My previous post was about how to minimize sibling rivalry. If you missed it, check it out before reading this post by clicking here.
This week I want to elaborate on the third step - Teaching the WHY.
What I mean is WHY the kids fought, and how they can choose differently in the future.
This system that I have developed is a GAME CHANGER.
Instead of your kids developing bitterness, resentment, and blame for each other, you can use this method to help them draw closer together. This method helps them foster love. (Yes, even after they fought hard!)
Here it is in a nutshell...
When kids fight, seek to help them understand 5 things:
What they did wrong
Why they reacted that way
What they really believe
What they could have done instead
How they can make it right
I’ll use the example of child A taking child B’s toy, and child B hitting child A.
Step 1: Help them understand what they did wrong
If Child A took their toy, and Child B hit them back, I’ll call Child B over to me and have a conversation about what happened.
Yes, you read that right, I often start with the child who did NOT start it.
If I can talk to both, I will, but if tempers are high, I will start with the one who is the most angry. (That is usually the one who reacted last.)
Usually the child wants to tell me what the other person did. But here’s the thing: I don’t really care what the other kid did. I mean I do, but not for the purpose of teaching the child in front of me.
If they think that the other person doing something wrong justifies their own behavior, they will never learn self control.
So I seek to help them see what THEY did that was wrong.
Please notice this point! Too often when kids fight, they begin pleading their case to the adults around them, hoping that the adults will pass judgement in their favor.
This causes rivalry among siblings.
I do not want to pit my children against each other. I am not a judge. It is not my job to decide who was right and who was wrong.
Magic happens when I leave blame out of it and help each child focus on what THEY did and what they are capable of.
So I will ask them questions such as:
Are we supposed to hit people when they take our toy? Is that what you have been taught? Do you think hitting is the right thing to do? Do you want to live in a world where people hit each other? Is that how you want to handle conflict in our family?
I want them to see that hitting is still wrong, even if someone takes something we had.
If they can see that what they did was wrong, then they are ready for step 2.
Step 2: Help them understand why they reacted that way
Once they understand that what they did was wrong, I want to ask them why they did it.
So I’ll ask them, “Why did you hit your brother?”
They will usually say it is because of the other person’s behavior, but I know that is NOT the reason.
Everything anyone does is because of what they are feeling.
If a child was hitting, they were doing so because they were feeling a negative emotion such as anger. If they were feeling happy, they wouldn't have hit.