A Playful Response to Helping Children Share

I want it!!!

How long can we simply BE with our children, lighting the way to reconnection, without rushing to solve “the problem”?

My daughter and her friend were playing well one day until they both wanted the same blue scarf. They came to me for help, their voices raised, as they both desired to be heard. I crouched down and said, “Ok, one at a time.” I asked my daughter to wait while we heard what her friend had to say and assured her I would listen to her next.

“She ALWAYS wants the blue scarf!” her friend said. “I want it this time!”

When her friend was finished, I turned to my daughter. “What do you have to say?”

“No I don't! I used to use the pink one. I tried to be fair and let her pick one from behind my back, but SHE kept peeking!”

“Oh,” I say. “It sounds like fairness is important to both of you.” The girls nod in agreement as they each tighten their grip on their end of the scarf.

My mind is blank, so I am (thankfully) forced to just stay present and supportive to both of them. Helping children share takes patience. The three of us look at each other and I wonder how this scarf issue will shift.

Then my daughter's friend starts pulling on the blue scarf and my daughter starts tugging back. I smile and say, “Wonderful, you've figured it out, Tug-o-war! Now you BOTH have the blue scarf.”

They look at me with a look I would describe as “playful mischievousness”. The girls tug back and forth. There's no meanness to it, but I stay close and engaged with them by putting my hand in the middle of the scarf and gently tugging along with them. “Yeah!” I say. “Now we can ALL have the blue scarf!”

The tug-o-war with the scarf continues around the living room until I playfully say I should tie them together with it. They love this idea. I tie them together around the waist. They work to move around and end up falling a bit. They get back up, trying to figure out how to move while tied together. Once they get the hang of it they decide to be a 2-headed, 4-legged dragon and go off to find treasure together.

And I think to myself, in working through this conflict they already found the real treasure of connection and friendship.

~ Michelle Pate, Parenting by Connection Instructor and Consultant. You can connect with Michelle in her next Building Emotional Understanding class or find her on Facebook.

P.S. On a recent playdate, with the same friend, my daughter came to me with the scarf and said, “Mom! We are NOT getting along. You need to tie us together!”
I did, and the mood immediately shifted from disagreement to cooperation. 🙂

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