Bickering At Home
Imagine for a second a car alarm down the street has been activated. ERRRNK-ERRRNK-ERRRNK. It is incessant. Like a power tool in your brain, the constant bleat of the horn digs deeper and deeper, driving you to distraction. You'd give anything to make it stop. And there is nothing you can do.
It's sort of the same when your kids are constantly bickering at each other. Endless. Incessant. That whiney tone and the non-stop badgering digs deeper and deeper into your brain, driving you distraction, elevating your blood pressure - and then - before you know it, you've become EVIL PARENT! You know who evil parent is. That person who looks like you but has a ghastly voice that shrieks at the children, "You stop that this instant!" And yet, they continue. I hate it. I hate me when I become evil parent. I hate that I have allowed those little people take control over me and push me over the edge like that.
If they would stop, I reasoned, I wouldn't turn into evil parent. But how, I wondered?
The good news is, your children are reasoning, thinking beings, even if they rarely give evidence of this fact! It occurred to me, if I appealed to the reasoning side of my kids, rather than the emotional side (screaming wasn't working anyway!), perhaps I'd have better success.
Check out this quote: "Words are like sunbeams. The more tightly they're focused, the more deeply they burn."
With that as my premise, this is what I told my kids. And it worked!
I said, "There is no one in the whole wide world who loves you more than your family. Friends and teachers care about you, but they will come and go. No matter how long you live, as long as you live, you will have your family. They will always be there for you, no matter what."
I continued, "You can never make me stop loving you. You can disappoint me. You can frustrate me. You can infuriate me. But you can never make me stop loving you. And because I love you, when you are mean to me, it hurts much worse than when someone at work is mean to me. It hurts my feelings, yes. But it doesn't hurt my heart. It hurts my heart when you are mean."
"And it's the same for your brother or sister. If a friend is not nice at school, it is disappointing. Like this: I held my fingers open about an inch. But if you are not nice to your brother or sister, it's like this: And I held my arms open as wide as I could. Because they care so much about you and love you, when you aren't kind, it hurts even worse."
"Being mean doesn't make you feel good, does it?" I asked. "No," was the reply. "In fact, I feel kind of bad when I am mean."
"I know, it's the same for me too." I assured my child. "On the other hand, when you are nice, like those little I love you notes you write, it's way more wonderful than a note from someone else, because I love YOU so much! It means so much more for you to do or say something nice to me because I care so much about you. And it's the same for your brother and sister."
I then encouraged my child to do an experiment. Do something nice for his sibling and see how he felt. He agreed. It feels a lot better to be sweet than sour. The bickering hasn't ended at home. But it's diminished a bit. For that, this mom at least, is very grateful!