I got Mingo a big jar of small beads with several different kinds of shapes. He liked to pour all those beads out of the jar all at once. Usually, I would ask him to find beads that have a particular shape. He was interested at first and was able to give me a handful beads of the same shape, and then I would ask him to clean up as there were hundreds of beads on the floor. His attention span was not any longer before it could turn into a mess.
This morning when he saw me, he asked for "beads" or "beans." He just started to talk, and I am not sure what he meant. I asked him if it was something for eating or for play. He said "play." I asked him if he had a chance to play with it today, and he said "no." But I didn't get my head around and didn't know what he meant. He felt a bit frustrated, but I redirected to do something else. When I opened the door of the storage space and put away one of his toys with him, he suddenly got excited and pointed to the jar that contains the "beads." I realized that he really wanted the "beads."
I felt so happy that we were able to figure out what he wanted to play, and I handed the jar to him. He grabbed the jar to his play area and asked me to open it. He turned the jar upside down and got all the beads out on the floor. Instead of engaging him with a particular shape, or insisting him to place them back right away, I told him that "you could play with them as long as you want. You can always ask my help if you need it."
Then I left doing something else at the play area. Mingo played for longer than I thought, and then he came to me and gave a handful of beads to me, all of the same shapes. He said:"stick," the name I told him before for those type of beads. I acknowledge that "yes, they are all sticks." I invited him to place those "sticks" back to the jar. He nodded and put the beads back to the jar. After a while, he grabbed my hand and invited me to help him get all the beads back into the jar. I told him that "we are done today for those beads. You can play it tomorrow." He nodded and grabbed the jar to go with me to place the jar back. He looked at those beads as if he committed something before I closed the door.
The whole process was surprisingly smooth. How important it is to trust the child, and also show that you believe in him by offering help as an option he can choose when he needs it. I read it somewhere that there is a difference between love and spoil. Love is to support your child when they need it. Spoil is to support your child even when they don’t need it. To love is to have the power to wait and withhold.