This weekend, I was rewarded when I heard my youngest two kids wanting to play with the same toy (okay, okay, it was the iPad…but it WAS an educational game). Instead of the typical struggle with one pulling the toy out of the other one’s hand, yelling for me to come because “I had it first!”, I heard 8 simple words that I’ve been encouraging on a daily basis. It was music to my ears!
We started it when baby #2, Rowan, came along. Let’s face it: until then, there was no struggle over toys. Once Rowan was old enough to be interested in the same toys as his big brother, Parker, the struggle began. I found that sometimes it was hard to be the judge as to who should have it. Was their turn over? How long do they have before giving it up? Do I just take the toy away from both of them? Ugh. It’s not always cut and dry and just because one person wants it, does that really mean they should get it immediately? Or when do they get it? Ugh. There was no playbook and I wasn’t great at being the referee.
When you’re done, can I have a turn?
8 words changed this. Whenever there was a struggle, we gave the toy back to the kid that originally had it. Then we had the other child practice saying, “When you’re done, can I have a turn?” 8 words. That’s all. In the beginning, they’re just repeating you and you feel like you’re getting nowhere. It will work, I promise! This weekend, Emme, our 3-year old wanted the iPad from her brother and instead of grabbing it (like threenagers often do), she politely said, “Hudson, when you’re done, can I have a turn?” I swear the angels started singing! It worked! I had repeated it enough and had her repeat it enough that she finally did it herself. It was completely unprompted and she had no idea I could hear her. Success!
Now the other end of this is that when we encourage one child to say those 8 magic words, we have to let the other one know that their turn is limited, especially if they’ve had it for awhile. I usually say, “Now, you need to remember that somebody is patiently waiting for a turn.” They know they need to finish up and hand it over. They are definitely welcome to ask if THEY can have a turn next. Sometimes they do, sometimes they move on to something else. But the struggle is over! 8 words, guys. You can do it!