Sharing is Caring -- Real Life Four Year Old Sharing Strategies

I have a four year old and a two year old. Sometimes, they are best friends. Sometimes, they are inseparable. Sometimes, I find them like this:

They are HOLDING HANDS telling each other stories.
And then, five minutes they're like this:

video
This is a VERY mild confrontation by the way.

Usually the conflict is over some random toy that they both want to have. One kid didn't even care about said toy until they saw the other one had it.

I love parenting books. I love parenting blogs. I'll take any help I can get, but I'm finding that many of these books and blogs sure make things sound EASY. Everything sounds so simple.

Sharing and the reactions of anger displayed by my children are a huge issue in our household lately. I am trying desperately to get it through to them (my four year old especially) that reacting with screaming, yelling, hitting, kicking, crying and whining get NO results and only make things worse for them.

My son is two. He's going to take toys. I'm wanting Gwenyth to react calmly and ask for help rather than screaming, yelling, hitting, kicking, crying and whining. I want her to understand it's okay to be frustrated and angry. I want her to know that (sometimes) I agree with her and Reuben was out of line, but the reaction of the frustration and anger needs to be controlled. Not to mention sometimes these reactions lead to full on melt downs! 

So I've been trying some of the things I have read about.

1. When dealing with sharing struggles, take away the toy from both of them. Wait until they calm down, and then ask them to come up with a sharing solution. 
         - More accurate instructions should read: Wrestle toy out of child's hands and hold it up above their heads as they desperately claw at it. Get yourself a pair of ear plugs, set yourself in a comfy chair and grab a magazine, because it will take TEN MINUTES for them to calm down. Then, ask them to come up with a solution. Now, wait TEN MORE MINUTES as they simply say the solution is "I want the toy! I should get the toy! I had it first!" over and over and over again. Ask if they will take a suggestion from you. Suggest setting a timer. After the timer goes off, the other gets the toy. Now wait another FIVE MINUTES as they repeat over and over, "I don't wanna set a timer! I just want the toy!" Finally, set the timer... Inevitably, one child says they don't want the toy anymore or finds something else to do. Every.Time.

2. When dealing with Gwenyth's angry reactions, acknowledge her emotions. Tell her how I can tell she is angry and frustrated by the ways she is moving her body. Tell her I understand her anger and frustration. Simply let her be angry and frustrated. Once she is calm, talk about a better way to handle the situation. Replay the scenario. 
         - Now this one sounds so perfect. I feel it's a really good thing to acknowledge emotions. I want my kids to know it's okay to feel emotion and talk emotively. Then, we replace the behavior. I love the idea of replaying a situation. To actually make them act out the scenario and use the calm reactions. 
       - What no one tells you is that you have to do this twenty times a day everyday and just when you think they understand it... you have to do it twenty more times.

WHEN DO THEY GET IT?
Parenting is effing hard.

What are your household battles right now? I encourage strategy sharing. And if you're a reader who is done with this stage... tell me it gets better!



4 comments:

  1. SAME BOAT!!!

    My nanny babes are 1.5 and 3.5 years old. I have the same battles. Now, my luxury is, is that the kids are my only focus, as it is not my house, so I have all day to play the repeating game with them (and I get paid to do it, but YES, there are days when I am close to tears, as well. Now, compound the problem with the fact that the 3.5 year old has a speech problem, so has tried to "use his words", but it is hard to understand him, so he goes into hitting and pushing out of frustration--which I totally get!

    I have found that staying strong and vigilant on responding to the problem the same way is helping--in many departments, for me. If I am able to see who had the toy first, I will calmly tell the other that they need to wait their turn and need to find another toy. If that does not work, I calmly say that they have two options--1 to do what I just informed them or 2, to leave the room, please. If that still does not work, I then help them leave the room and have some time to calm down. If I am not able to see who had it first, I calmly say they both lost it and remove the toy from the room--they will both throw a fit, but I just respond with, "you know my rules." It is my experience that sticking to a "plan" is best, as they know exactly what the consequences are for every time. Luckily, for me--I'm just as stubborn as a toddler, so I am willing to go head to head. ;)

    Avery, the 1.5 year old is a climber and I repeat, "Avery, please get down from there!", probably 40-50 times a day--no joke. Finally, I realized that she wasn't listening to me, so one week I decided to nip it in the bud no matter how batty I got. Every time she was climbing on something, I said calmly, "Avery, no climbing on there," and I physically removed her and stood her on the floor and walked away--no other communication. When she goes back, I do the same exact thing in the same exact tone. By god, if she hasn't stopped climbing on the fireplace and the back of the couch (which has a huge window behind it)!! I wore her down!! Moral of the story: Stay strong and stick to your guns!! They will grow and learn, I promise!!!

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    1. I completely get the 40-50 times a day; it is no joke. I feel like a broken record! It's just really nice to know I am not the only broken record : )

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  2. ugh, in my experience, it gets better in a sense. five years down the road my two STILL argue about sharing certain things. usually they're toys that are of more importance or special meaning to them, not just anything. or even sharing personal space or their bedrooms, or something like that. what also gets better is the drama degree. they're still dramatic (because children) but the volume and melt down tendencies go way down. i think for me, as the mom, what's so frustrating is that they still argue about such things as sharing. i seriously expected that to disappear into thin air. so save yourself some future frustration and actually stull expect it to happen even 5+ years down the road. you'll save yourself a lot of disappointment. that's something parenting books should tell you more often!
    p.s. i admire how intentional you are with your parenting role. your kids don't know it now, but they've hit the jackpot to have such a caring mom.

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  3. Awe, Sara, you are the sweetest! Thanks for being real, and I will expect it in the future; but I sure do look forward to a little less dramatic affect! I mean, when I think back to me and my brother... MY POOR MOM! How I expect it to get better so fast is just so unrealistic, but the parenting books do make it sound so easy!

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