Accept the No, Child!
March 13th, 2013
My children are having a hard time accepting the word “no” right now. And while I could write volumes about how this trait applies to their responses to me, today I’m actually talking about their interactions with each other.
Scenario One: When Miss Mouse Wants Something Buggie Has
Although rationally I knew that siblings bickered a lot, as an only child I didn’t fully comprehend what life with multiples is like. They squabble over everything. What color plate they get at dinner, who brushes their teeth first, who pushes the auto-close button on the car, and — of course — who plays with which toy when.
We’ve been stressing to Miss Mouse that she needs to ask her brother if she can play with his toys instead of just absconding with them. Now, we need to teach her to actually listen to (and accept) his response.
Miss Mouse: “Buggie, can I play with your zebra?”
(Thirty seconds later) Miss Mouse: “Buggie, can I play with your zebra now?”
Miss Mouse: “Arrggggg!!!! I want it!!!!” — Takes toy and runs.
Or sometimes, her persistence pays off and, after requesting said toy eighty times in the space of ten minutes, he’ll relent and hand it over. Drives me nuts. I am trying hard to get her to that next step of accepting the answer: you asked, he said no, move on.
I expect she’ll master it in about thirty years, if I’m lucky.
Scenario Two: When Buggie Irritates Miss Mouse
But let us not assume that Miss Mouse is the only one who doesn’t love to hear the word no. Buggie’s not a fan either, especially when big sister is asking him to stop some deeply irritating behavior — like looking at her.
Kudos to her for using her words — she usually at least tries to communicate verbally at first. “Buggie, could you please stop touching me?” Or “No, Buggie, you can’t take my crayons.”
The problem is, he doesn’t even begin to accept this answer. And Miss Mouse is only four so after she makes her preferences known once or twice verbally, she usually moves on to nonverbal communication — like hitting.
In both situations, I desperately want the two of them to learn to moderate their own arguments, but at the moment I just can’t. Leaving them to their own devices inevitably means a brawl. Any fight not guided/interrupted/influenced by an adult descends into a pushing, hitting, crying disaster.
Any parents out there have insights into how to help very young children start to resolve their own disputes??