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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

When Kids Fight

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 8:34 pm | By Stephanie Woo

When Kids Fight

B and M are currently obsessed with Thomas the Train. During our move, we lost all but one red train. You know where this is going. One day, M has it, but B wants it.

I did my usual. I said, “Brooke, ask Mackenzie if you can have it after she is done.” She started repeating after me, but, well, B wanted it NOW. So it escalates into a snatching contest. B grabs it. M takes it back. Then B takes it again. M starts crying. I’m tempted to grab it out of B’s hands and say, “M had it first.” But I try not to forcefully take things out of anyone’s hands because that just invites copycat behavior from the children. 

So I pick up Brooke, put her in my lap and say, “Brooke, you need to sit here with me until you’re ready to give it back.” 

I say to both of them, “Mama doesn’t know what to do. Brooke wants it. Mackenzie wants it. But we only have one train. What should we do?”

M sort of stops crying for a second. They both look at me. B says, “Mama buy another one.” 

“Great idea!” I immediately add it to my mental checklist. Then I say, “Okay, but we only have one right now.  What else can we do?”

They’re both thinking – and quiet. I say, “What if we go make a Thomas out of clay?” 

Apparently that was a brilliant idea. M immediately goes to get the Playdoh. And then I say, “We can also draw a Thomas!” B goes to the chalkboard and starts drawing a round circular thing. My multi-talented friend Candice who was visiting us that evening – bless her heart – draws several Thomas the trains on the chalkboard and keep the kids entertained the rest of the evening.  

I could have played the judge and decided who gets Thomas and who will just have to learn to deal with it. I could have taken it away from both of them. But not only would I have to endure more crying, they’d always look to me to figure things out for them. Instead, I discovered a new principle: when children are thinking, they are not fighting. Instead of figuring it out for them, let them do the problem-solving. 

Reader Comments

  1. Thanks for the whole website, I’ve been reading article after article but hadn’t commented yet.

    The way you handled that fight was so respectfull and just plain great that I had to thank you for sharing it with us; I still don’t have kids but I know for sure that this is the mom I want to be.

    Again, thank you for such a great place, my best wishes to you and your family 🙂

    Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 1:06 pm | Alba

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