Mummy stuff

It’s not fair!

The children had gathered around the teacher, impatiently pushing and shoving their little arms forward to grab one of the stormily admired hula-hoops. ‘Say please and thank you.’ the teacher had demanded earlier.

My motherly heart swelled with pride when little L held her hands up high and enthusiastically called ‘Peeease! Peeease!’ – in fact, she was the only kid who (tried to) say please. The shoving and pushing continued around her, and slowly, her hands sank and her voice became smaller. ‘Peeease. Peeease.’ The mop moved further away from her, pushing the teacher into a corner. One after the other, all the children had managed to get hold of a hula-hoop. All but little L.

With hanging shoulders, her gaze fixed on the floor in front of her, she quietly said ‘Peas. Peas.’ It was breaking my heart.


It’s like that no matter where we go. Little L is always the last to get a paintbrush, a rattle, a ribbon or a sticker. She isn’t shy. She is, in fact, a very confident and loud little person. She is just not pushy.

So what do I do now? Do I follow my very first impulse and whack that teacher over the head with that sodded hula-hoop? Or do I teach my little one how to elbow her way through life?


  1. There is nothing more frustrating but my youngest is not pushy either and it annoys the hell out of me and him.

    I think you explain to your daughter the predicament rather than try and change her natural responses. It is disappointing but as long as she remains confident it will be okay.

  2. I think a little bit of both, whacking the teacher and encouraging little L to speak up a little more. Within reason of course. She sounds wonderful, sweet and kind and that will get her a long way but yes there are times when sharp elbows are needed…

  3. both?
    I would definitely talk to the teacher, I had a problem like that at nursery and passed on my concerns to the teacher. I would also explain to little L what’s happening and how her behaviour is fab and maybe think about how she could make herself seen a bit more without being pushy. Not an easy one though. Question is, does success take some degrees of elbows if we like it or not?

  4. Big M says

    I do not think we should teach her how to use her elbows. That will just result in an arms-race. This world is already over crowded with people using their elbows.

    I think we should talk to the teachers and if they do not change we are out of there! And we will keep it that way be it nursery, school or work.

  5. I would definitely mention it to the teacher – with so many children making such a fuss she may not have been aware of little L being so polite. Poor little L, bless her.

  6. simone says

    I love that your husband comments on your blog 🙂

    I agree with the above commenters who have answered “both”.

    If it happens repeatedly and you feel she is being ignored, I would speak to the teacher. I would also chat with Little M about what she could say if she is the only one who ends up without a hulahoop.

    I think there is a difference between confidence and assertiveness. I felt sure that my daughter (now 9) was quite confident when she started school at age 5….it was only when I saw the other girls (some of them total madams to this day, ugh!) ….that I realised in some situations, her confidence would count for very little since she was just being steamrollered by other children and just not heard. A teacher should really notice this – and with my daughter they always did….clearly, it’s not always the case though.

    It’s tricky though…and hard to see at times.

  7. I think it is being an only child – you don’t have to fight for the last cookie etc. it is just given to you. Give her a few siblings and you’ll see how she manages to become pushy, wheedling etc. Having siblings creates a more pushy nature. I’m an only child and was in some ways spoilt so have never been terribly gung ho about achieving what I want!

  8. Been there a few times with my brood. I would not change the way you’re raising L but boy would I have “the speaks” with that teacher. First off why were there not enough for all the children and why did you not stick to the good manners theme. Never mind I’m swimming over!

  9. Tough one. I’d have a quiet word with the teacher. And I’d praise your child for her excellent manners and explain to her that sometimes we don’t get what we want. But to keep on trying

  10. I think that you need to speak to the teacher and also maybe it is time to have a chat about asertiveness. I think it is great that she always says please etc, but I find that the teachers sometimes just forget about the easy children. Maxi is the same too

  11. Firstly the school needs hula hoops for all the children so that no-one is left out! And definitely speak to the teacher and explain exactly what you saw happen. Poor little L, I can imagine how heart-broken you felt. I would’ve found it difficult to stay in my seat!

  12. Ouch – I feel all of your pain there – has happened to my children a few times. I agree with others that you should have a chat with her about speaking up for herself – in a polite way, and I think the teacher should be given detention quite frankly.

  13. Go Big M! Love that he comments. It’s a fine balance; she will get there. And besides, elbows don’t always work…. Lou xx

  14. That story about made me cry, because your daughter sounds so much like my eldest. It’s good, though, that she stands up for herself, because we really had to work on that with my daughter. I think I’d have to talk with the teacher and see how she’s going to rectify the situation. Why should the pushy, overindulged always be rewarded? Ugh.

  15. If it’s any consolation, my daughter was just like this and very submissive with her friends too. At almost 18 though, she is very self assured (not cocky) and boy can she stand up for herself when she wants to.
    I didn’t fight many fights for her but we talked about a lot of stuff. She has a strong sense of what’s right and wrong and doesn’t take much shit from anyone.

  16. My heart was breaking for Little L as I read this. It is an unfairness in life that pushiness and rudeness often wins but it sounds like your little one knows better and if you heap lots of praise on her for being polite when no-one else is and tell her how special she is because she is the only one that behaved in the right way she will be pleased to have made Mum proud. And yes, do speak to the teacher. If she is going to ask the children to say please she should follow through!

  17. Absolutely agree with the comment that the school should have enough hula hoops for everyone. Hello!

    My son is a bit like that, he’s a confident boy but in certain social/group situations he’s a bit reserved and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. I do teach him that a bit of elbows are needed in certain instances in life (at the end of the day, I’m the same way though).

    I would also have a word with the teacher about fair treatment and following up on her own example!

  18. I also think the school is responsible for little L’s disappointment. Its one thing when kids are interaction with each other and the situation becomes unfair, but it’s a whole other thing when the teacher essentially set her up for disappointment. The adults are supposed to make things calm not initiate tension and disappointment. God knows growing up alone has enough of that.

  19. I think the world needs more people like your daughter. There are always going to be the pushy, precocious kids. But I think teachers and schools should recognize this and be ready to reward everyone, not just the ones with the loudest voices.

  20. I tend to agree with Big M to be honest- I’m not one of lifes elbow people and okay I might not always get on the first tube but I’m happier than if I did feel I had to push other people out of the way.

    I’m surprised the nursery let them behave like that.

    That said there are times in life when you have to be able to push, in real problems so it’s good to be able to and decide not to.

  21. Amandeep says

    Firstly, good on you for noticing this in the first place. Alot of times, things like this go unnoticed and that, in itself, is worrying.

    I would say sit Little L down and explain that if you really want something it’s OK to go for it, sometimes it’s OK to go for it with all guns blazing! It’s good to be passionate about something and maybe just needs to hear that. Alternatively, maybe team buildng exercises would be good. Like playing team sports/games so she builds up her confidence around others.

    The teacher should have stepped in.

    TV shows could help too. I used to work in kids TV on shows that teach kids life lessons, such as ‘if at first you don’t succeed try and try again’. A lot of shows like 3rd and Bird (I worked on that), Dora the Explorer ( I wish I’d worked on that) and Fifi and the Flowertots (again, I wish I’d worked on that) do the same. There’s a new show coming out soon called ‘Small Potatoes’ (Created by the same company that produced 3rd and Bird, but I didn’t work on Small Potatoes). It teaches kids to be individual by expressing themselves through music. It might help…. It might help 🙂

    Let me know how it goes

  22. awwwwwwwwwwwww. the wee soul. I used to worry about that with my eldest, who is only 4 1/2 now. She seems to assert herself more now, mabye she has learned that from pre-school?? I think at the end of the day that is a really good trait. Hopefully in adulthood, that will be admired. Its only in the dog eat dog world of wild children it might be a little rough!

  23. I was so worried about this, I wrote an entire feature article on the subject, titled Do Nice Kids Finish Last? You’ll be glad to hear that the experts all agree that the game of life is a marathon, not a sprint, and that the ‘nice’ ones tend to come out on top overall. Oh, but it breaks your heart sometimes, doesn’t it?

  24. Argh! That’s really frustrating! I had the same experience with my daughter when she was small. As she got older I noticed the teachers got better at rewarding the non-pushy kids and it doesn’t seem to be an issue now. Keep doing your amazing mummy stuff and keep her confidence up. x

  25. Oh I SO know what you mean. I have a pushy daughter and a non-pushy son and my son often doesn’t get what he so patiently queues/asks for politely. He’s confident as well, just doesn’t barge over other kids. I’m afraid I haven’t quite found the answer yet.

  26. That was such a cute, but sad little image. I hope she’s ok. I have no advice (and no kids, so maybe that’s why) but just wanted to say how much I loved this entry. I found your blog via the comment you posted on Allison’s Pink Fibro blogoversary competition. Best of luck with the competition and your beautiful blog!

  27. the little sister says

    definitely whack the teacher !!


    Hugs and kisses to little L!!

  28. I have just read all the comments here, and of them all, I like Big M’s the best (I had to say that, didn’t I?), closely followed by Mama B’s. This wasn’t an incident where kids were fighting. It was set up by the teacher.

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