Written by: Isabelle Lessard
Everyone was once the helpless witness of a fight between their children. Once, I dreamed of having a family living in constant harmony, with everyone permanently in a good mood… but I was in for a reality check! The worse for me was really seeing my kids fighting and both having good arguments, but refusing to hear the other out.
I tried different approaches to bring my girls back on good terms, each time varying how much I intervened. As much as I wanted to, at first I decided not to intervene… but with no results to show for it, I couldn’t bring myself to let things get worse! Then, I did exactly the opposite and went for a more interventionist approach. Believe me, I once again learned from my mistakes: trying to reason with a child and explain how they should change their behaviour makes them too defensive to be receptive.
So now, I’ve decided to be more subtle about it. When I feel inspired, I use analogies so my children put things into perspective. This allows them to first gain an objective understanding of a concept without their emotions taking over; only then do I reveal the connection with their own situation.
I recently used this method when my daughters where getting on each others’ nerves and were both pretty upset about it:
“Honey, have you ever heard the expression ‘tight knit’?”
“You know when you don’t fully clip your toenail, it sometimes gets stuck in drapes in such?”
“Well, if you go to bed with a wool sheet, you’ll surely end up with some loose fibers the next morning because your toenail got stuck in it. There might even be a hole in the sheet, right?”
“But if you had tightly knit cotton sheets instead, you wouldn’t end up with loose fibers because the cloth is much more resistant, you know?”
“Well it’s kind of the same thing with your family. We can choose to be a ‘tightknit family’ by building strong, lasting relationships based on love. In this case, minor accidents or conflicts won’t break the family apart… do you understand?”
As I let her think it over for a few minutes, I could see her contemplative mind was becoming more open. That’s when I suggested that each of them make an effort to understand the other’s state of mind, all to make our family more “tightknit” than ever. As a result, the girls had the (more than correct) impression that their efforts to make up would first and foremost benefit the entire family, a new entity to them, and not only the “opposing party”.
Phew! That was a close call!
Have fun exchanging with your little ones!