One of the joys of parenthood is to watch our little man grow. In his knowledge, reasoning and curiosity. The realisation that while the world “appear” to revolve around him, other people have feelings, thoughts and opinions. It is one of our goals to point out different ways we can encourage empathy, sharing and building relationships.
One obvious challenge is that it is developmentally appropriate for a 2 year old to think about himself. After all it feels good- that’s all that matters to him at that age. My argument though is that what is developmental appropriate does not mean we do not expose him to what might shake his world a little. It might be a bigger shake up when he is 6 year old and continue to not show awareness of what is around him. The other thing that is frequently lurking at the back of my head are developmental disorders. Perhaps it is an occupational hazard but I do like setting little experiments to see how he responds to it- to my interest but as a little filling at the back of my head on what could be concerning or not. I think most parents do that, at least I hope that I’m not the only odd one out!
We also believe that it is our responsibility to teach him manners, thoughtfulness, being caring and kind (Asher’s future partner can thank us for that later). It does however, elicit some rather interesting responses.
- On sharing food- Asher has only started to share some with us. Often the most sour of grapes and when he has finished his meal. Still, we considered a win when he did attempt to give us a few pieces of pears on some days. Now, he would even use a small tongs and serve us food (ok, that’s because he likes tongs but hey, we try to reframe it to help him understand it is good to serve food to others when others want it and not when he wants to!)
- Praying for others. We have our nightly prayers. When we pray for his friends, it’s really interesting to see the names he could recall and who he considers as friends and what they do during the day.
- Taking turns. Asher is better at taking turns than sharing. He soon realised that it is quite fun observing another child playing the same item and discovering different ways of playing the same toy.
- Sharing toys- woah! toughie. We are using words such as “It looks like you are not done with it yet, when you are, please pass it to xx. He/she would like to have some fun with this toy too” which most times now, he does! He would hand the toy to us to share to the other child. We find that this method works better than saying “Asher, you have to share now”. I like to think that it is a gradual process where he learned to hand that toy over. Sometimes, I would use “taking turns” as a gentler way rather than for him to give him a toy completely.
- Role plays with soft toys. We give cuddles to soft toys, have tea parties together where Asher has to pour out tea/water and cook meals for us.
- Role modelling- not just showing it to Asher but actually explaining to him why. E.g. we give Asher a dollar coin to put into the offering bag on Sunday. When we drop our offering in the bag, we ask him to do so and explain to him why we are sharing our money.
- Read. We read about manners, about care and we read the children’s bible.
- Asking questions. When a baby cries, we ask Asher what would help baby feel better. Often he would say “baby crying and needs baby’s mamma”. Sometimes though he comes out with some funny responses “baby needs to sleep” or “baby upset”. If hubby and I has a cut on our skin he would stroke it and say “oh no”. Often asking if we need a band aid, a kiss or a ouchie spray.
- Teaching him how to say “I’m sorry”- we are not quite there yet. He refuses to say it! He would, however, shy away, often closing his eyes and pretending he isn’t there. I see that as a good sign that he realises he was in the wrong.
In the kitchen, we bake together. Sometimes we talk about who we bake for and how what he enjoys others would as well. This cookie was one of my little experiments. It wasn’t as “short” as I like to be, but Asher really loves this texture. I find that arrowroot provides that starch that some cookies need but also the butter to give it a really lovely flavour and melt in your food feel. Hope you enjoy having one of these with your tea or coffee.