Monkeying Around with Conflict Resolution

This morning, my 2.5 year old son, Lucas, was playing with his monkey. The monkey has a noisemaker inside, and the battery inside the noisemaker was dying, making an unpleasant noise which Lucas didn’t like.  He tried to make it stop with his hands, but he couldn’t. We couldn’t do much about it because the noise maker was sewn inside the monkey.

After the noise went on for a while, Lucas said, “No thank you, Monkey.” But the noise didn’t stop. “Monkey, I said No Thank You!” he repeated. Then – this is the cutest – he sat down and put the monkey on his lap, facing him. He said, “Let’s talk,” and gently took hold of the monkey’s hands. He said, “So….” And waited a little while, thinking. “So…you wanting making noise, and ummmm…and I, and I…I wanting no making noise. So….so…what we gonna do so…so…. you happy and me happy?” (Oh my goodness it! It was the cutest thing ever!  I called my husband over to witness it with me. It was so cute.)

Then Lucas came over to me with his monkey and said with sincere concern, “Mommy, I talked to the monkey but the monkey didn’t stop.” I said, “Oh, I see…Hmmm… You’re right. The monkey is still making noise. Hmmm…” I thought I could buy some time by encouraging us to talk to the monkey again, hoping that the noise might be over by the time our talk was done. “Well, let’s try talking to the monkey together,” I said.

So we all three sat down together, I held one of monkey’s hands and Lucas held the other. And I said, “So, Lucas doesn’t want to hear the noise anymore, and monkey wants to make noise, so what should we do to make Lucas a little happy and monkey a little happy…” and then I paused. The noise continued – my plan hadn’t worked!

So I said, “What’s that, Monkey?” and pretended that monkey had something very important to tell me. “Oh….I see.” I turned to Lucas, who looked very interested in finding out what monkey had just said, and I told him, “Lucas, monkey is saying I love you Lucas! I love you Lucas!” Lucas looked tickled by that. So I continued. “Monkey wants to know if he can keep saying I love you…and then he’ll stop making noise when he’s done.”

Lucas nodded, took monkey in his arms, hugged him, and carried him across the room to play. The noise continued for a few more minutes, but Lucas didn’t seem to mind. The monkey was saying, “I love you, Lucas!” after all, and they had reached a lovely agreement about it together.

-A Parenting by Connection mother

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