Summertime is arriving, and with it comes fun activities in the warm weather, late relaxing evenings around a backyard campfire……. And then all the in between times. It’s those in between times where boredom pops its head up and my kids begin to bicker and squabble more than normal; they don’t get along. I don’t view conflict as a negative thing. Kids need to learn healthy ways of resolving conflict, but bickering and squabbling is not what I consider healthy.
If yours are like mine, or even if you are like me, Summertime is wonderful and frustrating all at the same time. The change from being on a regular schedule to having a lot more free time can leave us feeling a little lost and a bit testy. It becomes harder to get along.
Summertime, even though we all really look forward to it and celebrate its arrival, brings a certain amount of stress all its own. Through that stress, less than stellar character qualities are revealed. I used to be frustrated by this. Yet, I’ve realized it’s a great time for character training in specific areas.
Usually the needed character training comes out in how my children treat one another. They naturally have moments when they don’t get along by bickering, grudge holding, and selfishness that we work on correcting, but boredom tends to magnify this. Through trial and error there are a few things I’ve done that have helped them in maturing in their relationships with one another as well as motivate them to choose more appropriate ways to express frustration with one another.
Regardless of what you choose to do to help your kids mature in their relationships and learn to get along with one another, consistency is key. You can read more about how consistency helps in training your children here in my book, Plug In to Your Child; Ages 4-9: Connect to Your Child’s Heart and Motivate Great Behavior.
Five Ways to Teach Your Children How to Get Along:
1. I set ground rules with my kids. I tell them what I expect of them in their attitudes, words, and actions with one another. When one of them doesn’t meet my expressed expectation, for one hour they must serve the child/ren with whom they didn’t work through the conflict in an acceptable way. (Do their chores, get them lunch etc.) The other child can’t lord it over him or they will get 2 hours of service to me. I plan to have them stay within seeing and hearing while I do my necessary work during this hour.
2. When your children respond incorrectly to one another, talk them through how the conflict resolution could have gone differently. Have them role play the conflict again, practicing responding correctly. The next time a conflict comes up and they begin to bicker, stop them and have them start at the beginning of their conflict to resolve it correctly.
3. Have the two who are arguing or bickering hold hands and give them tasks to complete. If they continue to argue and bicker while completing the tasks, give them extra tasks. Encourage them to listen to one another and consider ideas other than their own. Don’t let them make a game out of it. Remind them that learning to work through conflict in an appropriate way is not a game and that they will get more tasks to complete if they don’t take it serious.
4. Have the children involved in bickering write 5 to 10 specific things they are thankful for, or that they should be thankful for. Have them include something specific about their siblings. Hold your children to attitudes of gratitude.
5. If they are able, have them read verses in the bible that talk about loving one another. Explain that loving one another starts in the home. Talk about what loving one another looks like. Have them role play demonstrating love to one another and preferring one another in love.
These are just 5 things that may help. I’m sure there are many more things that can be done to teach your children to resolve conflict with one another. There are three tips that are important in teaching your children to get along.
Three Tips To Remember
First, it’s my opinion that children should apologize and ask forgiveness when appropriate. There should be an understanding of the wrong that was committed. The offender may not want to apologize and ask forgiveness, but it has been my experience that in learning this practice of apologizing and doing it even when they don’t want to helps them overcome their future of being an adult who knows they have done wrong and refuses to apologize. It is more of a pride issue that needs to be worked on in character development.
Related to that is the offended who refuses to accept an apology and forgive. We have grudge holders in our family. When we say we forgive, we also act like we do. We accept the brother or sister back into play and we continue learning to relate to each other. The grudge holder is demonstrating pride if they do not forgive, and that also needs to be worked on.
Second, it is important that you and your children have a relationship of respect for one another. Your attitude, words, and actions must be what you expect from your kids. If your attitude, words, and actions don’t reflect respect of yourself or them, then you’ll need to start making changes in yourself. My suggestion is to start by listening to what you think to yourself and begin to catch negative unnecessary thoughts and change them into thoughts of gratitude.
Third, if you haven’t taught your kids that you are serious the first time you tell them something, then some work needs to be done on helping them understand the need to listen and obey the first time. In my book, Plug In to Your Child; Ages 4-9: Connect to Your Child’s Heart and Motivate Great Behavior, I talk about the importance of training your children and the difference between training and discipline. You can find my book here.
You can do it! You can have a wonderful relaxing summer with your children. They really can enjoy one another with bickering and squabbles at a minimum. Teach them how.