Toddler not sharing?
The first step that changes everything.
The other day I was with friends at the library.
It’s a great library with a large children’s section that has lots of toys in individual bags. The children can play with the toys there and also check them out of the library. It’s important to be careful when playing to not get the toys mixed up.
Twin 4-year-old girls were happily playing with a puzzle and there was a little boy of 3 playing with 3 plastic digger trucks. He had them all lined up, knew exactly how he wanted to play with them and was engrossed in his play.
One of the twins went over and took one of his trucks. The boy started crying, turning to his mother for support.
What would you do as a parent if you were there? How would you respond?
Of course, we want our children to learn how to share and take turns. But, it’s the way we respond to this situation that makes all the difference.
I want to share with you the first step that can positively change everything for you and your child.
Language of Listening®, the 3-part parenting framework that I use, teaches that the very first step for getting out of your head into the moment with your child is SAYing WHAT YOU SEE”.
And this is often what we don’t do as parents. All too often we say what we think.
We need to be aware that what we think and what we see are two very different processes.
Stay with me here, if you’re wondering what I’m going on about.
Have you ever seen a child NOT sharing or NOT listening? I bet you think you have.
But you can’t see something that is NOT happening.
The NOT sharing or NOT listening is the thought we have about what we think our child SHOULD be doing.
And it’s our thoughts about ‘should be doing’ that gets us upset and in a reactive mode which makes our kids feel defensive and misunderstood.
We react to what we think is happening rather than the “why” and this leads to power struggles and stress for parent and child. (By the way, parents who take my courses have often commented on this also a pretty good lesson for life situations beyond parenting).
So, let’s get back to the story.
Let’s stay in the moment with the little boy and consider how best to respond to the situation.
You have two ways to react.
Reaction 1: “You have to learn to share. You never share, you’re a big boy and it’s not kind, that other little girl wants to play too, they’re not your toys anyway”
Reaction 2: “You’re lining up the trucks, you know just how you want to play with them. It’s hard to share when you’re playing with the trucks.”
Which reaction do you think would produce a better result and have a long-lasting positive effect?
Reaction 1 is perfectly natural and a common way to react. However, it’s accusatory and may get a quick fix, but it leaves all parties frustrated and exhausted with little to no learning.
Staying in the moment with the little boy, we soon realise, he’s not NOT sharing, but rather he’s busy playing with his trucks. Kids live in the moment. Acknowledging what is really going on for him frees him up to move on and find solutions and begin problem-solving.
Another great bonus of SAYing WHAT YOU SEE© is the little boy begins to see himself as a boy who knows what he wants. He wants to play with the trucks and not a boy who has an inner voice of “I don’t know how to share”.
Can you see how different this all feels?
The mother was so surprised. “Oh my gosh, He’s never done that before. He usually holds on so tight to his toys.”
The magic of SAYing WHAT YOU SEE © gets you on the same side as your child and you begin to see their inner strength.
In this case, the boy did share his toys. And with no prompting from you. He already had it in him. We just didn’t give him a chance when using Reaction 1.
Over the next few days, I invite you to start pausing when interacting with your child and start to SAY WHAT YOU SEE© rather than what you think
So instead of “You never do as I ask.”TRY “You are so busy playing with your Lego.”
Instead of “You’re not listening to me.”TRY “You are focussing on finishing your game.”
Become aware of the difference this makes in your interactions and how your child feels.
What you SEE = What is actually happening
What you THINK = Your sometime pre-judged opinions