Child Development: Teaching Them to Share and Become More Empathetic

I’ve been writing a lot lately about the power of Jennifer Kolari’s parenting work. She has taught me a lot about how to connect with my kids and work through major issues such as sibling rivalry, anxiety and behavioral issues. Last Saturday, a long-standing source of problems with the kids sharing was resolved, and along with it, both my husband Rob and I breathed a major sigh of relief!

My daughter Lauren has owns the complete Warrior series of books, including special editions. Both her and her brother have read the series. Rob orchestrated Sam contributing a book to the series, with the deal that he would then get to borrow the other 12 when he wanted. As the collection grew, the deal became more and more one-sided.

However, Sam shares other things like his K’Nex with Lauren so Rob and I could clearly see how it works out overall. We were not successful in getting Lauren to see the big picture though. Those books have caused lots of tension and irritation for Rob, myself and the kids.

Saturday night was a case in point. Sam finished book three, and wanted book four. She said he couldn’t have it until the next morning. Rob and I felt massively irritated with what seemed like an arbitrary, controlling decision on her part. We tried to push her into sharing that night, without coming right out and forcing her to share. She was adamant that she wasn’t giving him the book until the next day, even though she gave no logic for why he had to wait.

Finally I quit trying to convince her long enough to try to understand where she was coming from. Stephen Covey knew what he was talking about when he said “Seek first to understand.” I said to her that I knew that she had spent a lot of money and time on acquiring the 12 plus books in the collection. I also shared that I know that she takes great care of her books, whereas her brother is much more cavalier.

That was all I had to say before she switched gears. I was just warming up to seeing it from her point of view and she was on to the solution! I suspect that she’s been eyeing up the boxed sets, which weren’t available when she bought the books. So she decided that she would buy the boxed sets, and then keep the first books for her and Sam to read. That way if a book was nicked, as had happened to book three, possibly while Sam was reading it, she’d know she had the pristine copy of the same book.

It was remarkably easy to then get her to share the book with him that night. Earlier when she wasn’t feeling understood, she blocked every attempt I made to get her to see how irritating it would be to him to be made to wait until the next day. Now she heard me. She could see how he would feel and she offered to bring him the book right away!

I made a mental note to suggest to Sam that he buy her one of the boxed sets for her birthday in a few months. I love to facilitate each of them buying the other thoughtful gifts, and often they think of it themselves.

What a relief! Not only did Lauren do what I thought was right, but she felt good about it. Although sometimes it would be nice to be able to just make the kids do what I want, I know that leads to resentment and rebellion. Instead, through applying Kolari’s ideas, Lauren felt more connected to me, and did what I wanted her to do!

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