Sunday, November 25, 2007

assertiveness training

I’m probably the only Mother on the planet who purposely taught her two-year old to throw a fit. But that’s exactly what I did when the noisy boys were toddlers. I had noticed a disturbing trend at playgroups, mostly with Twin A. He was so easygoing that other kids would grab his toys, push him down, whatever, and he wouldn’t make a peep. While I was grateful for his sweet nature, I didn’t want to set him up to be bullied his entire life.

And so I taught him how to assert himself.

“I’m playing with this right now.”
“I’ll give you a turn in just a minute.”
“Don’t push me.”
“May I please have a turn?”

I was remembering these lessons this past Saturday. With Llama Papa busy on household projects and baby b. up early from his nap, I gathered up the three boys and headed to one of our favorite play spots--the children's museum. One of our favorite areas to play is the air / ball / boat section. The noisy boys can literally spend hours there.

And so they settled in while baby b. toddled around, squealing happily. Twin A. manned the cannon, stuffing fuzzy balls in and shooting them out into the wooden boat while Twin B. built air-ball shooters out of pvc pipe. Everyone was having a great time until Twin A. realized that the kid in the boat, a boy about seven years old, wasn’t throwing the balls back out. He was hoarding them under his jacket on the floor of the boat. At my prodding, Twin A. boldly asked him to throw the balls out. Please.

But the boy didn’t want to throw the balls out.

And so I asked him if we could please have a few of the balls. (There were over fifty fuzzy balls in the boat at this point.) He grudgingly obliged.

“Maybe if you explain the game to the boy, he’ll understand and want to play,” I offered, handing the confiscated balls to A.

“No,” he said. “I don’t think he wants to play. I’ll just move the cannon.”

And so he continued with his happy play. Other kids joined him and they simply shot the balls at other targets, away from the boat.

This was a good reminder to me. Sometimes we need to confront people. And sometimes we just need to move the cannon.

(By the way, for you local Moms reading: this is prime children's museum season. The closer we get to Christmas, the emptier the museum gets. I'm not kidding. The week before Christmas this place is empty! So take a tip from the Llama Momma: shop online and skip the mall. Go to the museum instead!)


elaine@bloginmyeye said...

I think I must be your neighbor. We love the Children's Museum, esp. the air cannons. Good tip about the un-crowdedness. I like to go when it's not a complete germ-fest. I've got an easygoing boy too.

Llama Momma said...

elaine -- it's definitely a germ-fest. But we wash our hands a lot and go anyway. :-)

A Musing Mom said...

"And sometimes we just need to move the cannon."

Those are some wise words, LM. Thanks for the reminder! I think I have a cannon that needs to be moved.

Jenny from Chicago said...

Cool post. We used to live right by the Children's Museum in St. Paul Minnesota. It was so convenient and we could hit it when it was slow too.

L.L. Barkat said...

That's it, right? No real formulas for each and every moment, just some guidelines and the need for discernment. I like these two guidelines... confront or move the cannon. Memorable.

spaghettipie said...

Now that sounds like a good article to me . . . and LL has graciously written your title.

Llama Momma said...

AMM -- Children can teach us so much in this area of conflict resolution.

Jenny -- Convenience is key. The museum is just minutes from our house and we have a membership. It's a beautiful thing!

LL -- Yes. That's it. And one of the beautiful things to me is watching A. begin to show discernment...and he's right on.

SP -- Yes, but most of the magazines I publish in have less readership than this blog and pay in copies. So there you go. ;-)

Christine said...

Sadly, now that my older two are nine and eight, they have found out that there are some people in life with which we ALWAYS "move the cannon."

Yet, when you stop to think that they have figured that out themselves, it makes me feel good about those early lessons.

MamaToo said...

such good advice!
we love the children's museum this time of year, too. The zoo is also wonderful, as many people won't brave the rainy weather. :)

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I love it! Just move the cannon - what a wise child and discerning too, especially for his age - that's a wonderful thing to see already in his character! I think I must have bee 40 already when I realized that moving the cannon was a viable option!

bubandpie said...

Our local children's museum is free on Friday evenings, so I've been going every week that both children are healthy enough - and that is, sadly, not nearly as often as I would like.