Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Creative Consequences and Sibling Rivalry

Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family, AContinuing my study on A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family.  There is a topic in it I read that I already have been doing. I'd like to share the success of it.

Creative Consequences
Sometimes consequences are necessary to discourage repeated unkindness between kids. One of the most effective consequences I have found is to have the offender do a job for the child whom he hurt.  A kid can make his sister's bed or fold his brother's laundry or do his Saturday housecleaning chores.  Often, when kids are not getting along, the last thing they want to do is help each other out.  Being assigned to help each is is a strong disincentive to fighting.  

That has worked much better than just doing a time out or even a swat.  Back in the day I used a swat for every single thing.  Growing up I would just get used to the swat and eventually I learned to just do what I wanted and just bear the swat.  Then I'd go back to doing what I wanted.  When my parents started groundings, they got me where it hurt. I started to really think about my bad behavior.  So my conclusion is that swats are only for rebellion (like James Dobson suggests) and be creative in other ways to discipline.  Fitting the punishment to the crime just really has worked for my kids.

Another part of the book that really made a lot of sense to me is:

The Importance of Keeping Kids' Emotional Tanks Full
  I've come to realize that fighting between children is most intense when they are having a hard time getting their own needs met.  If a kid is feeling neglected or out of sorts, he can't have the emotional energy to speak gently to another child, to forgive, to be kind.  Often I can trace an increase of fighting in the family directly to a too-busy schedule, especially a too-busy momma, or to a too-great focus on accomplishment at the expense of family fun.  (There is much more to this chapter that is wonderful to read).

Ivy cheering for her brothers
This chapter completely hit me hard in the chest.  We used to faithfully go out once a week.  Every other Tuesday was library night and the other Tuesdays were family night at the Bass Pro Shop.  I noticed the fighting between my kids was less. Not to mention that their behavior in public was wonderful and we got tons of compliments about them!  Kids need the opportunity to learn behavior in public. Especially in the library where they have to learn to whisper.  This was great training ground. The library near us is huge and beautiful. They even have a big play area for little ones so mom can read while they play.  We always went from 7 till closing time so I always made the kids clean the play area. They would say "But we didn't make this mess all day".  I told them it's okay because we are the last to leave and we should just be good examples.  The workers loved us coming every Tuesday because they actually got to leave earlier and not stay to pick up after all the kids.  Since not getting out as often, I can see what this chapter is explaining.  It's exactly what has happened to us.

Ryan made it to the top!
So last week we started up our tradition again and we hit up Bass Pro Shop's family night.  It's so much fun because they have this HUGE fish tank where you get to see them feeding the fish (using little fish), crafts, free popcorn, rock climbing, archery, and scavenger hunt.  You'll see big families running through the store for the scavenger hunt and they totally welcome it!  Usually once a month we'll pick a special activity.  Our next chosen special activity is the ice skating rink.  Sometimes we need to just put down our work and really connect with our family.

We even put up a volleyball net in our backyard and play 1-2 times a week.  The kids are learning the game fast and we're having a ton of fun right in our backyard!  My husband and I, when we just met and then dated, played volleyball for our dates all the time.  Turns out, it's our kids' favorite sport too and we're playing and learning teamwork.

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