I certainly hope no one believes just because I do “this” for a living that our kids never have bad attitudes, disagreements, bickering, fighting and the like. I believe I do what I do very well, but our kids are still learning and growing. We still deal with these things like everyone else. I leave my ego at the door when it comes to being Dad, but I will gladly celebrate victories, great and small. We had one such victory today.
As they’ve been doing more of lately, my daughters got into a spat while walking the dog. These spats themselves do not last long, but one daughter struggles processing her emotions over it, and can be “unavailable” for up to 3-4 hours.
The solution to this, my wife and I say, are for each of them to treat the other as they would like to be treated… the good old “Golden Rule.” We’ve been telling them this for a couple of years now at least. Up until about a year ago, they would complain if their one act of kindness toward the other did not eliminate future offenses from them. That’s the first time I added the phrase “no matter what,” as the definitive commitment level it would take.
“Even if she isn’t nice to you back, even if she says nasty things, even if… even if… even if…”
“No matter what,” is a really important theme here…
As you all know, this isn’t necessarily an easy lesson for a child to grasp. It takes time, and can test your patience. I’m not here to tell you either of them have “gotten” this lesson yet, but something encouraging did occur.
After our discussion following this morning’s spat, the girls each went into different rooms. They weren’t talking to each other, but each of them decided to start cleaning up. Before I knew it, the living room had been swept and cleaned, the kitchen cleaned, dishes washed and put away, and the bathroom cleaned. In the kitchen, they worked together, and did so without being prompted or encouraged.
As they were each finishing up, they were talking again and laughing. I caught them at the tail end of something they were laughing about and praised them both heavily. They turned a less-than-desirable start to our day into something productive they could be proud of, and they worked on it together without being asked, or even having it suggested to them.
Tomorrow is a new day, of course… but today gives me new (and recent) ammunition to hopefully shoot down future shut-downs from morning spats before they arrive.
How do your children resolve conflict? What tips would you give other Dads for keeping sibling spats to a minimum?