Work It Out, Baby | Day Nine

They both want the same toy. The parents' blood pressure starts to rise. Conflict is on its way.

First -- “But that’s MY car!” Then -- “I want it!”

We could leave them to it...they’ll have a great fight, maybe with some slapping and kicking and yelling and biting and grabbing and throwing {oh yes. we've been there.}. They may or may not eventually work it out, but my guess is that one of the victims will give up and stomp off, saying a few choice words as he or she leaves {or a sour look}.

We could jump right in with questions as to who had the car first, who wants the car and why do they want it, then start throwing commands left and right. “Johnny, you give the car to Sam. He gets a turn now. You can have it back in five minutes. And don’t cry or fuss.”

*cue the sound of helicopter blades whopping*

But my favorite method is to quietly say what I see happening, make sure each child knows how the other is feeling, and offer solutions to restore peace. Because people are more important than toys {another life commandment}.

Children need to be taught how to eventually work out conflict all on their own. They need to be taught healthy conflict resolution. They need to be aware of their feelings and the feelings of others. And the best way to teach all of this is through lots of example dialogue and role-playing.

“I see Ezra grabbed the toy you were playing with. He wants it too. How can we work this out so that all of us are happy? Want to give him five minutes to play with it and then ask for a turn?”

{example dialogue for Peter to say to a frustrated friend}   
“Oh, it sounds like you don’t want to play this game anymore. You must be feeling bored or upset. Can we play firefighters instead? Or do you want to play chase?”

Peter knows that if he is struggling to get along with someone, be it a friend or his brother, he has four tools in his toolbox: {thank you smart husband for this wisdom}
NEW TOY -- find a new toy for yourself or the other person
NEW ACTIVITY -- think of something else to do that you both might enjoy
GROWNUP HELP -- ask a grownup to help with solutions
ALONE TIME -- be alone for awhile

This takes a LOT of repetition. We find ourselves saying it more times than we’d like. But I believe there will be a pay-off. We've seen small promises of success already. ;)

Happy children are children that know how to problem solve and work things out with others.

Click here to read the rest of the posts in the series, 31 Days to Happier Children.