I was rushing my kids out the door one night for the saddest of reasons: I needed to get them to the sitter so that I could go to visiting hours at a funeral home. My headstrong son was resisting, and there was no time for resistance. His grandpa insists that reasoning is the way to go with this boy, so I told him calmly that Mumma had to go somewhere and I really needed his help; in fact, that it was somewhere sad and it would help Mumma not be as sad if he would co-operate.
I don’t know what my dad means by reasoning with him, but the only result I got was that my sometimes sweet four-year-old started muttering, over and over, words so unkind that I can’t write them here. My bereaved family members might read this post and be hurt by it. It was that bad. I scolded him, but I didn’t get into it at that moment because, as I mentioned, we needed to go. Once in the car, though, I kept thinking about it and knew I had to reopen the issue or let him grow up to be a bully.
After a few introductory remarks (along the lines of “you need to tell Mumma you are sorry”), I had an inspiration. He seems to have some trouble identifying what “kind” behavior is [or so he claims.] So I said, “If your sister’s dolly was broken and you said, ‘ha ha, your dolly is broken, your dolly is broken’, would that be kind or mean?”
“Mean”, he said without delay.
“What could you do instead?”
“I could give her hugs,” he said.
“Yes,” I said, “Or say, ‘I’m sorry your dolly is broken’ or maybe help her fix it. If Mumma was sad and you knew it and you knew why, would it be kind or mean to say ___________?” I asked, inserting his real remark.
“Mean,” he said, and we went through some better options.
Much to my surprise, he loved this game. We played it all the way to the sitter’s. We played it all the way home. We’ve played it several times since. He likes to give me the name of someone we know, and I make up a scenario. Sometimes it is kind. Sometimes he tells the story and I answer. I don’t have a lot of outstanding mom moments, but I’m extremely thankful I thought of this way to teach.
Now…if your little boy wants to play “Kind or Mean” for the 12,000th time, is it kind or mean to sigh and say…”ok, one more time”? :]