Do your kids constantly bicker? Do they fight and argue? I think anyone with more than one child will say this happens more often than they’d like. My kids are definitely ‘frenemies’; absolutely best friends one minute and fighting the next. So, how do you promote daily kindness amongst your children? Do you have a reward system? Do you dish out consequences when they’re due. Or do you repeat yourself over and over to no avail?
I most certainly do not have the answer to this question, so I’m honestly asking you all for your input! I have learned a few simple ways to at least temporarily calm the storm of sibling rivalry and I’m happy to share those with you today.
STEP 1: SHOW KINDNESS
It is imperative that we teach our children good habits and we do that first and foremost by showing them. We are the role models so we must be the best version of ourselves. How can we expect our children to show kindness if we’re not showing kindness? I am the first to admit that I am by no means perfect. I get stressed, I get overwhelmed and I snap. On those days, I find my children bickering with one another more than usual. They’re emulating my behavior. This is always a wake up call to correct my behavior as it’s my responsibility to teach them good habits by showing them good habits. I thank them for the reminder, apologize for my mistakes and try to move forward with a fresh start.
STEP 2: SEPARATE
Sometimes, when my children have been at odds with each other for a prolonged period of time, I find it best for everyone to have a chill out time. We separate. It’s not time out, it’s not solitary confinement; it’s just s p a c e. Well-needed quiet time to be alone with our thoughts and all do our own thing. Adults need space from overbearing coworkers and moody friends, so do children! Oftentimes, I find that after 10-15 minute of playing in separate rooms, my children will beg to play with each other again. They just needed a break to reset and recharge. And that’s ok! It’s ok to be alone, it’s ok to need space, it’s ok to want to do your own thing for a little while.
STEP 3: DAILY KINDNESS CHART
When steps 1 & 2 aren’t working, I institute our daily kindness chart. They know they’ve gone too far if I need to whip this out. But that’s ok, because it always works, every single time. I created this simple printable of ways to be kind. They each get their own and have to fill in all of the boxes in one day. Their acts of kindness don’t have to be directed at one another, they can be directed at anyone, but more often than not, they do them for each other. They get so excited wanting to accomplish everything on their page and color their boxes in. When they’ve completed all of their acts of kindness for the day, I let them choose a sticker to put on the page and we display them on our family bulletin board. They soften their ways and feel pride that they did something good. Occasionally, I’ll print them out for a week, but it never takes longer than 1-2 days for the acts of kindness to become part of their natural routine and the sheet is no longer necessary. They just needed a reminder.
When all else fails: read. When I have exhausted my options, I simply sit down and open a book and start reading aloud. The kids always come. They always sit quietly and listen. It allows a do-over, a new beginning, a fresh start. It distracts them from what they were upset or bickering about. It offers new ideas and use of their imagination. It bonds us in a way that nothing else does.
Do you use a daily kindness chart? How do you approach bickering siblings? Leave a comment below and share your story! You can scoop our free Daily Kindness Chart from the Freebies tab! Let me know how it works for you!