For several months, maybe close to year now, I have been working on how to wait when someone else has something my son wants. It all started with hoping to teach my son how to share and play with other kids without my son hitting. Someone would have something he wanted or other way around. So, I have learned to stay close to help him during these times and hold the limit. Sometimes it turns into staylistening, sometimes it doesn’t.
Here is one example of how it often goes. One day, the neighbor girl was over playing. Eventually, she had something my son wanted. I was ready for this and right there playing too. As he grabbed it, I put my hand on the toy as I often do and told him, “She has this right now and I am not sure when she’ll be finished.” He got upset saying it was his toy and she had a long turn. I repeated my words, in a calm, loving tone and making eye contact. I added that I would help him wait; all the while keeping my hands on the toy so it couldn’t be played with by anyone. I have also learned to assure the other child I would help my son let it go, we just need a few minutes, and most times the other child relaxes a bit. I repeated the limit. He struggled a bit. I kept reassuring him that I would help him wait, even encouraging him to look around and see if there was something else we could do while we wait. He let go of the toy and moved on until she was finished. I have held the limit like this in numerous places over countless things.
The other day, while on a field trip with my son’s class, I observed the most beautiful thing. Each adult had 2 children. I had my son and a girl in his class. It was lunch time, and while I had my son’s and my lunch, the lunches for the 60 children, ages from 3 to 5, were late. They had to wait for over 30 minutes. We shared what we had with the girl, but she was having feelings about something and didn’t want any food.
Then my son did the most beautiful thing, all on his own. He put his sandwich and food away, folded his hands, and sat beside this girl, bending over to look into her eyes and said, “I’ll help you wait. Can you think of anything else to do while you wait.” And then he waited with her.
Hand in Hand works, it really does.
– Paula Arnold, a mom in San Jose, CA and Hand in Hand Certification Candidate