Coach vs. Referee

It’s Summer, and you stay at home Moms know what that means. It means unstructured free time, too much unstructured free time. I don’t know about you, but my boys get stir crazy when they aren’t busy, and that is when the bickering begins. It usually starts over a book or toy that one person picks up. And for some reason someone else thinks they should have that book or toy, too. Grabbing and yelling ensue, until I swoop in and take control.

Honestly, I try to let the boys work things out on their own, mostly because I don’t want to spend my whole day trying to negotiate sharing deals, they are old enough to handle that on their own. But it seems lately my boys are quickly moving from the ‘we have to work this out’ stage, to ‘everyone screaming and crying to get their way’ stage. So, what ends up happening is I end up refereeing. And I don’t want to be a referee. I have taken pain staking efforts to teach my boys how to politely and with confidence negotiate with peers using appropriate dialog. At young ages I instilled in all of them that sharing is a part of life, and as a family and as friends we want to share. More often than not, I have to pull on my stripes, grab my whistle and start sending short people and toys to time out. I don’t like being a referee! It is exhausting, and I always end up being the bad guy, even though I was the one trying to help resolve the issue. What I would much rather do is coach in these situations. I’d rather be shouting encouragement from the sidelines as two kids try and work a scenario that makes everyone happy. Coaching has a much more appealing feeling. I always approach these situations with the intent of just coaching, but trying to calm irrational and emotionally charged short people, who don’t want to listen…well, you can see that coaching isn’t necessarily going to work out.

My hope for surviving the Summer, is to help my boys find the joy in sharing, again. I want to remind them how it feels to be shared with, and to be the sharer. It’s a two way street and we all experience both sides. I believe children can be incredibly empathetic at times, and this can be one of those times. Hopefully, I can bring my boys back to the days of joyful sharing and peaceful playtimes, so that I can retire my stripes and whistle. I truly prefer to be on the sidelines cheering them on as they find successes in peer relationships. Otherwise you are going to hear me screaming “what the pickles?”