Now this may be a little controversial to some but for my kids it works and frankly I don’t give a shit if people don’t like it.
Given I’ve got five kids they can be a handful (to say the fucking least). They don’t always get along infact far from it. I would say around 70 percent of the time they’re pissing each other off, fighting like cat and dog is probably an understatement. People said girls will be better and get on better… those people lied! In all fairness, I’m dreading them hitting their teens and if how they are now is anything to go byI’m pretty fucked and outnumbered. So I need to get a hold on their fighting while they’re small. Now while I realise shouting at them doesn’t help and I try really hard not to, it doesn’t mean I don’t do it. However this doesn’t mean they listen infact I think they listen less, they just block me out and I turn into some sort of crazy, shouty, background noise. I have been on parenting course after parenting course and in each one you swear to follow exactly what you are taught, but in reality that shits hard when you’ve got A screaming “she took my sylvanian” , R screaming “A hit me” , B stood with a clump of blond hair in her hand while denying all knowledge of why G is screaming “she pulled my hair”. I find myself doing the whole “right girls let’s all sit and talk this through” which prompts a huge stupidly loud debate on who started it… because clearly I give a fuck who started it! I give them all chance to speak individually but nope they have to talk over each other and until a week or so ago it generally ended with “RIGHT STOP IT NOW, I DON’T CARE WHO STARTED IT, IT ENDS NOW! Now all of you sit quietly for one minute and think about how you’ve made eachother feel! You’re sisters not enemy’s” Again this doesn’t really have the desired affect.
No parenting book prepares you for this shit, you’ve gone from being a mother to a boxing referee over night. They only like to tell you the easy stuff in those books. There is a fine line between teaching your children right from wrong, yet allowing them to dislike things about eachother. I mean seriously name someone you like absolutely everything about, I bet you can’t do it! There will be even a seemingly tiny thing that you dislike about them. I want my children to learn it’s ok not to like things about everyone they meet including their siblings, but also to appreciate the things they do like about people.
So B and A are screaming at eachother so high pitched I can’t even make out what they’re saying. I imagine it’s some shit that’s trivial to me, but to them it’s like their whole world comes crashing down. They’re not built like adults and see things as a lot more special than we do.
The daisy B picked me for for example, to most people it’s just a daisy, to her she worked hard to find the perfect one, to gift to me, she then picked and protected it before proudly presenting it to me and it’s the only thing she had to give so that’s a big deal and so it should be. It was recieved with masses of smiles and thankyou’s telling her how thoughtful and special she is (admittedly while wondering how the fuck I’m gunna find one exactly the same to replace it with when it inevitably dies and B notices). So when G decided to pull all the petals off it wasn’t a case of it’s ok we can get another, no daisy will be the same as the Perfect one B picked for me. That scribble on a screwed up piece of paper that you get given at the end of school, that is work well done, they’ve thought about you and drawn you a loving picture as best they can, granted it will probably go in the bin when they aren’t looking because with five kids if I kept every scrap of paper I would live in a shredder. Yes, you receive it and sometimes think, for fuck sake why can’t she make these for someone else while pasting on a massive smile and showing lots of appreciation for the scribbled on paper. Funnily enough it’s normally these sorts of things the girls fight over, or the typical situation where one sees another with a toy she wants , bearing in mind she didn’t want the fucking thing before she saw someone else with it, infact she’s not played with it in months!
So yeah B and A are fighting, neither will tell me what is going on and neither want to apologise or see they’ve done anything wrong. My over tired, poor brain can’t take it and all of a sudden from no where I have an idea! These sorts of ideas normally end horrendously in fairness, but I was trying it anyway.
So I told the girls to sit back to back, while B sat waiting A decided like fuck was she doing it , after about five minutes of encouragement they sat back to back. I was shocked but hey I’m winging it here! As you can see when she did finally sit there neither were amused.
I asked them to think about what happened and if it was worth fighting over, I then explained they can dislike things about eachother , they’re human after all however it is not acceptable to be mean to eachother or any other human being. After about five minutes they both said they were ready to start getting along. Now bearing in mind I’m still Winging it here. So I say ok now do you mind facing eachother and hold hands for one minute, while thinking about the things you like about eachother. Again they’re not amused but are happier than moments before.
I set a timer for a minute and leave them thinking about what they like about one another. They’re smiling within twenty seconds so this winging it lark isn’t going to badly it seems. The alarm sounds and I then ask if they feel one another needs a cuddle they agree.
They’re a lot happier now I ask them to keep thinking about things they like about one another while the timer is on and now they’re talking and cuddling.. progress ! The next step I only have a video for and can’t upload them here for some reason “/. However it was to keep them sat infront of one another , now though telling the other one at a time things they like about eachother, so A starts with “I like your hair B” , B follows with “I like your nose” and so on until they’ve said three things each. I’m still fucking gobsmacked this is working. Once they’ve said their three things each they ask if they can go and play. I let them obviously and that was that. For the first time in months I was seeing and hearing them playing beautifully and complimenting eachother. It’s amazing, I’m fucking amazed it worked and feeling a little like a genius right now. My theory was to show them it’s ok to dislike things about one another but focusing on the things they like about one another is much better. I totally thought it was a massive fluke and would never work again. For the rest of the weekend they got on great. And I actually managed to get the first amazing picture of them together in months.
The real test was yet to come. I explained everytime any of them fought this would happen and sure enough the time came when the others started fighting too. I’m panicking now thinking how the fuck can I do this with three or four kids. However it was unwarranted as I did and again it worked amazingly. First it was B and R that fought and within a minute they were giving eachother kisses and laughing. While A was holding B’s hand in the start to comfort her as she wasn’t happy to begin with (this is something A would never if done a couple months ago).
They all got on so much better after and complimented eachother on all sorts while playing. It was incredible and since I have used it a couple of times again with success.
Now I’ve seen people say all sorts about how to get kids to get along. From the “get along tshirt” (I tried this once and failed and to be fair when I thought about it I didn’t want them to get an acquired fear of being restricted), time outs, naughty step, being forced to apologise (I’ve also done this I won’t lie but I think it’s counter productive you can’t force someone to feel bad about something they said or did).
Yet this has by far worked the best. I think because while I’m appreciating you can’t like everything else about another human being, I am refocusing them onto the things they do like about one another, over riding the negatives with positives and so they see more positives in eachother. Even if they are as seemingly tiny as I like the button on your dress, focussing on the things they like has helped massively in them learning to appreciate one another. I’m not saying it’s an instant fix it’s not they will still fight and we will still follow this routine but at that moment in time they remember they love eachother and it’s incredible!
So yeah that’s how I use positive discipline and their own feelings to help them get along when they hate eachother. I don’t force them to apologise, I don’t scold them for disliking one another at times, I also don’t condone them being violent towards one another. Instead I teach them to see the good and that’s what they do.
I hope you enjoyed this blog, and my idea for the “learning to like eachother session” as I like to call it. I also hope your children benefit from it as much as mine do.
Until next time