I found a file I wrote a few years ago, when David and Bethel were almost exactly Bethel and Laurel’s ages now (David was 2 1/2 years, and Bethel was 1 year). I found it helpful to read, since it seems I’ve got the same challenges! Here it is exactly as I wrote it.
Scenario: David is playing with a puzzle and cries out: “Mommy, get your daughter!” when she starts grabbing his pieces.
- I usually tell him that Bethel is not being unkind but wants to play with him (I don’t want him to think that all injustices are malicious). Then I tell him, “Why don’t you find a puzzle for Bethel to play with beside you?” He goes to get the puzzle, and then if Bethel continues to take his pieces, I’ll intervene (usually take her away)
- If David gets another toy for Bethel without prompting, I will usually praise him for being a peacemaker.
Sometimes, there is no equivalent that will make Bethel happy, like the little toy piano we have. This morning, David started playing with the piano. Bethel dropped her toy and tried to push David aside so she could play. It’s really too small for both to play right now (different than the big piano, which they can play together). So I told david, “Tell Bethel she can play with it when you are done.” He dutifully repeated my phrase. (I know that Bethel doesn’t understand or care, but my instruction was more for David than Bethel. I want him to know how to handle himself when someone tries to take a toy away)
- I also have a mechanical timer that David can set. I may suggest in future sharing situations that he set the timer for a few minutes.
- Here is what I say to David about trading: If you offer a toy to little sister and she takes it, she is telling you she wants to trade [usually!]. If she does not take the toy, she doesn’t want to trade.
Scenario: David is angry because I would not let him play with a toy Bethel is playing with.
- I explain that he can choose to think unhappy thoughts or he can choose to think happy thoughts. Then I ask, “What happy thoughts can we think of?” Usually we think about airplanes, or singing silly songs. Sometimes I will suggest that he go to his room and turn on some happy music.
Scenario: Bethel grabs David’s spoon at the table.
- Ask, “Why did Bethel want your spoon? What can you do when she takes your spoon?” (Get her a new one,
Scenario: Child is frustrated because he cannot fit puzzle piece in puzzle.
- Teach strategies: “What should you do when a puzzle piece doesn’t fit?” (We’ve already talked about what we should do) First strategy is to turn the piece around. Second strategy is to put the piece down and try another piece. (Other frustrations: getting stuck in a shirt,
- Bethel gets frustrated because she can’t pull a toy out of the toy box. I tell her, “Say help me! Help me” Then I immediately help her.
- Other strategy for whining infant is to say, “Use words. Mommy cannot understand you when you are whining or crying.”) For Bethel, just stopping whining and making some non-whiny vocalization is sufficient.
Scenario: Jake (Three year old friend) wants to wrestle with David, but David doesn’t always like it.
- Teach Jake to ask before he tackles: “Do you want to wrestle?” Teach David how to say when he has had enough, “Please stop.” (In our house, “please stop” is sacred. Any time one of the kids says it to mommy or daddy [like tickling], we stop right away. We want to teach them to honor that request with each other.
Scenario: If Lily (age 1 month) is crying and Chase (19 months) wants to be held,
- Mom says, “Why not help Lily to be happy. Can you find a toy? Can you make Lily laugh? Can you make a silly face for Lilly?”