snatching to sharing

Snatching to Sharing

August 9, 2011, 0 Comments

This marks the first of our many topics on “Sibling Rivalry”. Well actually, I rather “Keep the Sibling, lose the Rivalry”, to borrow these words from Ps Tedd Tripp.

With late marriages, comes late pregnancies and couples who give birth to siblings who are altogether too close in their age gap. Great play-mates but also lots of competition. If the natural flow of things are often good, we need not interfere with nature. But they seldom are.

We often wonder why young kids or rather we, as parents can’t get them to function pass the level of ‘me-first’ mentality. Is it alright for 2 yr-old to snatch and claw or shout to get what he wants and NOT ok for a 4 yr old to do that?

Let me try to phrase it this way, “Is it ok for a CEO to storm out of a meeting in anger and NOT ok for a twenty-one year old to do that?”

Well, courtesy is not limited to how old a person is and what position a person might hold, so why do we often excuse those in power or the younger sibling? The Bible require that of us all. The Bible says that “Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” Proverbs 20:11.

Ps Tedd Tripp in his book , Shepherding a Child’s Heart devotes just a small section to explaining the heart of sibling rivalry.

Tedd Tripp says, “The classic response is “Who had it first?” This response misses heart issues. “Who had it first” is an issue of justice. Justice operates in favour of the child who was quicker draw in getting the toy.”

“Both children are displaying a hardness of heart toward the other. both are selfish. Both children are saying ” I don’t care about you or your happiness. I am only concerned about myself. I want this toy. My happiness depends on possessing it. I will have it and be happy regardless of what that means to you.”

“Two children are breaking God’s law. One is taking the toy that the other has. The other is keeping the advantage. The circumstances aredifferent , but the heart issue is the same – “I want my happiness, even at your expense.”

I absolutely love the fact that we are not training behaviours. Because the right behaviour can look all neat and pretty and can very well be a snare to how we think others would think of our children, which is not the point! We don’t train up our kids to impress. We can be producing little pharisees who are clean on the outside and dirty on the inside. For the glory of men and not unto the Lord.

Honestly, when kids fight, it can be dishevelling. It is like a mini crisis that can catch us unaware! But good news is, after handling a few, we usually know how to spot one before it happens! Stay close to kids when they play & observe. Come to think of it, parenting IS 70% observing and 25% training, 5% disciplining. Whew! That means we get to keep our job as a parent!

Let me digress, if we catch ourselves correcting/disciplining our children 50% of the time, that probably means we have either not train or observethem enough, or that they are in a completely new environment where they know there are NO boundaries. Simple formula. Really achievable. Don’t believe, watch them in their grannies place. hahah… :) (Sorry, I am generalizing of course!)

Anyways, we have kinda settled into a routine of ‘settling fights’ after many many rounds of it since er… few months back. This is what we do.

Fight breaks out.

Child A : May I have it (lollipop/ball/car) please?

Child B : Ok you may have it, but pass it to me when you are done, OR let me play first and I’ll let you have it when I am done, OR we can play together, OR there is another toy you can play etc.

Child A (could say): Ok (sits and wait patiently) OR No, I don’t want to wait OR why don’t we play together?

I intervene and either give suggestion to love and share, or be patient and wait. I also point out heart attitude based on what they say. “I don’t want to wait” simply means impatience, so if he don’t wait, he would be at the mercy of another child. The other child can decide to be compassionate and pass the toy to him or insist. And the other child has to learn to be patient anyway.

What one child decides would impact how the other child feels. This is a life principle. For our decision is not only ourselves but it matters to the others around us as well. I point out that his actions/decision would cause others to feel sad or hurt.

If both parties are unwilling to settle on either options, they had to go on to discuss UNTIL they arrive at a consensus. I go between them to clarify their thoughts to each other.

It is difficult to get both child to exercise a best heart attitude at any brawl, so I don’t strive to do that. I try to lead the child to understand each situation and do better than the last.

What I also try to do, I try to input as much Godly attitude as I can at any given opportunity throughout the day, a little here and a little there. I do, however take note of a regular display of a hardness of a heart and point it out to the child and uses devotional time to discuss it, praying with the child, worshiping God etc.

Of course, brawls would still happen in the middle of a discussion. In a worse case scenario where tempers flares, theirs or ours, I would choose to remove the toy and remove everyone from the scene. Everyone had to sit down and calm down first.

If no one is able to reach a consensus once we re-group. I’m afraid play time is over and toy is removed. We choose to let natural consequence take place. Any child who throws a tantrum and is unable to discuss is taken away to calm down as well.

However, this is NOT the end of it. Discipline without the formation of the heart is the least effective tool of correction. At a later part of the day, we sit down and discuss the situation. For our 4 yr old, we use a devotional resource entitled “Gotto have God:Fun Devotions for boys”This book categorise by character, so we only need to look up, for example “Patience” and find something to teach, a story to tell and an activity. Only drawback is that I still had to do some research from the Bible to seal in what the child needs to learn. Also not all activities are directly link to the character traits so I do need other materials to complement. Overall, however, it provides me a quick search and a story within that my 4 yr old enjoys learning from.

Our 2 yr old simply had an early start (because he was born with a sibling and most 2 yr old don’t snatch. ) that snatching is not right and does not please God. Through consistent training, even a 2 yr old can be taught to be courteous and to ask “May I have the toy… and to reply, “I will pass it to you when I am done OR there you go, you can play first.”
Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air to see such gracious children?

Often it is the lack of love & patience that causes the brawl. We teach that it is Biblical that “Patience or love is slow to anger & patience is waiting” There are many ways to teach toddlers and the devotional is only one way.

Much is it for them to learn, it is far more important for us to learn to be patient from our Creator. Why, we too are imperfect people reaching out to little imperfect beings. P.a.t.i.e.n.c.e.

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