We parents want our children to be liked and get along well with other children. I certainly did when my first child, Danae, was beginning to play with other kids. I tried to teach her how to interact lovingly, and she did well in most aspects--making friends, not fighting, being considerate and helpful, and even letting me play with the other children. Teaching her to share her toys was the biggest challenge.
To give her more opportunities to learn this, we started inviting other children her age over to play. That small step was the key to helping Danae discover that it's fun to share with others--a lesson I needed to brush up on myself, as it turned out.
One evening Danae had invited a friend, Natalie, to play with her. Natalie was one of her more frequent playmates, and their favorite thing to play with was the brightly illustrated deck of cards from a children's card game called Go Fish. Although the girls were too young to follow all the rules and play the game as intended, they liked looking at the pictures and finding the ones that matched.
That evening, after Natalie left, Danae came to me and said, "Mommy, I'd like to give these to Natalie. They're her favorites." She held up three or four cards from the Go Fish game.
I tried to explain that I didn't want her to give them away because then our set wouldn't be complete, but Danae persisted. "But I really want her to have them!"
Again I tried to explain. "Danae, these cards belong to our Go Fish game. If you give them to Natalie, we won't have them anymore and the set will be missing pieces."
"That's okay, Mommy, because I have the other cards."
I thought perhaps she didn't understand that when she gave something away, it was gone for good, so I tried again to dissuade her. "If you give those to Natalie, you can't go and ask for them back tomorrow. Once you give them to her, they'll be hers."
A look of concern came over Danae's face. For a moment I was happy that she seemed to understand. Then she smiled and said, "Well, that's okay, I want her to have them anyway."
What could I say to that? I sat quietly for a moment and prayed. Then it came to me: I had been trying for so long to teach her to share, and now that she had learned that important lesson, I was trying to stop her. What was I doing? I was just about to make a very stupid mistake! What did it matter that our Go Fish game would be incomplete? It could be replaced, if need be. What mattered was that my daughter was learning the joy of giving, that she was thinking about others instead of herself, that she was trying to make her friend happy. Isn't that what life is all about?
My daughter taught me a lesson that day, and it's one that I still get tested on. I now have three children, and fairly often one of them will come to me with a toy or stuffed animal in their hands and say they want to give it to one of their friends. My first thought is often how I can talk them out of it, but when I stop to think about it, I always come to the same realization: Things are not forever, but children are. The values I instill in my children today will be part of who they are tomorrow.
Taken from Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
I found this article the other day and I think it's something that every parent should read and put into practice. This article not only puts into words how I want to raise my daughter but also gives practical ideas and tips.
Maria Fontaine, originally published in Activated Magazine
One thing that kids do all the time is argue amongst themselves. Often it is more a matter of contradicting what the other has said, almost for the sake of contradiction. Other times they do it to show that they're superior, to show that the other is wrong and to make themselves look better. Children do that all the time, almost constantly.
They need to be shown that trying to put themselves up by putting down others is wrong. Maybe they are right sometimes, maybe their point of view is right—usually they think they are right, if they're arguing—but whether they're right or wrong, they need to learn it's wrong to argue.
Children need to learn to put themselves in other people's shoes. Ask them, "How would you feel if you were to give the wrong answer to a question or make a statement that wasn't right and someone told you, 'That's wrong! How could you be so stupid?' Well, that's how your brother or sister or friends feel when you contradict them or point out their mistakes."
Give your children an example to drive that point home, how it makes people feel, because they need to realize that. Most children, once they understand what effect their words have on others, will try to be more careful about what they say and how they say it. Explain, "If you do this to your friends—try to put yourself up by putting them down—it makes them feel like crawling under the rug. That's the quickest way to lose friends," or, "Think how terrible that makes your sister feel. She's going to feel like never saying anything. And worse than that, it tells her that you don't love her enough to care about her feelings."
We adults need to make sure that we're not guilty of the same offense. We also need to help our children see that not doing this is a part of love—that this is one way in which they can and should show love to their peers and younger children.
Love, instead of tearing people down, lifts them up and makes them feel good, not embarrassed or humiliated. That's what contradicting and arguing does—embarrasses or humiliates. Sometimes the children don't realize this. They realize what it does when they're on the receiving end, but it just doesn't seem to sink in that it makes other people feel just as bad when it happens to them.
If adults have the tendency to immediately contradict or correct one another and to argue—and this is something we've all been guilty of—we can't blame the children when they do it. But we can be more careful to set a good example, and we can teach our children to be more loving and considerate in this way too. It's the difference between having arguing, fighting, bickering, contradicting children and children that really love one another and cooperate and work together in harmony. It makes all the difference in the world!
There are a lot of other aspects of showing love and consideration, of course. It's a big subject! It's also one of the most important things we can teach our children, because children who fail to learn to be loving and considerate in their speech and actions grow up and continue to have the same habit of bickering and contradicting people. If we want our children to be successful in life, what could be more important than teaching them to love?
Teaching Children Consideration – Resources
Scott the Puppy
Guard your tongue
We Can Get Along
The Blind Men and the Elephant