My Seven Year Old Teaches Me How to Influence a Two Year Old

In our large family, my children discovered how to interact with each other, without my  constant intervention. In fact all my children have wonderful people skills  today because they lived in a house with ten other very different personalities who all shared one full bathroom.Just imagine the tact it required to squeeze any sink and mirror time  in the bathroom if you  happened to have five or six older sisters!

The kids learned interpersonal techniques through the old trial and error method.  I did not tolerate fighting or yelling among my children , so each child had to figure out which approach gained co-operation from another sibling. I was proud of their negotiating skills.

For example,  one evening when Matthew was seven and his brother David was two,  Matthew sat on the floor and reached over the edge of the tub to  play with his little brother who was in bubbly, warm water.

Matthew turned to me and asked, “Want to know how to get a two-year old to do what you want him to do?

I smiled in anticipation and nodded.

“Watch this”, Matthew commanded.

He asked David, “David, do you want the orange ball or the blue boat?”

David chose the blue boat.

Hardly taking a breath,  Matthew asked his little brother the very same question but this time he changed the word order of his request, “Dave, do you want the blue boat or the orange ball?”

David dropped the boat and reached for the ball.

Matthew turned around with a proud little smile on his face, looked at me and said, “Two year olds always choose the last thing that you say!”

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