Should I Force My Child to Be More Assertive or Just Let It Go?

Updated on November 06, 2017
S.L. asks from Buffalo, NY
16 answers

My daughter is six years old. Her teacher told the class that they may bring in a toy for free choice time. My daughter brought a doll that came with a toy fox in a pencil case that was labeled with her name. The case and all its contents came up missing. A month later, one of my daughters classmates returned the doll (broken) and the toy fox to my daughter admitting that they were in fact my daughters. She took my daughters toys, kept them for a month, the case is still missing and the doll was broken. I wrote a note to the teacher about it hoping that she would at least make the child who took my daughters things to at least apologize to her. But instead the teacher completely blew it off. I am trying to teach my daughter to stick up for herself and that what her classmate did is not okay. Since the teacher didn't do anything about it, I want my daughter to confront this kid and get an apology. My husband thinks I should just let it go. My sister thinks I should bring it to the principals attention. Please, I need some solid advice. What should I do? Thank you!

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answers from Dallas on

Let it go. I never let my boys take anything to school that I really wanted to make it home in one piece.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Let it go.... pick your battles with the school staff.

Never send anything to school with a child for any reason if you possibly want that item returned to you.

Do NOT underestimate your child's teacher. You'll be royally disappointed if you do. They know way more than you think they do.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Why would you expect a 6 yr old to have the effective skills to "confront" another child in an appropriate manner? Many adults do not have that skill, and I don't know a 6 yr old in the world that does. It would completely inappropriate to even suggest your daughter stand up for herself in this manner.

I guess I see this as a teaching opportunity for your daughter - don't bring things to school that are "important." Schools are not hotels with safes for valuables. At this age, they often have cubbies for their personal items or lockers with no locks on them. Also, as a parent, you need to expect that many 6 year olds are still struggling with boundary issues and some kids would not be emotionally mature enough to understand this would be considered "theft." Clearly the little girl that took it didn't quite understand that as she returned it after it was broken and she probably considered herself done with the toy OR the mom realized it didn't belong to her.

How do you know that the teacher didn't do anything about it? Her methods of handling an incident in the classroom may be far superior to yours, and do not include apologizing to your daughter. Never assume the teacher did nothing.

Let it go and take the obvious lesson of not bringing valuables to school for free time to heart.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Let it go. Your daughter can’t make this girl apologize and seriously why would you even think of involving the principal in this matter. Save your interactions with the principal for something that really matters.

Also, look at this as a lesson learned. I assume any book or games I send to school may not come back or may not come back in the same condition. Don’t stress your daughter out about this and don’t l let her think she is not sticking up for herself.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I tell my kids if they bring a toy to school there is a high chance it will get lost, ruined, broken or disappear. For advice - do you know this child's parents? I would talk to them and ask them if they knew that their daughter stole your child's doll and returned it broken a month later. I would let them discipline their kid. If you do not know them then let it go. I would not expect a 6 year old to confront another let that idea go. I would tell her not to bring toys to school again. I would also advise her she probably shouldn't make friends with or play with the kid who steals and breaks find nicer kids to hang out with.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't quite get what 'free choice time' is.

I would have handled it the day it came home missing - but that's just me. I would have sent a note/email to teacher.

However, this is the part I don't quite follow - was this just for them to play with in spare time .. or part of a class thing? If my kids took toys in for their own amusement, we went over the fact that if they went 'missing' (i.e. kids took them, etc.) then that's a possibility. Be prepared, and mom isn't going to track them down. So they knew that going in. I also wrote in Sharpie their names on things - that way if they did make it to some kid's house, their mom/dad might see that the items actually belonged to some other kid and might make it back to the classroom. Let's face it, kids take stuff.

So - here's something my kid did. Took her little collection of teeny tiny toys to school one day so her buddies could all play at recess. We're talking toys that are almost microscopic. Instead of collecting them back at the end of recess, she says "Sure, you can borrow them". She's six. Well, did we get them back? A few. This was on her, had nothing to do with the teacher, the principal or the school. So I told her she had to ask for them back. So she did. She got some more back. So then there were a few remaining. I said "Do you want them back?" she said yes, so she actually wrote a little note and handed it to her friends - saying to please remember to bring it the next day. She got every last one back.

Did these parents think I was insane? Probably. I don't care. My kid learned a lesson. I could have said no (and probably should have) to not bring your toys to school. I probably was busy that week and just didn't notice. She stood her ground and was kind and polite and got her stuff back.

So - at six, kids can handle this stuff. I think at this point it's kind of done. I kind of agree with your hubby. The only thing I might do is have your daughter just first ask the kid for the case it all came in. If you feel up to it, you could ask the parent - send a note saying "Seems like little so-and-so took our little one's toy home last month, just wondering if you would happen to have the case laying around somewhere as didn't make it back - we'd appreciate it!" (you could make it funny or lighthearted). Is it worth it? I don't know. Chances are if they sent in a broken toy they probably don't have the case, or won't bother looking for it.

I would not involve the teacher myself. They are there to teach.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia.

First off - you can't "TEACH" assertiveness. You can teach her how to stand up for herself. But you can't teach "assertive" behavior.

Second. Your daughter's toy should have been acknowledged as stolen. Because that's what the kid did - stole. And stealing is WRONG.

You've sent a note to the teacher - and nothing was said? Well - then the principal needs to know what is going on in his/her school. Unfortunately, you waited too long to really have any impact. When the toy was first stolen, you should have said something not only to the teacher, but to the principal to stress that THEFT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

You need to call the principal, tell him/her you're sorry you waited so long to bring this up, but tell them that theft is happening at the school.

DO NOT look for an apology, because FORCING an apology is NOT really sorry. I'd tell the parent of the child who took the toy what their child did. I know I'd want to know. But then again - my kids don't come home with other people's toys without telling me. Mine are now in high school - but in elementary school - they would bring other toys home and I would ask where they got it. I would ask - when they were considered expensive - the parent if they were aware their child was loaning out their toys. Yes. They were. Thank you for checking with us. And the same happened to me as my boys would loan their toys to their friends. Luckily, the toys were returned unbroken.

You need to stress to your daughter that if she is going to bring toys to school, she MUST be responsible for them and bring them home. IF they are not returned? She needs to speak up immediately.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Let it go. Forced apologies aren't sincere. I look at it this way. Someone, someplace, whether it was the other girl's parents, the teacher, or the girl's own conscious, prompted her to return your daughter's toy. That is a SIX year old's way of righting the wrong. It was not perfect. The toy wasn't in good condition at all. And she probably was dealing with too much shame and embarrassment and immaturity to verbalize an apology. But this girl is only 6. You're expecting too much. The lesson for your daughter is to not bring anything very special to school.

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answers from Kalamazoo on

Well, your daughter is only 6.....maybe don't put this on her shoulders. This is still a teachable moment though, just not a "forceable" one. The teacher should have handled this. You need to speak with teacher in person. That should've been step one, not a note. Has the teacher talked with the child? or her parents? if so, would you even know? You have to go in and talk to her. Let her know how you feel and that you expect the child to apologize, etc. This is how you teach (not force) you daughter assertiveness. By showing her an example.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I hear you completely! In a perfect world a teacher would handle this the right way or the child would apologize. Unfortunately this rarely happens. Teachers are going to disappoint and kids are going to be mean. So.....I know you would like some justification but I think I would let it go and just be aware for next time. Your daughter knows the other girl did something wrong not her. As long as you keep talking with your daughter and teaching her
right from wrong she will grow up and I believe will be stronger at approaching things. She is still so young to be confrontational. If this particular girl continues to do these sort of things, request (privately) your daughter and her not be put into the same class moving forward. Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Yes take it to the prinicipal this will teach your daughter to stand up for herself . It is not right what the other kid did and shes just a kid, obviously not disciplined by her parents. But the kid is not the issue. It's showing your daughter that she needs to stand up for herself and whats right

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

You probably didn't understand that any toy brought to school is pretty much an I don't care if it gets lost toy. One that isn't special or worth anything. This way when it's missing or broken or taken by another child.

I had a strict rule in my child care business that no items from home were allowed. I had people not come because they wanted their child to bring blankets, toys, cups, etc...from home. It was NOT my job to watch out for a child's personal items. It is the parent's job to keep those items at home.

So the teacher has no part in this. This other child? You can contact the mother directly if you want but they might react and defend their own child instead of making their child do what you want.

Your child isn't going to learn any independence as long as you make her do things the way you want. She needs to develop those independent areas and that means she gets to choose her actions sometimes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

She's too young for what you are talking about.

If you bring this to the principal's attention, all you will do is piss off the teacher. I don't know why the teacher blew it off, IF indeed she did. It could be that she talked to the other child and expected her to talk to your daughter, without standing over her to watch. Or maybe she did decide it wasn't important. That's disappointing, but not worth going to the principal over. I would only do that for something really important.

And what the mom said about never taking anything important to school for something like this is SO true.

I will tell you that until your own daughter breaks something of someone else's, you don't "get" just how young children's minds are and how they don't think things through. You can end up in the same shoes so easily. It's just hard to see that right now...


answers from Springfield on

talk to the teacher, if she is still unwilling to straighten this out then the other child's parent and principal need a call



answers from Washington DC on

My daughter is going to be 8 soon, but I've had the same issues with wondering how strongly I should encourage her to stick up for herself. Luckily she had an amazing teacher last year who took these things seriously, and really cared about the kids and talked to them when things like this happened. I think it's very important to teach them while they're young that they need to defend themselves and when, because it won't be comfortable for them when they're older if they don't start practicing now.

If you're anything like me, I think my daughter got the push over attitude from me and it's been really hard as an adult trying to find the balance between not being a pushover and not being a total crazy pants. It causes stress in relationships with friends and in my marriage. It causes issues at work. It's really hard. I'm in my 30s and dealing with be bullied at work because I'm not assertive enough, and am too scared to be too assertive because I'd rather just not make waves and hope that if I stay quiet people will just decide to start being nice--which isn't working.

So I've been trying to set the example for my daughter now, even though it can be quite uncomfortable for me, because I want her to be better than I am. I tell her how mommy deals with similar situations, and we talk about being strong together even though it's scary, and then discuss the results. I still don't even know the answers though, but I believe if I teach her to be assertive now, she will know what to do as an adult when the time comes for her to need to assert herself.

I would definitely not ignore it though. If the teacher won't do anything then I would go to the principal. You need to show your daughter that it is important to say no, and that what the other little girl did is not acceptable.



answers from Kansas City on

I would first talk with the teacher and get first hand information that she "blew it off". That is surprising, but possible I suppose. Sometimes 6 year olds misinterpret situations. If she is not helpful or responsive then yes, go to the principal.

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