There’s been a lot of fighting around here recently. A lot of fighting. Sibling fighting. Kids fighting parents. Parents fighting, well, large glasses of scotch.
Today, landisdad and I took extreme measures.
We called our first family meeting. Unfortunately, we’re not very creative, so we had to crib the agenda from a Berenstain Bears story. We made a similar chart. What can I say?
- Calling names: dust the family room
- Using bad language: wash the kitchen table
- Throwing things: clean the bathroom sinks
- Hitting/pushing/etc.: weed the garden for 20 minutes
- Refusing a time out: dust the living room
- Threatening to hurt someone: pick up toys in the basement
- Sharing: get a sticker on the family fun chart
- Getting along for a whole day: extra half-hour of tv
- Using words, calmly, to tell someone you’re angry: extra story at bedtime
I also made the kids sign a piece of paper that says, “Our family will try as hard as we can to treat each other with love and respect.” Sort of a mission statement, if you will.
So far, we’ve got a cleaner family room, spick-and-span sinks, and and a slightly less-weedy front yard (happily, it’s the end of summer, so not much is left living except the mums and the asters). The Potato, guilty on all counts. Both of the kids did manage to earn an extra story for tonight, though, and the Bee helped the Potato accomplish most of his chores.
What we didn’t have was any major outbursts from the Bee, which was sort of my main goal.
We’ll have to see what happens over the long haul. One of the most important things I’ve learned from parenting is that any discipline strategy can work in the short term, on sheer novelty value if nothing else. I’m tired of dishing out punishments that are both a) too punitive and b) too ineffective. It’s made me think about work, and how kids used to have to do so much more of it. Not in an “in my day” kind of way, but way, way, back in the day. The Bee’s a little young, but only a little, to have been sent into the mines, or the sweatshop, or to milk Old Bessie. I bet those kids came home too tired to fight with each other.