3 Ways to Help Our Kids Be Good Mistake-Makers

Spills, homework errors, unmade beds, forgotten backpacks, lost sweatshirts, classroom warnings, and sassy tones.  These are just a few ways my kids have messed up this week alone!

Kids make mistakes!  Heck, we make mistakes too.

It’s hard for this perfectionist to admit, but EVERYONE makes mistakes.  And it’s so important that we teach our kids how to deal with them because they have, do, and always will make them.

3 Ways to Help Our Kids Be Good Mistake-Makers…
1.  Keep a calm voice:  Don’t lose our cool.  As much as we want to yell (and I have made that mistake many times), let’s try to take a deep breath and stay calm.  Sometimes just our reaction alone can create fear and anxiety over mistakes.  They may even try to hide them from us if we go all crazy on them.  Mistakes help them learn.  Mistakes are simply teachable moments.  Let’s repeat that to ourselves over and over.  It certainly helps me!

2.  Use teamwork:  What if they forget their backpack?  Do we rush it to school for them? No. We let them forget it and ask:  “I noticed you forgot your backpack today.  How did you solve that problem?  And how can you solve that problem for tomorrow?  Can I be helpful in any way?”  This puts the problem-solving power on them but also lets them know that you are there to help if they need you!  Kids must learn to figure out how to fix their own mistakes.  Teach them.  Don’t punish them.  Empower them.  Don’t embarrass them.  Oh and my favorite checklists are perfect for helping with forgetfulness by the way.

3.  Admit your own mistakes:  One of the most beautiful things my kids have said to me when I’ve apologized for a mistake I made (which is often, I might add) is:  “It’s OK, Mommy.  Everyone makes mistakes.”  Adults are mistake-makers too and the more kids see how we tell the truth, apologize, and problem-solve to “fix” our mistakes with confidence and without panic, the more they will become great mistake-makers too.

Lord, you call us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave us. (Ephesians 4:32)  As we guide our kids in making mistakes, give us grace to be kind, patience to be tenderhearted, and love to be forgiving.  And always give us the wisdom to teach.  Mistakes help us learn and grow to be more like You!

Here’s to building better families—

Christine

5 Ways to Help Our Kids Feel Important

Besides “I love you”, our kids need to hear two more things from us…

“You belong.”  
and
“You are significant.”  

For some kids saying “I love you” isn’t enough.  And you guessed it, for some kids saying “You belong” and “You are significant” just isn’t enough either.

In these cases, actions truly do speak louder than words.  As parents, how can we show our kids that we love them, that they belong, and that they are significant?

Well, I wish I could say I could give you the exact formula that every child needs, but I can’t.  What I can do is offer you just a few simple actions to get you started…

1.  Pray for them:  First and foremost, they need to know that they are children of God.  Ask Him to open their eyes to see how they are loved by Him, how they belong to Him, and how significant they are to Him–that they have a special purpose that only they can fulfill!  Ask God for wisdom for each child.  He loves them (even more than we do).  He created them and knows exactly how they are wired.  Pray for Him to guide your words and actions for what each child needs.

2.  Have Special Time:  To kids, our time means significance.  Our time means they belong…they matter…they are important.  Our time means love.  Make it a goal to not let one day go by without connecting with your child in some way. Whether it’s reading a book, asking them bedtime questions, rubbing their back, throwing a ball, etc.  Find something that works for each child and your schedule.  (And if your schedule is too busy to connect, ask yourself what you can cross off your to-do list so that you have more time to connect.)

3.  Have Monthly Dates:  One idea a mom shared with me is for the day of the month that each child was born, do a special date night with that child.  Oh my goodness do my kids LOVE this and look forward to it each month!!!

4.  Put Them Above Things:  Your kids need to know that they are more important than a broken glass, a broken toy, a stained shirt or even our phones!!  You can always replace those things but your kids are irreplaceable.  Help them clean up the mess, fix the toy, or put stainstick on their shirt.  No big deal.  And when they talk to you, put your phone down and give them the eye contact and respect they deserve (I’m preaching to myself here too!)

5.  Work as a Team:  Ask for their opinions when appropriate—meals, restaurants, vacations, movie for family movie night, etc.  Do things as a family—clean up the house together, serve the community, pray, eat meals, etc.  Work together to figure out how to solve problems in your family–too much fighting, back talk, disrespect, yelling, etc.  “Kids-this isn’t working for our family.  I would love to hear your ideas of how we can do ______________better.  Then, we will come up with a plan and work together!”

Lord, give us moments to show our kids we love them.  Give us opportunities to teach them that they belong to You and to our family.  And challenge us to put our kids above the things of this world.  Help us plant seeds that grow significance in their hearts.  

Here’s to building better families—

Christine

When Our Kids Don’t Want to Go to School–2 Things to Try

My daughter is really struggling being away from me every day for Kindergarten.  She loves it once she gets there and gets her day going in her classroom but dropping her off is just heartbreaking.  She’s the kid screaming and crying and running back to hug me one more time and clinging to my leg.  Today, they had to have two teachers pull her down the hallway to her classroom.  She was screaming and crying the whole time.

It’s HARD!  That’s how my day starts…every day!  It totally brings me back to the days when I didn’t want to leave my mom for school either.  In fact, my mom reminded me of the time when I locked her out of the car.  Of course, she was wearing a robe and curlers in her hair in her version of the story.  School was a struggle for me, and now it’s a struggle for my little girl.

In praying for wisdom, here’s what I’ve done, realized, said, or tried.  If you have kids struggling with school or any kind of separation anxiety, I hope these tips helps you too…

First of all, our job as parents isn’t to change our children’s emotions.  Our job isn’t to convince our kids to want to do something.  Our job isn’t to be pushy and demanding nor telling them they should feel a certain way.  “School is fun!”  “You should be happy to go!”  “You love to see your friends.”  “You always have so much fun once you get there.”  Not helpful.

Our job isn’t to make them feel shameful for how they feel or compare them to other kids “Look–all your friends are going in without crying.”  (You definitely don’t want to get that started!!) “Stop it. You are the only kid crying.”

We want to be a safe person who our kids can come to no matter how they feel.  I don’t like it when someone tries to change how I feel.  I just want to be listened to and understood.  Our kids need the same from us.  Our job is to empathize with them and teach them strategies for what to do when they do feel anxious.

1.  EMPATHIZE…

  • “I totally understand how you feel.”
  • “You don’t have to want to go.  You don’t have to like _______but you canchoose to make the best of it. “
  • “I know how you feel.  I used to feel upset or a little nervous about _______too.”
  • “It’s ok to be sad.”

2.  TEACH…

  • PRAYER:  “Let’s pray together.”  Remind them that God’s love and presence is always with them.   They are never alone.  He is always there to comfort them when they are sad or feel lonely.
  • SCRIPTURE:  Help them find comfort in God’s word.  Give them empowering Bible verses to memorize or write them down and put them in their backpack. The verse I used for separation anxiety was from Joshua 1:9–Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord, Your God, is with you wherever you go.
  • LOVE:  Remind your kids that just like God, you love them and are always in their heart wherever they go.  Let them know that they can always give you a “heart hug”.  And that you would be giving them “heart hugs” throughout the day too.  You could even put your picture or a picture of your family in an envelope for them to look at when they miss you.
  • CONFIDENCE:  Reassure your kids that they are safe, capable, smart, confident, and ready to go–wherever it is that they are going.

I can’t be pushy with my daughter even though I want her to go in the school without crying.  Pushing her–or any strong-willed kid–before she’s ready will only make things worse.  It’s certainly not easy, but I do have peace that this is her journey, and I’m just there to help her through it.

Lord, give our kids the confidence they need in You.  Bring peace to their anxious hearts and help us to be there to pray for them, bless them with Your word, love them, and encourage them.  

Here’s to building better families—

Christine

When It’s Hard to Let Them Go

How is it possible that my daughter started kindergarten today????  It’s not the first time we’ve been down this kindergarten road, but it wasn’t any easier.  I think I’m just struggling with how fast it all went.

She didn’t do preschool so this is the first time she is going to be away from me for this long…ever!

Choosing to keep her home with me for so long, I figured I had so much time and I would be ready, but then Zip…zing…bam!   One minute she was a little baby burrito with a sleep sack that I was rocking to sleep and the next minute, she’s a big girl with a backpack that I was walking to school.  I thought I would be ready, but I wasn’t.

My heart was pounding when my husband and I took her into her classroom.  I just wanted to stay and watch her and see what she was doing and learning and saying and experiencing.  With one last hug, I didn’t want to let her go…ever!

She was my little boopy, my little snuggle bug, my little shugs.

I didn’t want to walk out of the classroom.  I held back the tears until I was out in the hallway and then the flood came.  My husband and I hugged each other and we cried.   I felt so helpless.

Whether it’s to a day care provider, preschool, grade school, middle school, high school, college, work, off with friends, or on their first day of kindergarten… anytime our kids walk out the door…anytime we let them go, there is definitely a sense of powerlessness.

  • Will they make good choices?
  • Will they be safe?
  • Will they be bullied?
  • Will they stand up for themselves?
  • Will they be strong enough to stand up for someone else?
  • Will they be kind and loving?
  • Will they respect others?
  • Will they respect themselves?

The questions and worries can be overwhelming but we have to learn that no matter what phase of life our children are in, we can always trust them in the loving Hands of the One who created them.

As I walked home, leaving my little girl in that big school…all I could do was pray (and cry).

Prayer—a powerful act all of us parents can do for our kids all day…every day…and especially in moments of powerlessness.

Have you prayed for your child today? 

Let me share a prayer I pray every day over my kids…

Lord, bless them.  Keep them safe and healthy.  Watch over them and guide them.  Help them to make kind and loving choices for themselves and for others. And may they know that they have a very special purpose in this world and so does everyone else.  Remind them that they are Your love and light!

Here’s to building better families—
Christine

12 Ways to Teach Kids to Fail Well

Tired of being walked too many times in Little League, my son decided that he was going to swing the bat.

He learned very quickly that swinging…although it can result in getting a hit…can also result in getting an out.  And that…he didn’t like so much.

I watched him make a great hit only for it to get caught…out.  Then, the next time he was up to bat, he got another great hit only to get caught again…out.

I wish I could tell you that he took it well, but he didn’t.  Every time he got an out, he came out of the dugout, with his hat over his eyes, and sobbed in my arms.  “I wish I didn’t even swing the bat!” he grumbled.

Oh dear.

I am more of a “get over it kid” kind of mom, but this time, I just hugged him and let him cry and be upset.  In his world, I knew this was important and I just needed to be there for him…not lecture him like I wanted to.

Then, after the game (the slaughter) was over and it was time for his team to walk through the line of high fives with the other team, I watched as my son refused to give them high fives.  I was mortified as we have always taught him to be a good sport and no matter what–whether you win or lose–you always, always, always shake the other team’s hands and say “good game.”  And HE DIDN’T DO IT!

Well, let me tell you, I wanted to run out there and drag him over to the other team and make him shake their hands..no, hug them all and embarrass the crap out of him, but I didn’t.  Maybe I should have.

I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t angry at him, but I can’t.  I was angry. I was disappointed and I felt like I hadn’t done my job as a parent.  I felt like somehow I had failed.  But then I realized…yes, I have worked with him on losing…yes, I have worked with him on being a good sport…but I just simply needed to review.  More teaching…more training…more praying. That’s all.  It wasn’t failure on either of our parts.

At bedtime that night, we reviewed my son’s value beyond the hits, catches, pitches…beyond the strikes, balls, errors, and outs.  We reassured him that what mattered more than any of those things was what was in his heart.  God lives in his heart and makes him special and loves him no matter what…and so did we!  We also informed him that he would be writing an apology letter to the other team as well as to his own team for showing poor sportsmanship.  And we added “Failing Well” for our next family meeting’s agenda.

Teaching our kids to fail well is tough, but it’s also our job.  Training our kids to accept defeat, make mistakes, and move on should start early and never stop.  No matter how old they are, our kids are always needing introductory courses as well as refresher courses on everything–and I mean everything!  In fact, we just had to have a Hand-Washing Seminar review at our last family meeting.  🙂  So failure needs to be our focus once again.

Because in life, it’s not a matter of “will our kids fail” but “when will our kids fail.”  And we want them to grow in confidence in who they are and in who God created them to be so they will continue to not only step up to the plate, but also swing the bat.

Here are some practical ways to teach kids to fail well…

  1. playing board games or kick ball as a family so they have opportunities to win and lose.
  2. having them color outside the lines.
  3. building blocks together and knocking them over.
  4. celebrating when they at least try.
  5. encouraging them to try something new.
  6. Building something together and then making improvements on it.
  7. laughing together over silly mistakes.
  8. watching our own anger level when mistakes are made–remember to teach more and yell less.
  9. asking “What did you learn from this?”
  10. saying “Uh oh.  Let’s try again.”
  11. saying “I’m so proud of you for trying.”
  12. Asking “What can you do differently next time?”

Lord, you are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (Psalm 86:15).  Fill us with compassion and mercy when our kids make mistakes. Help us to be slow to anger and quick to teach and love.  And even when they may fail, remind us that Your love and faithfulness never does.

Here’s to building better families together-
Christine

When Your Child Asks: “What’s My Purpose in Life?”

Every day, I walk my son to the corner for school.  We chat about the weather and make observations about nature around us.  And I always tell him how much I love him and pray for him.  It’s the same prayer I pray every day and it’s the same prayer I pray for him at bedtime:

“May God bless you and keep you safe and healthy.  May He watch over you and guide you and help you to make kind and loving choices for yourself and for others.  And may you always know that you have a very special purpose in life and so does everyone else.”

Today, as I put my arm around him and prayed as we walked, he asked me a question…

“Mommy, what is my purpose in life?”

I’ve prayed that prayer for him every single day this school year and this is the first time he has asked me that question.  And it’s a good one…one for all of us to ask ourselves.

I said, “Well, God will reveal specifically how He wants to use you with the gifts He has purposely given you as you grow older, but while you’re waiting, you are called to love God, love yourself, and love others.  And in fact, that calling on your life will never change.  No matter how old you are or what you do with your life or what your circumstances are, you can always love God, love yourself, and love others.  Isn’t that awesome?”

I’m not sure if he truly understood how awesome that is, but his “Ok” told me that he at least understood a little bit.  After all, he’s only almost 9 and it took me almost 40 years of my life to truly understand that.

But today, at least a seed was planted.  And I just pray it grows as he grows.  And as life gets messy and confusing and uncertain at times, I pray that he will always know with certainty his very special purpose in this world…loving God, loving himself, and loving others…no matter what!  And that will bring him contentment and even joy in all things.

What a great lesson for all of us.

Lord, Your greatest commandment to us is to love You with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. (from Matthew 22:37-39) That is our greatest purpose in life.  We can all do this no matter how old we are, what life stage we are in, or what our crazy circumstances bring.  Help us to love You, love the person we see in the mirror, and love the people you have placed right in front of us.  And give us wisdom to teach our kids to do the same.  

Here’s to building better families together!
Christine

When Our Kids Complain

My oldest complains about everything.  Seriously, we could tell him that we’re going to a park or going out for ice cream and he would find something to complain about.  It’s really frustrating.

Of course, I want my son to be able to express his opinions about how he feels.  Of course, I want him to know that it’s OK to have thoughts and feelings that are different than everyone else.  Of course, I want him to know that it’s OK to not want to do something or go somewhere.

But complaining about everything was getting exhausting.

When kids are babies, they “complain” by crying or throwing a fit when they have a need or don’t get their way, and it’s our job to teach them to use their words instead of melting down.

We guide them by giving them their “lines.”

“Mommy, could I please have more juice?” 

Not that they will get more juice, but we are at least giving them the right words to say to be kind and respectful when they make their request.

When kids can use their words as they get older, then what?  Do we still give them their lines?

Absolutely, we do!  Not only do we give them the words, we give the tone at which to say those words too, right?

The tone we use means just as much, if not more, than the words we say.  

So when my son does complain about going to get ice cream (as crazy as it is), instead of getting angry and frustrated at him like I used to, I calmly and respectfully say:

  • “Can you try to say it again in a respectful way?”  This gives him an opportunity to think about how he is sharing his opinion if he didn’t share it respectfully with his words and tone the first time.   I will happily give him his lines if he can’t think of what to say or how to say it.
  • “I understand that getting ice cream may not be your favorite thing to do right now.”  This validates his feelings.
  • “And you don’t have to want to come.”  This respects his opinion and lets him know that I’m not out to change it.
  • “But you are a member of our family and we love you, so you will be joining us but you don’t have to eat ice cream or have fun if you don’t want to.”  (Can you believe that I actually have said these words???)  This again respects his opinion not to eat ice cream.  This also reinforces our unconditional love for him and our desire to spend time with him no matter what!

We may not always understand why our kids complain about things that don’t need to complain about or why they have the opinions that they have.  And we sure can’t make our kids want to do something.

In fact, it’s not our job to change our kids’ opinions at all. It’s our job to respect their opinions and to teach them how to share their opinions in a way that respects us.

And more importantly, it’s our job to show them that we love them unconditionally and want to be with them…even if they complain and don’t want to eat ice cream with us.

Lord, thank you for the gift of our words and our ability to express them in a way that honors You.  May we always model gracious words to our children.  May they be like a honeycomb–sweet to their souls.  May they bring health to their bodies (Proverbs 16:24).  Remind us that we say matters.  Guide us in teaching our kids about the power of their own words and expressing their own opinions without complaining but with respect and with love.  

**And by the way, when I’ve learned to respect my son’s opinion and not try to change it, my son has eaten ice cream with us every single time.  🙂

Here’s to building better families–
Christine

3 Reasons Our Kids Need Routine

Kids need routine.  I’m not talking about planning out every single minute of their day to the point where you rob your kids of all creativity, freedom, or spontaneity.  I’m talking about having a plan that kids can follow during certain times of the day in order to help them be more productive and help your life be less crazy.

During the school year, it is especially important for kids to have routines.  In our home, we have a morning routine, an after-school routine, and a bedtime routine.  We have checklists everywhere to make sure that they know exactly what to do.

Here’s why routine is so important…

  1. Routine creates security:  When we do the same things over and over in the same way, kids feel more secure.  That’s why little ones ask us to read the same books over and over and over and over and over.  I had Brown Bear, Brown Bear memorized because no matter how many times I read it, my kids wanted me to read it again and again.  There is security in familiarity.  Routines help the day become familiar.  And kids become more confident when they know what to expect and when they can predict what comes next.
  2. Routine encourages responsibility:  It is important for kids to know what is expected of them.  Whether it’s chores or homework or what they need to do at bedtime, establishing a routine allows them to take the responsibility for getting the job done.
  3. Routine fosters independence:  It is not our job to do everything for our kids–after all, we do want them to grow up to be self-sufficient, responsible adults.  But it is our job to teach them what to do, how to do it, and then let them go from there.  We want them to eventually be able to do everything without our guidance.  And routine helps.  With a solid routine in place, kids feel more empowered to manage their own time and their own responsibilities.

So, how do you create strong routines in your home?

  • First of all, identify “problem” areas or times of day where your family would benefit from a routine.
  • Write down everything that you would like for your kids to do.
  • Create a short, simple checklist (use pictures for younger kids) to help get their routine in order.
  • Read through the checklist with your kids to check for understanding.  You can also ask them if they have anything to add (this makes them feel important getting to share their thoughts and opinions).
  • In the beginning, have them practice going through the checklist with your guidance.  Remind them to look at their checklist.  “Have you done everything on your after-school checklist?”  Check their “work”.
  • Once they have learned the routine, you can give them some space.  You may need to remind or encourage them every once in a while.  And by the way, it’s OK to let your kids forget things from time to time–there will be natural consequences–especially when it comes to school work.  Or for frequent forgetfulness, you may need to introduce a small, fair consequence to boost that responsibility factor.

Hopefully, with practice, you will be able to watch your secure, responsible, independent children flowing through their routines and checking things off their checklists.  And eventually, you will find that your kids will know their routine so well, they won’t even need the checklists anymore.

And then, maybe…just maybe, you will have more time to just sit back, relax, and enjoy a brownie!  🙂 Ha.

Here’s to building better families-

Christine

Bedtime Sticker Chart–Plus, 4 Tips to Make Bedtime Easier

Sometimes I love bedtimes with my kids–books, snuggles, songs, prayers, hugs, kisses and lights out.  And sometimes I hate bedtimes with my kids.  Why is it that everything seems to hurt…at bedtime?  Why is it that suddenly everyone is dying of thirst…at bedtime?  And why is it that bowels seem to need to move…at bedtime?  AAAAAAHHHHH!  It’s enough to make you scream…JUST GO TO BED ALREADY!!!

I have three children and all three of them have had very different bedtime needs.  My husband and I have had to crack the secret code with each kid to figure out what would be the right combination to not only get each child to bed, but keep in child in bed!

Along with prayer, here are a few tips I’ve learned to help bedtimes be less crazy.  I hope these help you too…

  1.  Have a routine:  This helped each of our children get into a bedtime rhythm.  We try to keep bedtime close to the same time every night too and as early as possible–around 7:00pm or 7:30pm for little ones.  It always helped our kids to know what to expect which brought them security and a flow at bedtime.  After dinner, we clean up the house together, do baths, do some family special time like a quick game or a pillow fight or read a book while we have a little snack.  Then it’s go to the bathroom, brush teeth, and get tucked in bed.  In bed, we do the 4-Bedtime Questions–(if we don’t just do these quickly in the car or while they brush their teeth) which gives our kids a chance to talk about their day.  We rub their backs, sometimes sing a quick song or lullaby, say prayers and light out.  Do we do all of this every night? No.  Do we try? Yes.  And that’s all you can do too.  Try to keep bedtime as consistent as possible.
  2. Slow Down:  I’m right there with you.  At bedtime, you just want your kids to freaking go to bed, but I’ve also learned that they sense that which somehow triggers them to recharge and run around the house like goblins.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had somewhere to go after bedtime and those were always the nights where my kids get bit by the Extra Bug–can I have an extra song? an extra hug? an extra drink of water? an extra blanket? an extra stuffed animal? an extra backrub? When I rush, bedtimes don’t go as well.  Slowing down and connecting has really made a positive difference.  
  3. Find what works:  My oldest needed a sticker chart (download below) to help him learn to go to bed when it was time to go to bed.  He would fight bedtime with all his might until we got him a sticker chart.  Every night that bedtime went well, he got a sticker on his chart and got a special tickle time with daddy.  My daughter had trouble staying in bed all night long.  Sticker charts didn’t interest her, but she loved to be tickled.  So every night that she stayed in her bed all night, she got 200 tickles the next day.  Every child is different.  Find what will work for yours.
  4. Build a positive relationship even before bedtime begins:  Prayer, routine, bedtime questions, sticker charts and even 200 tickles can help with bedtime, but making sure that our kids have our time and love throughout the day can be helpful at bedtime too.  Whether you see it as a time bank or a love tank, kids need to feel full with our love and affection.  If they feel empty at bedtime and we’re trying to rush them through the process, they may act out simply to get our attention–even if it’s negative.  However, if we are intentional about filling our kids up throughout the day with giving hugs or encouraging notes or playing catch or helping them with homework or playing a game or reading a book, they will not feel so depleted when it’s time to close their eyes at night.  In fact, we want them to feel as full of our love as possible at the end of each day.  Investing time into our children will always be worth it!

Even though there may still be many “Whack-a-Mole” nights,  it is my prayer that you will be able to work as a team with your child to crack the bedtime code and discover the right combination for unlocking a beautiful, peaceful, and memorable bedtime for your family!

DOWNLOAD A STICKER CHART BELOW

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Boy

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Boy

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Girl

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Girl

 

 

The Get-Along Jar: An Idea to Stop Sibling Rivalry

The yelling…the screaming…the fighting…OH SO ANNOYING!  Sibling rivalry drives me crazy sometimes.  I’ll be honest…sometimes, I just let them argue it out. I just simply don’t have the time, energy, or the patience to step in every time and in fact, I’ve learned that it’s healthy to let my kids work it out on their own–unless it gets too out of hand, of course.

I’ve learned that it’s not always necessary for me to step in.  Taking time to teach my kids that they have a voice and they can stand up for themselves is an important skill for life.  Learning to handle an argument will certainly come in handy for their future.  I have given them three simple steps in a little rhyme to help them remember what to do…

  • Say it kindly.
  • Walk away.
  • Go get help. (Clap, clap, clap)

I want to empower my kids to try to solve their own problems with their siblings with kind and respectful words first.  “Please don’t hit me.  I don’t deserve it.”

Then, they walk away and get some space.

Then, if the offender keeps offending, they come get me for help.

Sometimes it works beautifully. Sometimes it doesn’t.  They are still learning and I just keep on teaching because I know they will benefit in the long run.

Recently, I found a new idea from www.kidsspot.com.au in an article called Put a Stop to Sibling Bickering: Make a Get-Along Jar.  It was my hope that I could use The Get-Along Jar in my own home as well as help another mom with some sibling rivalry going on in her home too.

I tried it.  And?

It was awful.  Ultimate fail!!  It only created more arguing.  So what started as an argument between siblings ended up being an argument between me and my oldest.  Not the point at all, but only he could turn an idea about getting along into an argument.  Oh the irony!

So why am I sharing this idea with you?  I’m sure you’re thinking…”Why do you want me to try it then?”

Because it just might work for you.  All kids are different.  And my oldest just so happens to thrive off of conflict so The Get-Along Jar gave him yet another opportunity to argue, but with my youngest kids, they actually did enjoy it.  They did choose to change their focus to try to work as a team instead of arguing which is the whole point of The Get-Along Jar to begin with.  Every child is different. Every family is different.  Your kids just might get it and if it can help you have less sibling rivalry going on in your home then my failed experiment will be all worth it.  🙂

Purpose

  • To distract kids in the middle of an argument or silly bickering.
  • To provide an opportunity to do something together that requires teamwork.
  • To remind each other that they love each other and that life is too short to spend time arguing when they can spend more time having fun and doing kind things together.

Materials

  • Jar or cup
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Strips of paper with get-along ideas (printable below)
  • Scissors
  • Markers to decorate
  • Glue

Get-Along Ideas (Download below)

  • Say three nice things about the other person.
  • Turn on some music and dance together.
  • Read a storybook together–taking turns reading a page.
  • Set the table together.
  • Make up a ‘getting along song’ and perform it for the family.
  • Make the other person’s bed.
  • Write a poem for the other person.
  • Clean the other person’s room.
  • Get each other a glass of water and sit outside to drink it.
  • Draw something positive about your sibling.
  • Sweep the floor together.
  • Make each other a ‘sorry’ card.
  • Play Simon Says for six minutes.
  • Draw a picture of each other.
  • Give each other a big hug.
  • Clean the bathroom sinks together.
  • Pick up the other person’s toys.
  • Do 10 sit ups, 10 jumping and five push-ups.
  • Tell each other a story.
  • Draw a picture together.
  • Tickle each other.
  • Do a kind deed together for someone else.
  • Ask your sibling 3 questions about themselves.
  • Make each other laugh with silly faces.
  • Play The Quiet Game.

How to use

  • Introduce your kids to The Get-Along Jar. Let them know that they are family and that they are called to love each other and work as a team and The Get-Along Jar is going to help remind them of that. Ask them to brainstorm ideas of some things they can do together to have fun instead of fighting or you can just use the ideas below.
  • Have them help decorate the sticks as well as label and decorate the jar.
  • When fighting or arguing begins, walk over to the kids with The Get-Along Jar and assign one child to pick out a stick. If you know your kids will argue over this, you pick out the stick for them.
  • Have the child read or you read what is on the stick and they must do that instead.
  • Encourage your kids to do things in The Get-Along Jar anytime they want too. They can use The Get-Along Jar for ideas of things they can do show their family teamwork or to just have some fun together. They don’t have to be in an argument to use The Get-Along Jar. It’s for “all things teamwork.”
  • What a great way to refocus the kids on what is important—being kind and loving and working as a team!

Good luck.  I hope The Get-Along Jar works for you.

Here’s to building better families together!

DOWNLOAD THE GET-ALONG JAR DIRECTIONS

DOWNLOAD THE GET-ALONG JAR IDEAS