The Catastrophe and Wonder of a Broken Granola Bar – Through the Eyes of a Four-Year Old

You might think this is a picture of a granola bar, ready to be eaten – and you wouldn’t be wrong. But suspend your thinking for just one moment and see this through the eyes of a four-year-old who has just figured out how to open the packaging. Through his eyes, this is a picture of a catastrophe and of a wonder.

A “broken” granola bar on the left and magical bite sized granola bar pieces on the right.

My grandson opened one granola bar perfectly – as in, it was intact. Later in the day, though, when he opened a second one, it broke. It became the cause of an inconsolable child who just couldn’t eat a broken granola bar – cause we all know, it just isn’t the same.

Maybe you have noticed, there are times you just can’t reason with a young child. It doesn’t matter that they are about to “break” it with their teeth, or that it tastes just as good as if it was whole coming out of the package. It is broken and it is ruined.

Then, I had an idea. What if I took that “broken” granola bar and chopped it up into bite sized pieces – essentially, innovate by changing form. I put it on a plate and left it on a table. Soon enough, my grandson comes by and looks at the plate with wonder in his expression. “Where did you get the little granola bar pieces?” he asked. Not one to spoil the moment, I told him it was magic. It was certainly a magical moment. Before too long, all the pieces disappeared and more had to be created.

This situation could have turned out differently. I could have yelled at him. I could have taken it away and not given him anything to eat. I could have tried to argue with him, until I was blue in the face. Or I could accept that his worldview perspective of this broken granola bar was different than mine (based on quite a lot less years than my worldview perspective, although that does not matter to him), and look for a different solution.

By changing an element of the engagement, not forcing my worldview perspective on him, letting him discover something new for himself, he ate a “broken” granola bar and I was left reflecting on life’s lessons.

We know arguing doesn’t work to change someone’s mind, even those of us well beyond our youthful years. Everyone becomes more attached to their worldview perspectives, including us. Where do you have an opportunity to disengage from an argument, reflect on options, re-orient the topic and let someone discover some new worldview explorations or expansions for themselves? It is surprisingly much more effective than exasperation or frustration at something that seems obvious to you but not the other person.

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