Research on the benefits of smiling discovered it has the same effect as eating 2000 chocolate bars. (Now that’s got to be good for you!)
I have worked with children for over twenty-five years, and my dealings with them continue to evolve. Helping children interact with each other in a way that brings satisfaction to all parties is one of my most important and frequented tasks. Although each child arrives with unique and sometimes perplexing attitudes towards their peers, my techniques for teaching them to interact appropriately remain the same.
Sharing is one primary skill that can be extremely challenging in the early years, and we can probably all think of some adult who still has not mastered it! At the Kids Club House we have a language we give the children to help them cope with these sharing issues.
For example, if a child would like what another has, he is to ask, “May I have a turn?” The child with the toy may answer “Yes.” or “I am not done yet; I’ll give it to you when I’m done.” When the child is done playing, we help him find the child waiting for a turn and share the toy while stating, “I’m done now. You can have a turn.” Even after a heated tug of war, most children will happily hand over the requested toy when using the above model.
Recently, however, I added an additional step in my coaching, which has made huge difference in getting a “Yes” response. I tell the child wanting the toy to SMILE at their friend while asking for it. Just adding the smile makes the “yes” rate go up tremendously.
I thought we could apply this ‘happy face attitude’ to our parenting as well. We often approach our children in anger when we have not been able to get them to comply with our initial request(s!). Parents often resort to yelling because they say their children simply won’t listen. I believe yelling is a stress release for the parent and encourages continued non- listening by the child. I wonder if our results would change if we tried requesting with a smile, down at they’re level, face to face.
A physical smile can release stress and staying positive may lead to a quicker reduction of the conflict.