The Yellow Pen: A Tale of Sibling Squabbles :-)

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Hear some kind of discontent in the living room and then Mr 2 (aged 2) crying.

Context: The kids were playing with felt tip pens and paper. Mr 4 (aged 4) is drawing, Mr 2 is taking the lids off the pens and occasionally drawing.

I go into the living room after hearing the crying

Mr 4: “I’m using the yellow pen, but Mr. 2 had it, but he put it on the floor and now I’m using it”

Me: *Pulled Mr 2 close to comfort him*

Me: “Okay, so Mr. 2 is crying because he’s not done with the yellow pen and you have it because he put it on the floor?”

Mr 4: *showed some sign of agreement*

Me: “So the problem is that you both want the yellow pen. What should we do?”

Mr 4: “Share: let’s take turns! I’m going first”

Me: (pause) “Mr 2, Mr 4 wants to go first”

Mr 2: “No”

Me: “That solution doesn’t work for Mr 2, hun. Hmm…What should we do?”

*silence for all of us; it looks like Mr 4 is thinking in the pause*. Mr 2 is paused too, not crying any more but pulled close to me. Literally a second later:

Mr 4: *hands over the yellow pen to his brother*

Me: “Aww, you gave it to him? Jazakillahu khairan, Hooyo, you made him happy”

So that was our solution. Chosen by them. My role? Commentator of what’s going on, without judgment and whilst working to remain calm internally, and then facilitating problem solving for them. Not rushing to solve it for them (which I fall into often as this is new to me). It doesn’t always go down like this at all. And it doesn’t always end as smoothly. And I fail this scenario too: my voice – and unfortunately my words – reek of judgment: ‘Did you hit him?’ Eek). But I am trying to transition more into this way instead of just sorting it for them. So that they think. In the hope that they are empowered with problem solving skills, so they actually have the tools to sort their problems out in general and with others, insha’Allah. In the hope that they look for solutions that work for everybody as much as possible, insha’Allah.

-Learning from ‘Peaceful Parents, Happy Siblings: How To Stop The Fighting and Raise Friends For Life’ by Dr. Laura Markham (currently listening to this in audiobook format on Audible)
©AtHomeWithThePrinces. Jan, 2017

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