As parents, we’ve all heard that scream from across the room. Your kid saying it to another kid — another one of your own, another kid in general. Or vice versa. But you’ve heard it. And it’s painful.
How do you teach your kids to share?
On Monday, a funny day in the household overall given the range of emotions and performances displayed by Anaiya and Jaanu, I had a couple of strong parenting moments. The one I wanted to share here was my response to “That’s mine!” flying out of the Play Room like a bat out of hell with its wings on fire.
Anaiya had just wrapped up her class and made her way to the Play Room where Jaanu was playing nicely by himself; but with her toys. She grabbed her transformer back from him.
We were about to hit a meltdown.
I quickly grabbed her hand and asked her to put the toy car in mine. Begrudgingly, she did.
I then called Jaanu over and walked them through in spirit, a message that when you hold on tight to something, you leave little room for other things. So your tightened grip means that thing you’re holding will be held, but it also means you’ll be missing out on so many others.
I then demonstrated. By holding her car in my hand tightly clenched, and then trying hard to pick up other things. I tried to pick up another car. A spoon. A yogurt pouch. I couldn’t pick up anything because my hand was so tightly clenched.
Then, I turned my other hand over. Palm up. Fingers stretched. Car free to go where it wanted. And I started picking up other things. I then had the kids add things to my hand and a mini tower formed.
When you have an open hand, you have given yourself the space and made yourself open to new things.
We went a layer deeper.
Holding on to your thing with a clenched fist isn’t wrong; I just want to make sure you believe it’s so valuable that you are willing to forego what other opportunities may come. And if the whole world operates this way, well, we’ll all pass value between one another without fear of losing or fear of being empty-handed.
The visual resonated. The interactive demonstration resonated.
What I love even more though; is what happened next and what has happened since.
First, Anaiya ran up to me and gave me a hug. She said she finally got it. And she thanked me for always taking the time to tell her stories that help her understand. “You tell the best stories, Buhboo!”
Next, and every day since, when a grab for “mine!” has happened I’ve simply looked at the kids and opened my hands. And in return, they’ve nodded, and proceeded to open their hands, and share. With each other. With friends.
Parenting is hard. I’ve had more failures in conversations, education, coaching, and discipline that I can remember. But those moments where on the spot, an idea comes to life and opens up the way your child sees the world (and the way they grip their toys) is magical.