My 3 year old loves preschool and playdates but we worry about him getting run over by other children. Often, friends take the toy he is playing with - and he just lets it happen. I know he isn't ready to stop playing with the toy, but he seems unable to defend himself in these situations. How do we teach him to be kind while also standing up for himself?
First, it is wonderful that you are so observant. Parents want their child to be kind and sharing is a very kind thing. But that doesn't mean your child has to do it every time (especially when a friend takes his toy without his permission). Here is the good news - your child CAN advocate for himself. He just needs the right words and some coaching. Next time the situation arises, try giving your child these words:
"I'm not done playing. When I'm done, you can have a turn."
"I'm not ready to share."
Let your child know that, while it is kind to share a toy, it is not necessary to do it until he is ready. It is not OK for another child to take his toy when he is not ready. Giving him the words to advocate for himself will help him solve the problem (rather than you stepping in to solve it for him).
In a perfect world, this would all work out fine, but some support may be needed to help the situation along. If a child goes to take your child's toy and your child isn't ready to advocate for himself (or he does advocate and the friend doesn't seem to care), you may step in and say, "I see you want to play with the truck, but Justin isn't ready to share it. Justin, are you ready to share? (He's not) When you are done, you can give Libby a turn."
Keep practicing this skill and give support when your child needs it. Advocating for oneself is an awesome skill to have.
Let Them Fly!