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How To Avoid Common Family Headaches With Proper Parenting Techniques
Although I was fortunate to receive free parenting training twice through a study conducted by UCLA, I found myself at a loss when my children started exhibiting unacceptable behavior during winter break. Inadvertently,I slid into reactionary behavior of screaming back, ordering the children to stop hurting each other and bickering with each other. Fortunately, I ended this in a day because I started reading a book called Raising a Self-Disciplined Child: Help Your Child Become More Responsible, Confident, and Resilient by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein, which jogged my memory of what I should have done.
I decided that we start having dinner meetings to discuss the two most common problems between siblings: hitting and fighting over their turn. Without telling them what to do, I asked the children how one should act when one hits another, accidentally or not. Should we ask whether the other person is okay? We are not capable of gauging our strength when one comes in contact with someone else. And, should we also apology? Nobody likes being hit. We then moved to role playing, which is important so that they can learn what the proper behavior is so that they do not instinctively resort to the old behaviors. I then asked how each could do it better instead of one child hitting the other child who was sitting on the ground, the second child hitting back, and then the first child kicked the second child in the neck. Each child took turns playing the role of the hitter and the victim.
We then moved onto the next problem--fighting over a turn on a video game. We talked about what was a fair amount of time before handing over the game controller. The talk led to a discussion of the purpose of gaming. One child said that he wanted to win while the younger one said that she was not good at it. Neither wanted the other to play, which led to a discussion on the ownership of the Wii. They had to hear that the parents owned it, and that if they could not agree to a method of taking turns that neither would play. Also, if they bickered so much about how the other is playing with a parent, it really detracts the enjoyment out of the time spent with a child. "How would one feel if that too happened to you?" I asked each child.
In the car, we also had discussions about tattling on the others. This seems to be a big problem for our family. You hear screaming and shouting. How can a parent concentrate behind the wheel? We decided that the children could tap the parent who is not driving and state "excuse me." Otherwise, no conversation or tattling would be acknowledged.
Once my daughter accidentally hit her brother, and she immediately asked whether he was okay and stated that she was sorry. He immediately said that she didn't mean it. He later denied ever saying the later, and we had another family meeting. So, with a bit of effort, we avoid a physical altercation. As for the video game fighting, I noticed that maybe this problem is held at an abeyance since the middle schooler has a lot of homework and cannot play on the Wii. However, this will be tested on weekends. As for taking turns tattling in the car, this does not work consistently. We now play a game of keeping silent in the car as long as possible for a prize.
The Family Meetings
I found our family meetings to be instrumental. I told them that we are going to make a mission statement for the family, as recommended by Stephen Covey in his book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. We have yet reached our mission statement, but we each took turn expressing our wishes for the new year. I learned that my daughter wanted a Razor-type scooter and that my son wanted a skateboard. Both kids want to return to Monterey Bay Aquarium. One child thought the meeting was too long, but like eating vegetables, the children will soon find them as valuable as I do. And because my daughter is enjoying her scooter, we are also spending more time at the park.
In summary, the next time you find yourself ready to tear out your hair over your children's fighting or bickering, just take a deep breath, call time out and hold your family meeting. It may be that the children don't know how to behave better in that situation, and you can help by showing them how to role play.
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