink of an eye. Never would it cross my mind to raise any of these fallings-out with the parents of another child; not even when “bad” language has reportedly been used, which happens more often the older they get.

Well, when I say never, that’s because I’ve learned this through experience. The protective she-wolf instinct can kick in if you feel your kid has been at the sharp end of a raw deal, been mocked or “picked on” and it’s easy in the heat of the moment to pick up the phone and rant at the parent of another kid (because no matter how reasonable and in the right you feel, you will undoubtedly be ranting).

If you’re lucky, like I was, your rant is to an answering machine, and you can then – five minutes later when you realise what an idiot you’ve been – leave another message apologising.
Kids and playground spats go together like packed lunches and burst yoghurt pots.

Unless there is real bullying going on – systemic, ritual verbal or physical abuse whenever a teacher is out of sight – then the rows are best empathised with, a life lesson perhaps learned, but overall they should be quickly put behind them. What shouldn’t happen is parents getting involved to the extent that they take it up a few notches and have a fight at the school gates.

Having never been a fan of a good old playground “pagger” when at school myself, the idea that grown women would throw a few punches because their kids had a falling out is mind-boggling.

But this is what appears to have happened at Victoria Primary in Newhaven, apparently leaving the children who witnessed it shocked and distressed. Quite why it got to that stage is still being investigated by the police. But social media doesn’t help – just ask the two mums at Broomhouse primary who had a playground brawl last year because of comments made on Facebook about one of their children.

You might want to help your child fight their battles, but it’s not a phrase which should be taken literally. Indeed, it’s actually better for children if parents to keep well out of it. Resolving their issues with their friends – even if that ultimately means they’re no longer friends – is good for their development and resilience and even their self-esteem.

If their parent steps in, a child can feel that they’re not considered capable enough to sort it out themselves. As difficult as parenting is, modelling good behaviour is a major part of the job – getting into a fist fight should not be top of the CV.

Being a parent is hard – of course you want to defend your kids if you feel they’ve been slighted. But so is being a kid, and they can do without everyone at school thinking that their parent has anger-management issues.

Warm welcome

THE weather is bitterly cold, but I have no doubt the welcome for the 50 Syrian refugees arriving in Edinburgh this week will be warm. It’s the least we can do to show support for people fleeing bombs and bullets and danger from all sides. Edinburgh will be their sanctuary.

Personal pain can help other people

KUDOS to Sarra Hoy and her efforts to raise awareness about the developmental issues premature babies can face. Her son, Callum, was born 11 weeks early last year, and given that his father is Sir Chris Hoy, his arrival made headlines.

On Tuesday night the Balmoral, Murrayfield Stadium and the Sheraton Hotel among buildings were bathed in purple light in support of the Bliss campaign.

More important is the TheirWorld research launched in Edinburgh by Sarah Brown, whose first child, Jennifer, was born seven weeks prematurely in 2002, and lived for just ten days. This will track 400 premature babies through their lives to see what challenges they face as a result of being born early, and hopefully speed the development of new health treatments.

Two great women using their personal experiences to great effect.

Grassmarket traders need help to survive

A FASCINATING decision by the council not to let the Greater Grassmarket Business Improvement District go ahead with its plans for a Victorian Christmas in an effort to attract people to shop more locally.

Given that the area is not part of the council’s own “Edinburgh’s Christmas” programme – another odd decision – you’d expect them to freely back a plan to bring more footfall to the historic Grassmarket and West Bow, which have been adversely affected by the attractions in Princes Street.

Residents were obviously unhappy with the plan – most likely because of the “vintage” funfair, and were probably dubious about the organisers’ pledges on noise controls given that they’ll have heard such promises before.

So the Grassmarket is in a bind – it’s a residential area with a historic trading heart which needs to have support if it’s to survive. One shop owner, Colin Hope, is right when he said “they [the council] need to make up their minds if they want the Grassmarket to work as a commercial area or not”.

I look forward to hearing of the area’s inclusion in next year’s “official” celebrations.