One Cuts, The Other Choses

One Cuts, the Other Choses

I was delighted a while ago, when I caught a commercial on TV, on which a mom told one son to cut the last piece of contested dessert into two pieces and the other son would then chose which piece he wanted.

I loved discovering this technique as a young mother of two pre-teen children. This not only gets the parent out of the fight, it fosters a sharing attitude. And I'm pretty sure it gave my daughter the precision of judgement she's using at law school and my son the keen vision that has led him into art. Brilliant.

It really cools the emotional temperature of a battle over chocolate cake when the slicer has to slow her breathing and steady her hand for the important cut. Meanwhile, the choser is readying himself for an all-but-atomic level examination of the 2 pieces. This is serious stuff!

Actually, after 3 or 4 sessions of this the older child realizes that there are many more important matters, and the younger child takes her cue and adopts a more casual attitude to what previously had been a life or death power struggle.

This is an example of my favorite type of parenting technique, one that supports positive sibling-to-sibling interraction, lowers the emotional temperature of the situation, and provides a little entertainment to the onlooking parent. Obviously young children should not use any sharp implements without adult supervision.

Rachel adds:

Audrey, my parents used the 'one cuts the other chooses' technique when my brother and I were growing up. Eventually, we had to alternate who got to choose because that role seemed to have the advantage!

Sharon adds:

My children are just starting to argue, now that my daughter is two and everything is “mine, mine, mine!”. If they argue once, I remind them that they need to share or take turns. If they argue twice, then they get separated and have to play alone. It only takes about five minutes for them to realize that playing together is way more fun than playing alone. It usually solves the problem for that day, anyway. Plus, it’s an extra bonus for me to see them hug each other like they’ve been separated for months when I finally agree to let them play together again.


mid-life rookie responded on July 17, 2008 at 5:43 AM #

I used the one cuts, the other chooses to teach the concept of half back when I was teaching. We used it when I was growing up too. Alas manBoy is an only and we haven't really had occasion to use it.