Chocolate chip cookies can be valuable teaching tools, as a family friend a few generations back demonstrated with her baking.
The woman would whip up a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies for her children. She intentionally made the cookies different sizes. Some cookies were big, some cookies were little. (I know, they wouldn't cook evenly, but apparently that wasn't a concern back in the day, so work with me.)
She would put the different size cookies in a cookie jar. The children were welcome to take a cookie, but they were not allowed to peak in the jar. They had to take what they got. As you can guess, the children who got big cookies were delighted, and those who got small cookies were displeased.
The mom explained to her children that the cookies were just like life. Sometimes good things happen, and other times there are disappointments. Her goal was to teach the kids that the breaks sometimes go you way, but not always. Life is not always perfectly equitable or just. No child ever got all big cookies, just as no one has a perfectly charmed life. The children were expected to be grateful for what they were given. They could also hold out hope for a bigger cookie next time.
She sent those kids the clear message that the sooner you learn to accept that life has its share of disappointments, the better off you'll be. The lesson has trickled down through the generations and now when something doesn't work out quite the way one had hoped, we shrug and say, "Big cookies, little cookies." That said, I remember my mom's cookies being pretty uniform, and I haven't tried the approach myself.
I figured my tween would figure out the lessons on her own, and she's learning them now. My tween's life is quite fine, but recently a few things have not gone her way. It is disappointing to not always get what you want. I think tweens in particular have a hard time making peace with this and with the fact that life is not always fair.
I'm trying to hard back off and let her come to terms with disappointment. It's a long journey, one that isn't accomplished in a batch of cookies or a year. Many adults, myself included, sometimes find it difficult, too. But I'm hoping she can find sweetness in even her little cookies and that she holds out hope for big cookies in the near future.
Do you think the "big cookie, little cookie" method is a bit harsh? Would you do it? How do you help your children learn to accept life's inevitable disappointments?
Filed under: Parenting