The other day as I was browsing around on the world wide web, I came across a little gem that begged for my opinions. I know, I know…I’m usually so reserved when it comes to spouting my opinions.
Oh wait…that was the “me” from 30 years ago.
Well, she’s long gone and probably not coming back (did anyone else just hear my husband groan?).
Let’s just move forward.
So the article was about the top 10 ways to keep your kids from fighting. I don’t know who authored it, but it appears to have been published in ’07. All I know is that I’m glad my kids never had to sit next to her kids in school. It wouldn’t have gone well.
Allow me to highlight a few of her “tips”.
Ignore their fighting. (…there will be less incentive for them to do it if they don’t get your attention.)
No, don’t do that.
Instead, help them learn to work through the conflict. Teach them the art of compromise and to listen to each other. If you start young, they will learn to to respect each other when they do disagree…which of course they will. So teach them how to do it well, their future spouses will thank you.
- Give your kids positive reinforcement when they are cooperating. (…Let them know that they’re doing a wonderful job when they get along.)
I don’t mean to be snarky here, but if your kid needs to be told they are doing a wonderful job for…wait for it…behaving appropriately, then you have already lost way too much ground. My kids were taught how to disagree respectfully, because they needed to learn how to do it respectfully. When they learned that skill, they understood exactly what was expected of them. I didn’t need to praise them for doing what they were supposed to do. That’s a very dangerous precedence to start. It’s the first step in lowering the bar for future poor behaviour. “I’m so pleased that you finally stopped grabbing toys from your brother! You’re doing a great job!” Really, people?!? Let’s ask the one who kept having his toys taken away by ‘Mr. Great Job’. (snark intended)
Limit the number of fighting opportunities you give your kids. (…Don’t buy a red ball and a blue ball, this can easily result in a fight by your kids. Buy two red balls)
Where do I even begin? I’ve heard so many parents say to me, “you know how it is…what you do for one you have to do for the other!” Then they shake their heads as if it’s out of their control. How about teaching your kids to be happy for each other when they get a special treat. Again, I can’t emphasize enough, it’ll be so much easier if you start young. We used to go out of our way to plan a special thing for just one of our kids at a time. It took training, but we would talk to the other kids and say, “This time, it’s (insert name)’s turn to go to the playground with Daddy. You can go next time. Let’s be happy for her! Remember how excited you were to get Daddy all to yourself last time?” It wasn’t long before they understood that it would be their turn and teaching your kid to anticipate an event is a far better skill than just trying to avoid the conflict.
Avoid punishing your kids in general. (…do your best to give choices and alternatives)
Hold. The. Phone. It was at this point that I thought this whole piece might actually be satire…because, I’m sure when they get to their first job and they don’t show up for a shift, their boss will say, “That’s OK! Why don’t you let me know when you might feel like working. I’ll let you make the choice…” (OK, super-snarky, premeditated and fully intended) The author continues to say, “Punishment may bring short term solutions, but will also bring long term problems.” Like what? The ability to respect authority? Follow rules? Succeed without needing hand-holding? I don’t enjoy punishing my kids. That goes without saying. But knowing that they know how to conduct themselves in public and with colleagues is directly related to them learning right from wrong, sometimes the hard way.
Love your kids for all they’re worth. (…tell them you love them, and more importantly, show them.)
OK. This was the only thing she said that I can get behind 100%. Take the time to let these beautiful little gifts know exactly how important they are to you. Put your phone down. Teach them to be great people. It’s the best job there is.