During a recent social media exchange concerning weapons play on my Explorations Early Learning Facebook Page, a commenter suggested we agree to disagree.
I agreed. Minds were not changing–why not politely move on?
I love that adults can civilly agree to disagree–online and in the real world. The willingness to respectfully exchange contrary opinions and then politely moving on without name calling, denigration, or wishes of death is something I think the world could use more of.
You…you can disagree. You can believe the whole world should move in lockstep with your beliefs and wish me strapped to a beehive and covered in flower pollen for ending a sentence with a preposition.
Basking in the afterglow of polite online disagreement, I started wondering what would happen if we adults were more willing/able to agree to disagree with children and their play choices. Do we always have to agree with a child’s play choice to allow it?
Far to often, adults attempt bending children’s play into a form they find acceptable, educational, or proper. “Jenna, we don’t play like that here. Why don’t you…”, “Tommy, that’s not the correct way to use the…”, “Kimberly, it’s not time to play with the…”
What would happen if we took a deep breath, mentally agreed to disagree, held our tongue, and trusted the child be the boss of their own play when Jenna started up a game of Ninja Turtles, Tommy started using the counting bears as projectiles, and Kimberly dove into the LEGO when the schedule said she should be criss-cross applesauce on the rug for circle time?
Additionally, what would happen if, in the moments after agreeing to disagree, we paused to observe–looking for clues as to what the child might be learning during their play? Or how they were benefiting from it? Jenna honing large muscle skills while working through something disturbing she’d seen on television the night before, Tommy experimenting with the laws of motion and gravity, Kimberly replicating a structure she’d seen in a storybook earlier in the day.
We can’t always agree to disagree and let them do as they like. There are definitely times to say no. “Sam, you can’t paint the cat, Miss Tabby doesn’t like that.”, “Beth, that’s a nice tissue paper and pipe cleaner hang glider you built, but I can’t let you jump off the slide.”, “Kelly, it’s 3:00 AM…put the ukulele away and go to sleep.” There are also times for compromise: “Kelly, go to sleep now and you can serenade me with a ukulele song in 4 hours while we make breakfast.”
AND, why not agree to disagree when we can?
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Want to torture me with bees? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments…