The other day, while the kids were coloring, my 6 year old Will was complaining because he didn’t have as many different colors as Leah, who is 3. He was also upset because her box of crayons was newer than his (honestly, what WON’T kids fight about?) :)
While I was tempted to say, “maybe you should go get some more colors” or “you can open another new box”, I stopped and considered. Then I said something like this instead:
“Will, rather than thinking it stinks because Leah has more colors than you, you could be glad for Leah that she gets so many different colors to choose from and you can be happy that she gets to have the new box this time around.”
He looked at me rather skeptically, so we talked a little more. We talked about how we are called to consider others better than ourselves and look out for the interests of others and not only for our own gain (Philippians 2:3-4). I shared with him that it is hard to do this and that God wants us to show preference to others, even if things don’t always seem fair.
The situation got me thinking that we shouldn’t shield our kids from disappointment, no matter how tempting it is. In real life, everybody doesn’t always get the blue ribbon or the gold star and only one person wins the race.
I’m certainly not saying that we should demean our children or belittle their efforts, in fact, encouraging them to do their best and helping them find solutions to different situations is a great way to promote critical thinking! But helping our kids deal with disappointment or a seemingly unfair situation in a healthy environment (our home) teaches them to shift the focus from themselves to the other person.
The end result? Hopefully that their heart will be glad when another person wins the top prize or the game and that they can say “good job!”, not grudgingly or because they have to, but because they see that it’s really great when someone else does well!
The end result with Will? He wasn’t really crazy about the whole idea at first, but I could see the wheels turning in his little mind. And it’s good to get our kids thinking :)