A group of five elementary-age boys was recently playing together with a bunch of metal Minecraft figures and magnetic blocks.
All that I could hear was everyone yelling. Not at each other, per se, but more so that their idea was the idea that everyone had to listen to, creating a situation where no one was listening.
There were five boys fighting to be in charge of, and control, what was happening with the figures and blocks. Tempers began to flare.
Is fighting to be in control of play something that your child struggles with? Have they ever been called “bossy” or do kids avoid playing with your child because they explode if their idea isn’t the only idea? I notice that flexibility and being able to give and take during a play situation is something that most of my kids here are in need of practicing.
There are times when I am coaching kids, that somehow, a magic phrase or idea seems to spring out of my brain and connects with the situation in a way that instantly helps the kids understand a social concept. I don’t know how or why it happens, but I have been grateful for that gift since Peter Pan began.
In this instance, I approached the guys and asked if any of them had been studying fractions or percentages in school (knowing that this age group likely had). I went on to explain that friendship has fractions too. When two people are playing, each of them has half control of the play. When it’s three, one-third. Four, one quarter, etc. The more people that are playing, the more we have to share control.
You can also use percentages. The only time you have full, 100% control is when you are doing something on your own. The above coaching situation took place weeks ago. In yesterday’s group, there were three boys playing a made-up Minecraft game together outside. Two of the boys decided to go off and do something else, and the third boy who wasn’t interested in the change of plan, said, that’s okay, I’ll just play 100% Minecraft for a while until they come back. And, when a kiddo retains a concept and can use it weeks later in a different situation, is what social coaching is all about.