I believe three-year olds are clever, but how can my sons adored Air Patroller be divided? You can ‘share’ a cake or a pile of Play-Doh, but something singular will be tricky. We have all been there when one toy is the toy of the moment…and why is it always something that can’t be divided?
When my boy received an Air Patroller for his birthday, he couldn’t put it down. All he wanted was to play with it and when his cousin asked to play with it, he politely said ‘No ta’. This is the point where you must decide how to move forward with this. I had 3 routes. Do I say no you need to give it to your cousin to play with now? Do I say to his cousin ‘actually it is his new toy so maybe find something else to play with’? Or do I make him give it to his cousin after a certain amount of time when he’s finished with is (if he ever will be)! All of these options felt a mixture of right and wrong, why should he HAVE to ‘share’ his precious new Air Patroller?
I decided to explain to his cousin to find something else att his moment. Controversial I know, and luckily my sister in law knows my parenting approaches well and understood. If I was told after a short time tolet my partner use my new computer, right at that time where I was exploring it and trying to take in all its new functions, I wouldn’t want to. I would suggest for him to do something else, like make me a cup of tea!
On this day, my son was allowing everyone to play with all his toys at our house. Everything was out! Not one moan from him. Then, aftera bout ten minutes later, I had a quiet and reflective conversation with my newlythree-year-old. ‘Just remember how you would feel if you wanted to play with J’s new toy and he was saying no. how would you feel’? He replied, ‘cross and sad’. The Air Patroller was still tightly in his grasp and he walked away outof the room. He was not ready to make this conscious decision. I gave it a little while longer and repeated what I said earlier. When you have all your family watching I held my breath thinking how is this going to go? J is waitingthere eager to fly that Air Patroller…
My son then made a reflective decision and solved this issueby suggesting ‘Ok we can swap; I’ll use the Paw Patroller now’. The term ‘swap’quickly became my new best friend!
Sometimes it is OK for your child to not instantly give upwhat they are playing with if someone else wants a turn. This teaches bothchildren that by simply saying they want something is OK and that this is theway we act when we want things. Swapping is a great way to give childrencontrol over their actions, problem solve, understand emotions of others and berecognised as independent people.
Another great strategy is to ask your child to give it totheir friend ‘when they are finished’. This provides the same learning concept as‘swapping’, but sometimes needs a countdown or a sand timer to bring closure asthey can easily never actually be finished with their toy. ‘Two more turnsaround the track on your bike then it’s A’s turn as she is waiting’ is also aneffective way. In larger groups of children, a visual waiting list for thechildren to add their names to offers a visual countdown. It is also a greatway for children to begin to make marks and represent their name
Finding something else for the friend who wants your book isalso an effective way to support our older children with younger siblings andoffers all the above learning opportunities.
Our children are little people with their own big minds. Bigminds know that Air Patrollers can’t be divided into pieces, so the word‘share’ is irrelevant to them, they can’t make sense of it. So, we need to giveour children skills and language to be able to problem solve and learn thatsometimes it’s ok to keep hold of that toy of the moment, sometimes it’s ok to continueplaying with the toy until they have finished with it and then they can pass iton and sometimes it’s all just a bit too much for children to achieve and theyneed our help.
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