A couple of newsletters ago, I came up with the idea that it might be a good idea to take questions posed to me from Single Parents that visit the BellaOnline site and present them to those subscribed to the newsletter for advice from others who have been in the same situation. I heard no objections, so in the last issue of Single Parents’ Solutions, the first question to be asked of our single parents’ group was presented to us from Caryn.
Caryn has a five-year-old son who plays fine with other children at preschool and at the homes of others, but is “overly protective” of his possession when children come to his home to play. He has gone so far as to throw his toys at other children, snatch them away, and refuse to play. Caryn doesn’t believe in spanking and time-out is a battle for her because she must sit with her son in order to keep him confined. She was open to any suggestions that we might have to offer.
It wasn’t long after I published the newsletter that I received my first piece of advice for Caryn. Perlita, in the Philippines, wrote to say that perhaps it would be a good idea to take away the toy(s) that her son was so possessive of and make sure he knew that it was being taken because he was unwilling to share it with his friends. The stipulation would be that if he could share his other toys when his friends came to play, then he would be able to get the prized toy back. She also suggested that perhaps Caryn could make up a little story to tell her son at bedtime about a little boy that wouldn’t share his toys and hit his friends. The story could talk of the “bad” things that might happen to him because of his behavior and how everything could be made right again if he could only share.
The idea of the story is one that parents have used since…well, forever. Most fairy tales, fables, and quite a few nursery rhymes were developed to teach children lessons. Children love to be entertained, and thus a story will hold their attention. When they recognize the resemblance to themselves in the story, they begin to make a connection to the lesson to be learned. I guess that is why this particular method has worked so well for so long.
I also like the idea of taking away the toy that causes the problem. I have often used this one when my children were much younger. If a particular toy causes a problem, then they don’t need it! When they learn to share and be nice to their friends regardless of location or coveted item, then they can have the toy back. Certainly not in the case of five-year-olds, but once the child is a little bit older, I have also explained the value of possessions versus friendships and who the friendship is much more valuable.
Caryn, I personally always loved time-out, but I have a daughter that never worked with, too, because she just would not stay put unless someone was with her. Perhaps the suggestions that Perlita made will help in your situation. Please, let us know how it works out for you.
Now, we need to name this segment of our Single Parents site. For this first column, I have called it Single Parents Advice, but I know that someone out there can come up with a much catchier title! So please, email me your suggestions! I look forward to hearing from you. Also, continue to check your newsletters for questions from parents and please submit your suggestions to me at SingleParents@BellaOnline.com. By sharing the information that we have collected from our own experiences, we can help each other be the best parents possible!