Sometimes I wonder if I give too much advice. I never want to seem like a “know it all”. But there are times I see parents having a problem with something I have gone through with my kids. If I can, I try to offer a solution that has worked for us. The other day, I was able to share my solution for the “me first” attitude kids can get.
I don’t remember Matthew or Sarah having this problem. But I remember realizing one day that Ben and especially Rebekah were getting really bad about wanting to be “me first”. They would fight each other to be the first at just about anything, snacks, getting in the car, toys, you name it there was a fight over who was going to be first.
So I came up with a solution that worked like magic in our family. It was not instant but was easy to implement and practical. It works not just at home, but also while we are out in public. I have also taken this idea and used it while teaching younger kids in Sunday School and it works just as well out.
My solution is based on Matthew 20:16 says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
And that became my go to phrase. When Rebekah would push Ben out of the way so she could be first, I would simply state, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” Then she would have to wait until everybody went ahead of her.
A practical application goes something like this. I am fixing a snack of apples and peanut butter dip. Ben and Rebekah are fussing over who will get the first apple. So who does mom give the first apple to? Well Matthew or Sarah, who have been sitting quietly and patiently. Who will be the last to get their snack? Ben and Rebekah.
Because I tried hard to consistently use this technique, the behavior eventually extinguished itself. But I have found it is a great technique to use in a classroom setting as well. One Sunday this summer, I brought in a snack of pretzels. One little boy yelled “pretzels!” and before I knew what was happening had his hand inside the bag. I quickly extracted his hand and told the kids the rules in our family. I explained how in our family if you try to be first, you will be last. Then I made him sit and wait until everyone else had been served. Only one other time over the summer did I have to remind them of this rule. The kids, of all ages, learned Miss Jill would make you last if you tried to be first.