Early Childhood Training…if I’d only known
Way too late in life to help my poor children, I was introduced to a problem solving technique for little ones at school. This technique was a very important part of a four-year old’s learning. It was how to resolve conflict without hitting or grabbing or pouting or all the normal reactions when they begin to learn that the world does not revolve around only them.
We babysit the grandkids Saturday night. Five of them at one location while the parents went – what my grandpa would have called – Honky Tonkin. The two youngest are girls age two (Lacee) and three (Mellie). Not a very good age for sharing. They definitely are both the babies of their house and very much accustomed to getting their way. First rattle out of the box, Mellie says as she holds a simple, ordinary, small rubber ball, “This is my favorite toy.”
To which Lacee replies with big pouty lips, “Mellie’s not sharing with me.” So I put my well used tactic into action. In four-year old problem solving the steps work like this:
1. You have three choices.
2. You can ask and say please. If they want to give it up, they can; if not, you can try the next one.
3. You can get another toy and see if they want to trade. If they do you get the toy; if not, you can try the next step.
4. You can wait until they tire of it, then you can have it. This one always happens eventually.
These steps are to be repeated over and over until all are tried. It helps little ones learn what works and that sometimes you just don’t get your way, so you have to be patient. It always works; one way or the other.
Mel has the ball. Lacee wants the ball. I go through the routine. Lacee goes and gets a doll that talks. First noise the doll makes Mel wants to trade the ball, but Lacee has decided that if Mel wants the doll it must be good, and she won’t trade. Mel pouts; I repeat all instructions. Mel gets a small musical tambourine. Lacee is now ready to trade the doll since the tambourine sounds pretty good. Mel now decides that the tambourine must be worth keeping since Lacee is ready to trade. This cycle goes on for over 20 minutes with each new toy getting a new look, but they quit pouting and tattling and just keep finding the most interesting toys they can.
That was the only hint of a problem. In spite of being a little worse for wear from being out until 2 am, it was a pretty easy job. It just doesn’t pay much!
This is a really great website with the choice cards I mentioned above available for printing. I discovered it too late for my own children, but it works on all sorts.