Pin It The kids were at it again yesterday. I could hear them in the playroom, snarling and swiping at each other.
Part of me was sympathetic. It was raining outside, and we'd been home for a little under an hour from church, where we'd been all day. We'd had an array of exhausting activities (all the more so because of my duties as chief organizer), including a covered dish lunch, Easter egg hunt, bounce houses, panel board games, and Travis the Balloon Dude. It was fun, but we were all sapped of energy and just a little on edge. I was feeling a little snarly, myself.
The other part of me...the tired, had-enough, Mom part of me, was done. I carried two stools into the middle of the floor and set them twelve inches apart. It was time for some serious intervention, courtesy of Bonnie over at http://www.mammahasspoken.blogspot.com/ . Last time my kids had an argument, she gave me this brilliant discipline tidbit.
"Both of you take a seat on the stools," I ordered. With some grumbling and a "what the heck?!" from Autumn, they obeyed.
"Now, you are both going to tell each other ten things about the other that you love."
They looked at each other warily, but no one spoke a word. Apparently it was okay to tell each other how much you despise them, but love? HA!
"You're not getting up until you do," I added. "Autumn, you start."
She immediately began squirming on the stool, laying belly down across it and kicking her legs up in the air. "I-like-your-blue-jeans," she mumbled.
"Ehhhh. Compliments on clothing are not allowed."
Some more squirming ensued. Finally, "I love your brown eyes." I wasn't a big fan of appearance compliments, either, but decided to let it pass. I kind of loved his brown eyes, myself.
Lawson giggled. "I love your brown eyes, too." They were kind of the same, a deep sherry brown color with a darker rimming of chocolate.
"I like the way you take forever in the bathroom in the morning." I looked at Autumn in consternation.
"You like that?" She nodded affirmatively.
"It gives me an excuse to be late." Hmmm. Sneaky child.
Lawson spoke up. "I like that you help me with puzzles."
And so it went, until each had reached the requisite ten loving compliments. All told, it took around twenty five minutes to get there. Once complete, they looked at me expectantly.
"Alright...are we going to get along now?"
Giggling, they replaced the kitchen stools and resumed play. I didn't hear a single contrary word the rest of the night.
This exercise taught me a powerful lesson, and it's one I hope my kids got, too. It is amazing to me that insults and deprecations fall so easily from our lips to those we are closest to, but compliments are so difficult to squeeze out. I made a point later that evening, when my husband walked in the door, to thank him for all of his assistance during the Easter festival, and also for washing the dishes for me that afternoon. Then I proceeded to laugh like I was eighteen again at all of his corny jokes. I made sure the kids heard it. I want them to know that it's okay to be nice, polite, and good-natured to those we love, and to express gratitude toward them, because after all...monkey see, monkey do. I'm guilty, after fifteen years of marriage, of taking my wonderful husband just a little for granted.
After last evening, with my "nice" button firmly turned on, he's probably wondering what got into me.
It was just Mamma's teaching. Thanks, Bonnie.