Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bicker Free Brothers and Sisters

We have brothers. And we have sisters.
And they have a tendency to bicker... when left to their own.

Even "back in the day" there was sibling fighting! Don't feel so bad...

But, I take the perspective that the mere fact God has place them in each others lives is not a mistake. Brothers and sisters (or sisters and sisters or brothers and brothers) need each other. Close in age siblings have the blessing of learning about relationship, community and unity at a young age... that is if we teach them how to live with and alongside each other in peace.

(Skip this if you could care less about why I had to learn to teach my kids not to bicker...)

Perhaps this is better understood by others, it isn't so much for me. My only brother is almost 10 years older than me. I grew up just assuming it was "normal" for others to be cared for and supervised by an older sibling. When I was 4, he was 14... when I was 11 he was 21. My family was: me the child and from my perspective 3 grown ups. As you can imagine I had many benefits from all the love and attention (I wasn't spoiled or mollycoddled) but I did get lots of one on one time with adults. On the down side I never had to share, be cooperative with siblings, got to share a room or had to make allowances for the needs of others around me. I have learned a lot in college and adulthood... and perhaps even more in teaching, parenthood and having a larger family in a short amount of time!

(Start reading again...)

All that said... We don't like bickering, verbal meanness, hitting, snatching toys, yelling, etc...
Who does?
Even children don't like this.

BUT... Children are selfish and sinful (aren't we all)... we expect them to be childish, but also try to help them learn (for their own benefit) that fighting, bickering and selfishness will not get then anywhere in life, nor does it make our home a peaceful place. It is my job to teach them how to communicate their wants and to accept a negative response with a gracious/happy attitude... and to help make our home a peaceful haven.

Here is our method... (the method to our madness)

1. During a calm moment... or a bit after a particularly difficult time. Stop your children and call them together. Start by saying, "I noticed that recently you all are having trouble with fighting, arguing, and not sharing (fill in the blank)... Can we talk about a better way to handle this issue, so that we all feel like we are heard and loved? Don't we all want to be treated kindly? Don't we want our home and family to be a peaceful place?"

2. Explain that when we used harsh or demanding words it automatically makes people angry, which causes them to react in a mean and unkind way. We must approach others with love and with calm words.

3.Teach them this way of dealing with others... the script:
Ask - "May I play with that, please?"
Respond - We give one of two response options: 1. Sure/yes. 2. Later, please.
Accept - Either accept the toy with a thanks or accept the answer with grace and "Ok."
Follow up - If "later" was the option, the asker must not pester and the askee must make sure and give the toy over in a reasonable amount of time.

4. Then teach them what to do if others continue to be selfish:
If the askee says "no!" or is unkind in any way the asker must first remind them of the way we must answer and help encourage the brother or sister to remember that we need to follow the rules of sharing (this is for the age 4 and up children).
If they persist in their unwillingness and unkindness then the asker can come to a parent and ask for help. This is when a parent would use their authority to instruct and perhaps use some form of appropriate consequence for one or both children, depending on attitudes and actions.

5. We teach verses to our children that apply to the topic of dealing with difficult people. Memorize them and remind them of what to do when others do us "evil". In our home we simply say, "Do not repay evil for evil, but give a blessing instead!" The verses we use...

"Do not repay evil for evil... but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing." 1 Peter 3:9

"See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone." 
1 Thessalonians 5:15

6. Then act it out! Act out all the possible scenarios of what others might say or do. Have fun with it! Adding some drama of mom acting like a spoiled selfish toddler are funny and also helps children to see how (their) childishness is not very pleasant for others.

7. Teach, Help, Let This is your job mom and dad... learn it and do it. 95% of the disciplining of children in the act of personal parental discipline to respond and teach children (I just made that up... but I still think it is true)! Tell them to go and try it out. Sit with in ear shot and listen. Step in, and help. Repeat as much as needed.
Pat yourself on the back for teaching your child a highly useful personal skill and most of all enjoy the benefits (peace and quiet) of children who bicker less and love and communicate with others in a more effective way!

See... I took this picture as proof that it works... see how angelic they are???
I hope you know I am joking!

No comments: