Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just Ask!

We attended a birthday party for a 2 year old last night. It was fun--although the bugs! Major downside of the drought recovery.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a very minor issue I encountered while we were there. One of the party activities for the children was to decorate their cake plates with stickers. Ryan was one of the oldest kids there--most of the kids were toddlers, so this project was great fun for them. But Ryan took this activity Very Seriously (to my amazement), and approached me almost in tears, because the Birthday Boy had grabbed his plate away from him.

I went over to the Birthday Boy and said, "Oh, this plate is Ryan's." And then I tried to take it out of his hands. Now why did I do this? Because in my head, I was still viewing this child as "too young to understand and/or be reasoned with."

Well of course he didn't let go, because what do toddlers do when someone tries to remove something from their sticky little fingers? They hold on tighter. Duh. I have had two 2 year olds myself!

I came to my senses before allowing this pointless tug-of-war to go on, and let go of the plate. Then I looked at the Birthday Boy and said, "This plate is Ryan's. Will you give it back to him please?"

And you know what he did? He gave it back to Ryan. All I had to do is ask.

I'm still kind of shocked at my own behavior, honestly. What was I thinking? Why would grabbing the plate out of his hand be the right thing to do? Now it might have come to that, had he refused to relinquish the plate, sure. But that shouldn't be the out-of-the-gate approach, should it? And really, I completely missed an opportunity to help Ryan ask the Birthday Boy for the plate back himself.

Moral of the Story: First, give kids a chance to succeed. You might just be surprised. :o)


Amy said...

A room full of 2 year olds could befuddle anyone's mind. :)

I like to hear about your mistakes, too. I tend to beat up on myself for any small mistake, but that is utterly ridiculous. What influences the children is repeated, habitual behavior. And every mistake is an opportunity to show your children how to say, "I'm sorry, I made a mistake. This is how I'll make amends or fix the problem..."

The only mistakes that seem very serious to me, and hard to make up for, are 1) physical violence (grabbing a plate doesn't count), 2)vicious name-calling, and 3) dishonesty.

Rational Jenn said...

Yes, I tend to be a self-beater when it comes to mistakes, but I'm learning to just let stuff go. Must be old age or something.

I make ALL KINDS of mistakes every day, and while I'm trying hard to improve, at the very least my kids see me acknowledge my mistakes and make a plan to do better.

And this certainly wasn't tragic--kind of comic, actually! And I learned something from it. Like that it's hard to remember just how much a 2 year old understands. I am re-learning every day just how much 1 year olds understand, so you'd think I'd have been a bit more on the ball with that idea! :o)