This week, as I read the tool card and Jane Nelson's post on Put Kids In The Same Boat, I had an EPIPHANY! This is one tool I was not only forgetting, but I don't think I had even thought of it once since our second child was born.
Put kids in the same boat means to treat them equally when you respond to an incident that involves both of them. It says to give both or all kids involved the same choices for dealing with the problem and then you have to have faith in them and leave them to deal with it according to the choice they made.
In our house we have a mild mannered five year old girl and a very active one year old boy. The boy is known for slapping, pinching, biting and scratching, all in very affectionate ways of course! He often gets excited or upset or something and manages to inflict pain on anyone nearby. We generally respond by asking the baby to be gentle and show us how he can be gentle and asking his sister if she is ok. Lately this has actually started to work since we started teaching him how to be gentle at times when he wasn't already in action. We never really thought about how these interactions were affecting our daughter. After reading Jane's blog I realized that we are totally making our daughter out to be the victim. That is not something we wanted or intended to do.
The next time the opportunity arose we responded by telling them both that if they couldn't play nicely together in the living room, then we would have to find places in our house for them to play separately. I could see the shock on my daughters face, and she instantly blamed him for hurting her - playing the victim as we taught her :( I told her that it makes me very sad to see either of them get hurt and that I was going to take him to his room to play alone and then she could go to her room to play alone until they were ready to play together nicely. After a few minutes in their respective rooms she came out and said she wanted to to play with him nicely. Whew, it seemed to work. I am not sure that the baby got much out of it, but at least he wasn't made to be the bully!
I can see this being a very effective tool, and I plan to keep it in my tool box from now on!
Next week we will work on: Allowances! Perfect timing for us as we have been working on learning about money around here lately!!!