I have found a new challenge: How to teach my children to love each other. You see, long ago I learned that love is more than just a feeling. Feelings are subjective, and you can never experience the feelings of another. But actions are visible, tangible, and can be experienced by many. So, how do I teach my children that to really love each other means to treat each other with kindness, care, and respect?
Here's what I've come up with so far:
1. Use Your Words - You can cry and shout and hurl sound or fists at one another, or you can learn to calmly use your words to express what you think, how you feel, and what you need from your brother or sister.
2. Say You're Sorry - An honest apology makes a big difference when feelings are hurt.
3. Ask How To Make It Better - An honest apology is made even better when the injured party can let the other know what could rectify the situation and mend fences. I'm teaching the kids to ask "How can I make it up to you?"
4. Best Friends - Right now, the best friends my children have are each other. I try to remind them often and ask them how best friends treat each other.
5. If It's Not Fun For Everyone, It's Not Fun - One child left out with their feelings hurt is one child too many. So, if one person is getting the cold shoulder, or being left out, it's not fun and can't continue.
6. Be Assertive - I try to teach them to discuss issues with each other before coming to me. An, "I don't like that, please stop." can go a long way and go over much better than an "I'm telling Mom!" Mostly I want my kids to know how to set the boundaries of what they will and will not accept, and know how to stand up for themselves. At the same time, I also want them to know when to call in reinforcements. So, if you can't talk it out, then come and ask for help.
7. No Yelling - It's no good using your words if no one can understand you. The same holds true for whining. It never lasts too long in this house.
8. Gentle Touch - Hands are for kindness, and arms are for hugging. We use gentle touch with each other, because we care about each other. Hitting does not show that we love each other.
Generally, my kids really enjoy each other's company, and discipline, while necessary, isn't a huge issue in our house. But I'm always looking for ways to cultivate the relationships they have. Because I want them to last a lifetime, and see them through when I'm no longer here to do so.