“Look at this rifle I built!”
“That’s not a rifle. Rifles are longer. That looks like a pistol.”
“Well I made it a rifle.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“Get off the trampoline! It’s my turn!”
“You’ve had like fifty turns already. I’m staying on!”
“I’m telling Mom…”
And so on, until either the boys are hurting each other and yelling, or I am yelling at them!
Before Jonathan was born, a friend from church came over to look at our homeschooling, etc., since I was worried about adding a new baby to the mix and ever get anything done. She is a mother to four children who are all grown now (and they’ve all become such wonderful adults!), so I really value her input. One thing that she said was the character development needs to come first. It is more important that the boys learn to honor the Lord than get all their math work done.
Focusing on character is not always easy, especially since it means that Mom must demonstrate godly character! But our homes are so much more peaceful when we do things God’s way!
One tool that helped my friend’s family was the “Kindness Koala” – a little stuffed koala. She told her kids that they would take turns doing kind things for each other and leave the koala behind. For example, if one child made a sibling’s bed, they would leave the koala on the bed. Then, when the owner of the bed found the koala there, it was their turn to do something kind for someone else and leave the koala behind for them.
One day, the boys were bickering, and I decided that it was time to try the “Kindness Car” – our manly version of the koala. First, I sat them down and told them that we needed to end the destructive words and behavior in our home. The Bible says that it is not enough to simply “stop being rude” or “ignore the other person.”
Romans 12:17-21 says, “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
The cycle of fighting won’t stop until someone starts actively choosing to be kind and put others first. Scripture makes it clear that when we are kind to those who are mistreating us, it brings shame to those who are doing the mistreating. Kindness can change the whole tone of a home.
I was very pleased with how the kindness car worked! The boys thought of things like taking each other’s plates out to the kitchen and letting each other go first with a toy, and they were genuinely having a good time. The kindness car would definitely lose effectiveness if used every day, but I thought that it was a great way to jump start kind actions as a replacement for rudeness and competition.
Have the “summer squabbles” set in at your house yet? How do you handle it?