Little Sir is 4. He has been 4 for 4 months now and we have noticed some huge differences.
- His imagination has improved dramatically. He spends a lot of time in his imaginary world, everything from dinosaurs to pirates.
- His vocabulary has improved beyond all recognition. He didn’t start speaking properly until he was two and a half, so he had some catching up to do, but it’s improved in leaps and bounds. He particularly enjoys telling Little Miss that she’s ‘banished’ from the car!
- He’s beginning to understand the concept of best friends – which is causing it’s own problems.
But the biggest issue we have at the moment is that he is struggling to share. He struggles to share his own toys when he has a playdate, but I guess that’s quite a normal thing. The bigger issue is that he is struggling to share his space when we are out and about.
Over the past few months, I have had to intervene several times when he has told children (normally smaller than him) that ‘This tractor is only for boys!’ or ‘You have to be in the army to come up here!’. He can be quite hostile to other children (apart from his friends) and this can sometimes take the form of words, but more worryingly can sometimes take the form of actions. He has been known to kick an older child because she was talking to his cousin, or to hit a smaller child on the head because they had his stick (seriously don’t get me started on his need for sticks!)
I have been really worried by the whole thing. Am I raising a bully or is this normal for a 4 year old? Should I intervene or should I let them figure it out themselves? Why is he only like this out and about? At home he is such a sensitive little boy who would spend all day cuddling and kissing rather than arguing. What is it about a playground that brings out this side of him?
So I decided that the only thing I could do was to help him learn how to share his space. We have spent a lot of time talking about how to share our toys but it had never occurred to me to think about sharing space. This has meant that, when we go to the playground, I never let him out of my sight.
When we first began this experiment, I made sure that if another child (and particularly if they were smaller) started to climb onto whatever equipment Little Sir was on, I was there to model how to ask them to play, how to talk kindly to them and how to share the space. At first Little Sir really struggled with this. We had lots of tears and upset, but I would just carry him off the equipment, sit with him on a bench and let him cry his frustration out. Then he’d head back off to the playground and we’d begin again.
Several weeks later, we seem to be cracking it! Recently, at a local playground, a small child climbed up onto the tractor Little Sir was pretending to drive. I was ready to leap into action, when to my delight Little Sir smiled at the child, asked if they wanted to play, and moved aside to let them drive the tractor.
Such a brilliant breakthrough and I was absolutely delighted! I’m pretty sure we haven’t got it fully cracked as yet! We will have some ups and downs, but we are definitely making progress, and that’s a good start!
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